Adopting From Foster Care: Why Does It Take So Long?

adopting from foster care

Adopting from foster care may take longer than you’d like, but it’s worth every moment in the end.

Of all the questions foster care organizations like ours are asked on a regular basis, the one that comes up the most is why adopting from foster care takes so long.

It’s easy to understand their frustration, especially if the foster parents feel that the bio parents are unwilling or unable to regain custody of their children. But it’s important to note that the process is shorter than it was in the past, and that the wait exists for everyone’s protection.


ASFA and Concurrent Planning

ASFA (The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997) was put into practice so that children would spend less time in foster care. A key aspect of ASFA is concurrent planning for foster children’s futures.

Concurrent planning means that, when a child enters foster care, child welfare agencies plan for one of two outcomes. The first is reunification with the birth parents; the second is termination of parental rights and adoption.

These plans are put into place and moved forward at the same time. In other words, while the child’s birth parent attends parenting classes or rehab, the agency also plans for termination of parental rights in the event that the birth parents do not successfully complete what is required to regain custody of their children. If the birth parents do not succeed in getting their children back, the case switches to adoption and, in many cases, a family that is already selected (usually the children’s foster parents) is given the opportunity to adopt.

Before ASFA, child welfare divisions did things differently.  They planned solely for children to be returned home and never looked into other options until the children’s biological parents were unable to regain custody. Once termination of parental rights happened, then the search for adoptive parents would begin. This resulted in children lingering even longer in foster care.

This process of adopting from foster care is not always explained clearly, if at all, to prospective families, so many foster parents mistakenly believe that the countdown to adoption begins the day a child is placed in their home. Even though concurrent planning keeps children’s cases moving forward, the countdown to adoption does not begin until the biological parents’ rights are terminated. But many foster parents say that, even after parental rights have been terminated, it takes far too long for them to finalize their adoptions.

Why Do Bio Parents Get So Many Chances To Get Their Kids Back?

Many foster parents feel that biological parents get too many chances before termination of parental rights. It’s important for foster parents to remember that, since foster care is meant to keep children safe until they can return home, reunification is always the first goal. Unfortunately, families adopting from foster care often believe that the courts are making decisions based on the best interests of the biological parents, rather than the best interests of the children.

While, on the surface, this may be how it seems, there are sometimes good reasons why judges don’t grant termination of parental rights sooner. Sometimes the biological parents are cooperating and making positive changes in their lives that may not be enough to regain custody at the time but signal a chance that they may be able to in the future. Other times the child welfare division has not lived up to its responsibilities to the biological parents, by failing to provide proper counseling, filing paperwork with errors, or not at all, or any number of infractions. When this happens, due to workers’ caseloads being too heavy or for other reasons, the judge cannot rule in the division’s favor.

This lengthy process is ultimately a safeguard for all families. It protects the rights of the children to be returned to their parents if it is safe for them do so. It protects biological parents from losing their children permanently on an error or a technicality. Finally, it protects adoptive parents and their children from having their adoption overturned on appeal.

Overturned adoptions are one of the worst things that can happen to a family. The loss and grief caused by overturned adoptions scars already hurt children even deeper and destroys the dreams of loving adoptive moms and dads. This is the main reason why parents adopting from foster care must struggle to be patient with the process: so that, on adoption day, when they tell their foster children that they have found their forever family, they can say it with certainty.

Author: fafsblog

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80 thoughts on “Adopting From Foster Care: Why Does It Take So Long?

  1. Is it true that a child in foster care that is being adopted through an open adoption can not see child for three months due to transitioning

  2. Shauna, If you meant contact with the birth parents, in NJ a child in foster care with a goal of adoption generally continues to have contact with the birth parents until parental rights are terminated; once that happens, contact stops. If the foster parents are adopting the child the adoption will be finalized once paperwork is completed and the official agency consent to adopt is obtained.

    If the child is placed in another home, the child must be there for six months before the adoption can be finalized. In most cases, unless it is agreed upon by the adoptive parents, there will not be any contact with the birth parents. In either case, sibling contact should continue if possible.

    As far as open adoption, in NJ an adoption through foster care is only open to the extent that the adoptive parents are willing to allow.

    1. I’m wondering if you might know what the rights are of the grandparents? Our granddaughter was removed from my daughter and her boyfriends care in October. We are in MN and we’re unaware of this until recently. Our granddaughter is with her aunt. If our daughter and the child’s father lose custody, do we have a right, especially since we are in another state?

      Thank you!

      1. How long does the courts give a Mom with a 20 year history of drug abuse and already having lost four other children due to this addiction, to get her life together before they will terminate her rights? She has been in court ordered rehab six times, once for as long as a year, and returned to drugs. As soon as she got out of rehab, she spent all the money on the welfare card for drugs. This baby is 17 months old, how long will they allow her a chance before they finally terminate her rights again in Louisiana?

      2. Absolutely… as a grandmother you have preference of your granddaughter. You need to contact dyfus and be very persistent… let them know your interest and again be very persistent… the law is on your side. If you don’t get heard by caseworker go to her supervisor or the supervisor’s supervisor let them know you will not leave until your rights are met. Good luck .. current foster mother

        1. I know you want the best for the child but take a look at the family that wants to adopt that child. Can they provide a loving and provide a fruit full life that will be better then you can?
          I’m asking how is the child be better off with you or the family that has been with and the only family he knows.

  3. Is it a provision of federal law or a department’s internal policy that sets the timeline for how long an adoption takes to be finalized after the parental rights have been terminated?

    1. Federal legislation enacted in 1997 places limitations on the reasonable efforts to reunite families and make permanency decisions within a limited timeframe. The law, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), requires that agencies file a termination of parental rights, in the majority of circumstances, if a child had been in placement for 15 out of the most recent 22 months. As a result of ASFA, the court must hold a first permanency hearing within 30 days after a judicial determination that reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent are not required; or within 12 months of the date the child is placed. For children that remain in placement more than 12 months, the court holds a permanency hearing at least once every 12 months thereafter. The purpose of the permanency hearing is to determine the child’s permanency plan. If the goal is adoption, the child’s case will be transferred immediately to an Adoption Worker to begin adoption planning.

      As per DCP&P policy, once the Superior Court rules Termination of Parental Rights the adoption process begins and should take forty- five days for finalization. Termination of Parental Rights and adoption time-frame is set by the Superior Court at the last permanency hearing for the child. The adoption time-frame can be amended as parents have the right to appeal the Court’s decision. Other factors such as, the child must reside in the adopting parents home for at least six months prior to an adoption being finalized, can also alter the adoption process timeline. There is currently no law providing guidelines for the adoption process; however there are basic Court and DCP&P policies that are followed throughout the adoption process.

  4. I have a situation, My partner and I have been fostering a child for 11 months and from the start CPS stated that there were no family involved. Well when we went to intervene, out came a half sister from another state (Oklahoma) that became interested in being part of his life. Now after 11 months they are taking him away from us and sending him to Oklahoma. I truly believe our lawyer just gave up because she did mention we are fighting a loosing battle against CPS and their supervisor that want him to go to Oklahoma. We are now losing him this Friday to a family that barley knows him. The mother of the child does not get along with her half sister and the sister has only met him once when he was 4 months old. So she did know about him , I want to know where she was when we were changing the diapers and taking care of the bellyaches and everything else. I just wanted to know if there is anything in the state of Texas we can do.

    Thank you

    1. Dear Mr. Dominguez,

      Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). FAFS Family Advocates specialize in the policies and procedures of New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Unfortunately, we are not knowledgeable of the policies and procedures of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. My suggestion to you is to express your concerns to your caseworker and to go up the chain of command within the office if you feel that your concerns are not being addressed. If you feel that your case was not treated fairly you may reach out to the Office of Consumer Affairs in the state of Texas at 1.800.720.7777 or Their website states that they answer questions regarding open cases and address complaints. I was also able to search online and find the Texas Foster Family Association. They may be knowledgeable about the policy and procedures of DFPS and may be able to assist you. You can get their contact information on their website I understand that it is very difficult dealing with the loss associated with a child in foster care leaving your home. I hope that the information I provided can help you and good luck.

      Best Regards,

  5. I am a licensed Foster Parent in Michigan. I have been presented with a birthparent story through my brother. The birthmom is currently involved with the foster care system in New Jersey. Her child is placed with relatives who will not be adopting. The question is: Birthmom would like to pursue an open adoption with us. Can we be considered for adopting her child?

    1. my nephew has for over 5 years trying to adopt their child since 30 days after birth the father was murdered the mother is an active hardcore drug addict and prostitute one relative has 1 of seven brothers and sisters and want this child for all the wrong reasons both parents are responsible and one is we need help or ideas we love this child any ideas that are legal we are honest

  6. I am a New Jersey foster/adopt mom looking to adopt a 0-5 year old girl or sibling group I have been licensed for some time now and have not received any calls not even 1 can anyone help me ?

    1. Hi Yasmina,

      Thank you for opening up your heart and home for our children in foster care! Each case is different and there are no set times for how long it will take for a placement to happen. The key is to be ready and prepared for that call; it can come at anytime and any day. This is one of the reasons we send out the FAFS “When The Phone Rings” FAQ to all of the newly licensed parents. This FAQ can also be viewed online here.

      As far as how it happens and what are the steps? The Local DCP&P Office Facilitator will call the resource parent and provide them with information regarding the child and see if they are interested in accepting the placement. Although it doesn’t always happen, the resource parent should be given full disclosure about the child in need of placement. Following the resource parent agreeing to accept the placement of the child, he/she will be placed in the home shortly thereafter. I say, “shortly”, but it will depend on how long the child’s pre-placement physical takes, obtaining the Foster Parent ID Card, Medicaid Card and sometimes other issues that may arise prior to the placement. But typically it is within a couple of hours of confirming the placement.

      Again, there is no set time of when the resource parent can expect a placement because the workers aren’t always aware that a child is going to be removed from the home and in need of foster care. There are a couple of things that the worker and supervisor does to try and prevent the removal such as, putting a Safety Protection Plan in place and/or placing them with a relative.

      It’s wonderful that you are willing to care for sibling because DCP&P often have a need for placement of sibling groups! Here are a few things you may want to consider. The largest age range of children in out of home placement is 6-12 years. A resource parents limitation on the type of child they are willing to accept such as a certain age, race, religion, ability may increase the wait time. However, the resource parent has the right to say, “No” to a placement if they don’t think it would be a good fit/match.

      I would recommend the “Welcome to Your New Home” training offered by FAFS. This will assist you even more with helping a child feel welcomed when they are placed in your home. Also, feel free to visit for children whose parent’s rights have been terminated and they are currently available for adoption.

      Hope this helps.

  7. As a out of state grandparent, do my husband and I have a right to our granddaughter who is currently in foster care wi t here her aunt?

    Thank you!

    1. Being in another state when an incident such as this occurs can be stressful; however there are ways that you can ensure that you are involved and possibly become a potential kinship provider for your granddaughter. You would first need to contact the office and caseworker handling your granddaughters case to inform them that you are willing to care for your granddaughter. You do have the right to vocalize your willingness to care for her and also continue to have a connection with her. If you would like further assistance you can contact the FAFS Family Advocates at 1.800.222.0047.

  8. My daughters rights got terminated and cps has refused me to take my grand kids. They took my grandson a year in a half ago and my granddaughter a year ago when she was born.They are in severance for adoption and the foster mother is trying to adopt them. We are still fighting to get them back. My question is if we lose and the foster mother adopts them can we still fight for our rights.

    1. Hi Julie,

      When a resource family or any other family adopts a child, they obtain full legal custody of the child. When this occurs the biological family will no longer have any legal rights to the child.

      It will be up to the adopting family to allow contact from the biological family until the child becomes 18 years old. At that point, the child is a legal adult and can determine whether or not to have contact.

      I hope this helps ya. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  9. Just a quick question and know that very state is different and so is every case , but how long can it take for biological parents to lose their parental rights once the child enters the foster care system.
    I am from UT, if that helps.

  10. I’m in California and had baby girl placed with us when she was 2 months old (she is now 14 months) and her brother whith us 9 months ago he is now (27 months)…Anyhow we were told we were going to be able to adopt them because mom (she is 19) is on drugs and made no efforts and the boy’s dad is incarcerated for 45 years…now this out of state grandmother (only grandmother to the boy) turns out she did everything and the court is sending the children to Colorado (she has not met the children)…I just found out that now mother is incarcerated for domestic violence but she doesn’t want the children to go to Colorado can she relinquish legal guardianship to us? She is due to lose parental rights in October…can she choose us as the adaptive parents?

    1. Hi Yessi,

      The biological mother can relinquish her rights to a specific person or family. The mother would need to advise all caseworkers and supervisors that she does not want the children placed with the grandmother and that she plans to relinquish her rights to this family immediately. She can choose this family as the family she wishes to adopt the children. All CPS agencies throughout the country should move only towards what is in the best interest of the children. Being that the children have been with this family, they have developed a strong bond with the child and it may not be in the child’s best interest to be removed at this point. With the biological mother on their side, there is a good chance that they will be able to have the children remain with them. However they must act fast.

  11. Hello I am a licensed kinship foster parent and I live in Las Vegas, our baby is now 4 months old and has been with us since birth, no contact from the mother and known father so our case worker will be requesting a TPR at the 6 month review. My question is that his maternal aunt is in California along with his birth mother, and she became a guardian to 2 of his siblings and has recently hired and attorney, is there a possibility that she can request that our baby be moved to California? She too wants our baby for all the wrong reasons and we are afraid for his safety should he be moved. We can’t imagine our lives without him so I just want to know the probability of him being moved. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Maria,

      The biological family can request to care for the child. California CPS would have to assess their home and speak with Nevada CPS prior to this occurring. A judge will also have to agree to the placement for it to occur. There is a potential that the child can be placed with their siblings and family in order to keep the child’s biological ties. All CPS agencies throughout the country should move only towards what is in the best interest of the child. Being that the child has been with your family since birth, you and the child have likely developed a strong bond and it may not be in the child’s best interest to be removed at this point. This would have to be a discussion between you and the caseworkers involved However, the child can potentially be removed because all CPS agencies across the country look to keep siblings together. I’m sorry we cannot give you a concrete answer on probability because of the myriad of issues involved in something like this.

  12. We have been “fostering to adopt” a 9 month old baby boy . His case was changed to adoption , parents terminated rights , and we were told we would probably be able to adopt him . The birth mom chose another family who is with a private adoption agency and CPS is allowing that family to adopt him . Is there anything we can do ? There is a very special bond between our family and this child and we are devastated !!

  13. We are a foster and pre-adoptive family in CA. We have had the child since birth. Grandparent came into the picture when she was 6 month. Initially the county did not approve their placement, and was recommending us for adoption. But county changed position unexpectedly due to current threat of lawsuit and doing everything to accommodate the grandparent. We are still in the placement hearing for child that is over 15 months now. Are there any limitation after how long a child can not be removed from home that she has known all her life. The child attorney his in favor of placement with us.

    1. There is no limitation in law that states a child cannot be removed after a certain amount of time. However, since the child’s attorney feels they are the best permanency plan for the child, you should request a meeting with all parties. A meetings with all caseworkers and supervisors along with the child’s attorney may assist the situation by advocating that the child has bonded with the family and has thrived in their home. You would have to move quickly to set this up prior to the permanency hearing. If you request such a meeting and it is denied, you can continue to request through CA chain of command.

  14. Hi! I’ve had my foster daughter since she was 2 weeks old. Bio mom has visitation but has not seen her once since I’ve had her. The baby is now 4 months old. Mom also didn’t show up to her court date and has missed a couple of meetings with social workers and other personnel. What are the chances the baby will get to be up for adoption. The baby has already formed an attachment to me. Doesn’t know mom or any of her family. Social worker has mentioned permanency placement and fast track. Any advice? Will she get more chances to keep her. She doesn’t follow through with what she says.

    1. Hi Penelope,

      Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). Following a removal, the DCP&P caseworker will have a primary and secondary permanency goal for a child (concurrent planning). In most cases for a child this young, the first goal would be reunification with a biological or legal parent. While still providing services to the parents, steps will also be taken to meet the secondary or “back-up” goal. This would be making sure that the child is placed in a home where the family would be willing to adopt, reaching out to other biological family members that are willing, able and appropriate to adopt and informing the parents that non-compliance with the case service plan affects their goal of reunification. By the 10th month following the removal, DCP&P will determine if termination of parental rights should be recommended to the court at the Permanency Hearing (12th month in care). If it is decided that the goal of the child should be adoption rather than reunification, the process will begin to change that permanency goal for the child and file the necessary paperwork for termination of parental rights. During this time, the mother can become complaint with participating in and benefiting from services and the goal can again be changed back to reunification by the courts.

      Keeping in regular contact with the DCP&P caseworker and continuing to provide quality care to the child in your home is what is within your power at this time. Please feel free to reach out to FAFS for any additional support, questions or concerns that you may have! We can be reached at 1-800-222-0047, Monday-Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm.

  15. I live in PA. I have two small foster children. The little boy is 2 1/2 and has lived with me since he is 3 days old. His sister is currently 5 and moved in with me when she was 3 1/2 (about 2 months after her brother). They are their mother’s youngest children, she has 7 older children, only one of whom we have contact with as she currently resides with their maternal grandmother. The court cut off visitation in June of 2015. They have scheduled and rescheduled the TPR hearing 4 times. We now have a permanency hearing next Tuesday (11/22) and I was told their mom’s attorney is pushing to reinstate visits. In an above comment, it was mentioned that if a child has been in care for 15 of the last 22 months, there is a legal obligation for the county to move towards termination. Well, we have blown past that marker for both the kids since they have both lived with me for more than 2 years. How is this legal and how long can this drag on and on? I know every case is different and I was told this case is harder because the mother has a private attorney, but I feel like no one takes a look at what is best for the children. They are stable and thriving. I know their mother is healthy now, in a way she hadn’t been before and I know this isn’t an easy thing, but how long can the children be forced to live in limbo? I know, as a foster parent, my hands are tied, but is there anything anyone can do?

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) regarding you concerns. We would first like to thank you for everything you have done for these children in providing for them. FAFS provides support and advocacy to foster, adoptive and kinship families in New Jersey. You are correct that by Federal Law (The Adoption & Safe Families Act) the caseworker is legally obligated to initiate court proceedings towards terminating the parental rights to the children. While this is what is required by law to file a petition, the court (judge) can decide to deny the petition and continue to offer services to the parents if they see progress being made. There may be other factors that play into the TPR Hearing to be delayed. As we service families in New Jersey (or those caring for children who are in foster care through the state of New Jersey), the best thing to do in this scenario is to keep in frequent contact with your caseworker regarding the status of the case. Make sure you ask what the current permanency goal is for the children in your care (reunification, adoption, guardianship, etc.). It may also help to put into writing your thoughts on what is best for the children given the history and current circumstances. This letter can be given to the children’s caseworker as well as the children’s Law Guardian and the court. A termination of parental rights can be a long, difficult and complicated process, especially with so many children involved. I hope this information has helped answer some of your questions. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us at FAFS!

  16. Hi. I am a foster parent and my home is the child’s pre-adoptive home. I am from NY. I have been fostering for 8 years and our baby has been with us since birth. We are currently fighting to get mothers rights terminated. She has been inconsistant with supervised visitations and does not attend medical appointment and does not participate in her educational planning. We have been battling with the back and fourth for 8 years. What are the chances that the judge would not terminate her right?

    1. Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). We provide advocacy and support to foster and adoptive parents in New Jersey and cannot advise on specifics to the state of New York. What would be recommended is that you document what you have just shared, that the biological mother does not attend medical appointments, is not participating in educational planning and is inconsistent with supervised visitations. If you are still working with foster care services in New York, provide this documentation to the child’s caseworker so that it can be shown during court hearings the issues that continue to be at hand. If you have legal guardianship of the child, then providing this same documentation to the court is beneficial to modify the mother’s involvement. When documenting, be sure to be as specific as possible including the date, time and location of appointment/visitation and how and when the mother was given notice. For example, a school conference is scheduled and you informed the mother one week prior by phone.

      As far on whether or not the judge would terminate her rights is dependent on a lot of things, such as age of the child, relationship with the child, current services being offered/completed by the mother and the child’s best interest. Each state varies with the process of termination of parental rights and judges will make a decision following the federal and state laws based on the reports and testimony presented to them throughout the case and during a termination hearing. I hope this has helped to clarify some things for you. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us at FAFS!

  17. Question: I’m a grandparent of 5 grandchildren, my daughter’s parental rights have been terminated. It’s in the appeal process in the State of Michigan. I have put in application for adoption of my oldest grandson, who is in a different foster care home than his 4 younger siblings. The foster parents of the 4 want to adopt all 5, but the agency has to reach out to family first. The case worker is denying me to adopt, although my grandson lived with me first 5 years of his life, then I cared for him for 2 years before being returned to mom, total of 7 years out of 12. Case worker is saying I have too much debt. I work for a Circuit Court Judge and earn pretty good money, but I do carry some debt. Everything gets paid on time and in more than required. I believe this caseworker is just jumping through hoops as required with all intention of denying any family member because the current foster parents have from the beginning said they wanted to adopt all 5. Was told by the foster parents who have allowed me to see them 3 times over the past 21 months that when they adopt I will be out of the picture, no longer their grandma and when they turn 18, they won’t even know me. How much truth is there in that statement? What recourse do I have as a grandparent to be able to see my grandchildren? Also, if a grandparent adopts I was told by the caseworker that the birth parents could never see their children if adopted by the grandparent, and if they did, CPS would have to be called. Is that true?

    1. Hi Kathryn,

      Foster and Adoptive Family Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit in New Jersey, however, one of our Family Advocates has experience in Michigan and may be able to answer your questions. She will be back in the office on Friday, 12/23 and will reach out to you via email then. If you would prefer she call you instead, please email with your phone number. Thank you.

  18. My rights were terminated 4 weeks because i am accused of violating a suspend judgement which was for a year but was violated in 4 months i have 6 additional children and foster care refuses for the family to see him he is disable he cant walk or talk so how is this best interest of a child in this situation. I reside in new york

    1. Hi Kwanza,

      Cases in NY are handled by the ACS. If your rights were terminated in NY, you would need to contact the ACS for more information. However, if biological rights are terminated, then it’s up to the adoptive family to decide whether or not they want to allow contact. If there is anything we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to call us at 609.520.1500.

  19. Hello I want to know how long it actually takes for a TPR to take place, I live in Las Vegas? We have had my baby cousin since birth and he is now 10 months old, bio mom has not made any efforts and has not attended any courts. She is still actively using meth and has abandoned all of her kids. My foster baby/cousin is the only one that has been taken away from CPS and the other children she gave guardianship to one of her sisters. My case worker says they have moved permanency but she never notifies me about court dates so I’m wondering about how long it will take to get TPR and about how long an adoption will last until it’s it’s finalized? We are all this baby knows and I’m just so worried that the courts will make an exception. I know she is not a fit parent which is why I’m so concerned. Thanks in advance!

    1. Termination of parental rights and adoption can be a very lengthy process and is different for each family, whether they are a relative or not. There are many things that can delay this process such as court delays, new information on the family, ect.

      Child Protection Services must prove to the courts that this is the only option for the child to have a safe and permanent home in order to move forward with this permanency plan. It is taken very seriously and due to this the process can be delayed. As per federal law, children must have a permanency plan if they have been in care 15 out of the past 22 months. Usually around the 10th month of placement a permanency hearing occurs. If the caseworker is unable to share court dates with you, you should always be able to reach out to their supervisor and follow the chain of command within Child Protective Services in Nevada in order to obtain the information you are seeking.

      This can be very frustrating for any family and all TPR cases and adoptions are very different and come with different challenges. Unfortunately, we cannot answer specifically why the process is taking a lengthy amount of time; however again following your states chain of command may assist you.

  20. In California. What is the law when a new born has been 2 1/2 years with the Foster parents and the baby is completed bonded to the foster parents to the point to see them as papa and mama? And the baby just see her real parents as some body she knows because she see them ones in a while. Mom was doing bad at the beginning, the like in the last 6 months she stared to do better. Reunification rights were terminated like 4 months ago. aunt in mother side is interested to adopt the baby, but for 2 years she was not able to qualify. Everything took that long because dad appeared like year ago. saying that he did not know about the baby. Later it court found out he knew it, and also reject the baby. Now grandparents want her too. but it seems that one of them has some bad past.
    We got a lawyer, and we are requesting defacto as well prospective adoptive parents.
    I was thinking to get a private investigator to get proofs that family is not doing good. Can the court accept this?
    Any other suggestions? She is completed bonded to us and we to her. We think the baby can get psychologically hurt.

    1. As per federal law, children must have a permanency plan if they have been in care 15 out of the past 22 months. Usually around the 10th month of placement a permanency hearing occurs to determine this for the child. Termination of parental rights and adoption can be a very lengthy process and is different for each family whether a relative or not. There are many things that can delay this process such as court delays, new information on the family, ect. Child Protection Services must prove to the courts that this is the only option for the child to have a safe and permanent home in order to move forward with this permanency plan. It is taken very seriously and due to this the process can be delayed.

      Unfortunately, we cannot provide legal advice; however advocating for the child by sharing you concerns with all caseworkers on the child’s case may assist. You want to ensure that you follow Child Protective Services in California’s chain of command to ensure that your concerns are fully shared with everyone involved. Also, documenting your communication via email may also assist as your communication will be written and time stamped, if you need to prove something in the future.

      You may also be able to request a bonding evaluation with the child to have a professional oversee the bond the child has with you. We know this process can be frustrating; however ensuring that you are advocating for the child to all parties involved will assist with the child having the best permanency plan.

  21. We had twin 7 month old boys placed with us in Feb 2016. They were returned to bio mom in May & they were returned to us in Jun along with their 6 yr old twin sis. We p/up the babies every Fri in May from bio mom & returned them on Mon. We had them every weekend in Jun until they were placed with us again that month. The babies are now 1 1/2 & will have been in our lives a year next month. Question: does the court not count the 3 months the babies were with us the 1st time b/c they were retuned to bio mom for a month? Even though we still saw them every weekend? Or can we expect that this will be incl in the 12 month procedure to begin terminating rights?

    1. In NJ, when a child or children are placed into care they will have visitation with their biological families and then return to the resource (foster) home after the visitation occurs. In this case, it appears that you would visit with the children and then return them to their biological family. This seems to be an unusual situation if this is the case.

      If the children’s permanency plan is moving towards adoption than the court, along with the children’s caseworker, should take your connection to the children into consideration for placement and possible adoption. Advocate to the court and with the caseworker that you wish to care for the children. Tell them you feel that it is in their best interest as the children have a connection with you. This information is closely looked at as the children’s permanency hearing approaches. It is never too early to advocate for the children so all parties are aware of your connection with the children.

  22. I am wanting to obtain some information on how I go about getting custody of my two nephews. They have been in CPS care for 3 1/2 years now and my sisters rights were just severed. They have been in foster care homes (multiple ones) for the last year and a half. CPS denied me as placement due to me living in the home where the children were cared for 50% the time when the unexplained injuries occurred. Now that my sister’s rights have been severed I need to know how I would go about adopting these boys permanently. Is this even a possibility? I know in Arizona there is a “grandparents” rights law. However, my mother is being told that these rights are not valid when kids are in CPS custody. Is this true? We are wanting the boys to return home and although they can not be returned to their mother (their fathers are not in the picture) there are a few of us within the family that are more than willing to adopt these boys and care for them as our own. I have done tons of Google research and have not come up with anything close to answering my questions about our situation. Can someone please help or direct me to something that can give me answers. Thank you

    1. Hi Amber,

      If a Child Protection Agency has denied a family as a placement whether kin or not it can be very difficult to overturn this decision. A family that is seeking to obtain custody of children can always go through their local court to petition for custody, whether the children are in the care and custody of a Child Protection Agency or not. The Child Protection Agency will be involved with this as when children are removed from their family they are placed into the custody of the state in which they reside. It is also best to follow the chain of command within the child’s caseworker’s office to ensure that your wish and/or concerns are being addressed. This would consist of notifying the caseworker, their supervisor and the supervisor’s supervisor.

  23. My wife and I just got a one week old baby boy. He’s very precious and we’d love to adopt him. His mom was on drugs and on the Application for placement of children mother’s parental right terminated was checked as YES. The father is no where to be found and the baby’s birth certificate wasn’t signed by neither parents, it’s literally blank. My question is are we going to be able to adopt him?

    1. Hi Theresa,

      In order for adoption to occur both parents right need to be terminated. In regards to the possibility of adopting the child, you would need to speak directly to the child’s caseworker and supervisor to see if the child is able to be adopted at this time. You should also indicate that you are interested in adopting. The caseworker and supervisor should be able to share the adoption status of the child and will want to know your willingness to adopt.

  24. I am on the opposite side of all of this and to some on here I might be a low life but, I have a question and maybe someone on here can help. I am the birth mother of a beautiful 6 month old daughter. Well Cps got involved with us at the hospital and I was already having plans for my sister in law to adopt her.Well at the hospital Cps took her instead but after a month or so the court placed my daughter with my sister in law and now our rights has been terminated so she can do the kinship but now there has been 3 different workers to go investigate my sister in law and threatening her about taking away the baby. Just the other day a new “worker came and spent three hours at her house we are scared they (Cps) is trying to find something or any reason to take the baby away. Everyone at court agreed with the kinship but we are still scares that they will end up taking our daughter away for good, are they allowed to do this and why are there that many caseworkers? Please someone anyone help!!

    1. Christine, we do not consider bio parents in this situation to be lowlifes. There are a myriad of reasons CPS can get involved and our concern remains only and always with the child. We aren’t here to judge, we’re here to help.

      Unfortunately, if Child Protection Services has concerns regarding a biological parent, the child or children can be removed from the parent at the hospital. Most Child Protection Agencies aim to have the child or children placed into care with kinship caregivers as this is least traumatic for the child. Usually, there is a caseworker for the child and the biological parent as well as a caseworker for the kinship caregiver that comes to the home. There is also an attorney that is assigned to child that will visit with the child and the kinship caregiver. There may also be in inspector that visits with the kinship caregiver to license their home as a foster parent. This can cause confusion as there are so many different people coming into the kinship caregivers home.

      If you and the kinship caregiver have concerns regarding a caseworker or caseworkers, it is best to follow the chain of command to report your concerns. This would be followed by addressing your concerns with the caseworkers supervisor, and then their supervisor and so on and so forth. If you reside in New Jersey, you can also report your concerns to the Office of Advocacy which will complete an internal investigation of your concern. They can be reached at 1-877-543-7864. If you do not reside in New Jersey, you can request to know of a department that will investigate your concerns internally. Please be aware that not all states will have this service.

  25. Hello I am in Sacramento and I am a birth mother of a beautiful 6 month old little girl, and my sister in law is in the processes of doing a kinship my rights was terminated on the first of Feb. I need some help. There has been 3 different Cps caseworkers that spent three hours at her house..Why are there so many different workers? The last lady that went threatened her about taking the baby,if in court everyone agreed to the kinship and the baby is not in harm can they just come in and take the baby?
    How much longer does my sister in law have to worry about these people watching every move she makes and be able to live her life happily?

  26. Just want to thank-you,I have learned a few things from reading all if this .I’m a foster parent moving into adoption next month in Mississippi and this has help some.

  27. We are four years into a foster/adopt placement with a now 11 year old girl. There has been no visitation with her mother since she was 6 and the mom still retains an attorney somehow and won’t quit the fight. This story goes much deeper, but we still live in dread that she may somehow pull this off and regain custody. Our daughter has terrible memories of her life then and only knows the love and healing we have provided. It would destroy her life to return to her mom and the only life she could provide is one of near poverty, illiteracy and certain early pregnancy for our daughter. This is a nightmare for us. There is one other sibling involved and three half siblings from the mom’s sister. All are fathered by their moms husband, the stepdad. It’s complicated. Only in Mississippi!!

    1. It can be very challenging when you are caring for a child while also dealing with custody and court matters. As per US Federal Law, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 requires that States move towards termination of parental rights for children who have been in foster care for 15 out of 22 months. There are acceptations to this requirement and attorneys and court process can delay this timeline greatly. Due to your concern it is appropriate to express your concerns to the caseworkers, child’s Law Guardian, and the Judge on the case. It is appropriate for foster parents to write their concerns in a letter and send copies to all parties to ensure their concerns are shared. Since the child is eleven she is old enough to voice her opinion to caseworkers and the Law Guardian. She can also request to speak to the Judge to voice her wishes regarding her well being.

  28. Hi im interested in taking guardianship of a close family friends kids who have been placed with there great aunt whom is overwhelmed with the case and health of the rest of her family but I am in Nevada and the kids are in California and bmother still has not lost rights yet even though it’s been almost 4 years is there a way to get information about the case and have them transfered to me as fosters until her rights are terminated and then I can adopt them or will it be because I’m not blood I don’t have a chance of getting them into my care and safety

    1. It is possible to transfer children through state lines in order to have them placed with you. If you wish to be an eligible home for these children, you would have to notify California Child Protective Services (CPS). California’s CPS offices are broken down by county so you will need to know the county the children reside in, in order to contact the appropriate office. You will want to make the office aware of your willingness to care for the children as soon as possible so they are aware of you as a possible placement. Also, becoming a licensed foster parent in your state may also assist with the children being placed with you in the future. Nevada CPS is also broken down by county so you will need to find your CPS county office and contact them to start the licensing process.

  29. My husband and I have been trying to adopt our nephew in OK for over a year now and the foster parents want to adopt him also. He has already been placed with us but foster parents are now challenging us so next step is court and the final decision. My husband and I cannot afford an attorney but we are looking for a free consultation.

    1. Going through the court process in this situation can be very difficult. Unfortunately, our organization assists NJ resource, kinship and adoptive families. However, I was able to locate the below sites that offer free legal advice in Oklahoma. First, is Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, second is Legal Aid of Oklahoma and third is Oklahoma Bar Association.

  30. We are trying to get my partners little cousins out of foster care. We had no idea they were in foster care and the 2 year old has 2 broken arms, 1 fractured leg and bruises all over her body. The baby is 10 months old and has been in foster care since birth, she may have shaken baby syndrome. We reside in Delaware and the babies are in foster in NY. We drove 6 hours to attend a court hearing where we were basically told that the state is not releasing them at this time. The judge ordered that the icpi be started but said that it could take 3-4 months. How can this be?! The 2 year old has already spent her birthday in the hospital when this all began and now the baby will spend her 1st birthday in foster care! I just don’t understand why this is taking so long. Is there any way to try to expedite this? Is there anyone that we can call that may be able to help? Delaware state officials or would we need to contact only officials in NY state? I am glad that I have never had to deal with child services, it seems that it is all about money and not what is in the best interest of the children.

    1. It can be very challenging when a situation arises where a family is out of state from a child that is in care. States usually seek to place a child or children with kin whenever possible; however there can be areas that can make this challenging depending on the case. It is good that Interstate Compact on the Placement Children (ICPC) is aware and the Judge has ordered this process to begin. ICPC can take a few months to complete all necessary paperwork as this agency is based on the legal agreement between all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands that controls the placement of children from one state into another state. It ensures that children moving through state lines are safe, potential caregivers are suitable, and guarantees that the individual or entity placing the child remains legally and financially responsible following placement. In order for an ICPC placement request to get started, the child’s caseworker in the state the child is located creates a packet that includes a child’s social, medical, and educational history and the current status of any court case involving the child. The packet will also include information about you as you are being considered for placement of the child in the receiving state so that the receiving state will know who they should be evaluating for possible placement. New York ICPC office will send this packet to the Delaware ICPC office which will then be shared with Delaware Child Protection and a caseworker will begin to assess you and your home for placement. When this assessment is complete the Child Protection office will then send the packet to Delaware ICPC office which will then be sent to New York ICPC office and then to New York Child Protection Agency. You can also reach out to the Delaware and New York ICPC offices to obtain status of this case. I have added links to both offices to assist you.

      You will want to remain in contact with the child’s caseworker and supervisor in New York so that continued communication between you and them is established and maintained. Also, starting the process of becoming a licensed foster parent in your state may also assist with the children being placed with you quicker; however this is not guaranteed. I have added a link to Delaware Foster Care information and contact page to further assist.

  31. Sorry about the last comment, my phone crashed and there were lots of mistakes in it that I couldn’t modify (like writing 3 yrs instead of months).here’s the actual one :

    I’m writing about a case that happened to my aunt in France but placed it in California (for anonymity issues). Now her case happened 20 years ago so between the difference in the time and place, things are bound to happen differently and I want this to be as accurate as possible so I’m asking where I can.
    She was adopted as a 3 months old and it was fine until she turned 6 and up until she was 8-9 yr old at which point she ran away. She was beaten and generally abused (verbally, emotionally and they neglected to treat her medically) mostly by her father when he was drunk. So when she ran away from home one night after she couldn’t stand being beaten up and was found by a guy who happened to be a foster parent as of the week before. He took her to the hospital and filled out the paperwork necessary to report that abuse. I think those part are fairly similar whether it’s in France or America.
    So then she was place under his care by social services and after about three years he managed to adopt her. My question is how would it work here and now ? I think the father would face something like 3 years in prison (still not sure about that one) but the mother probably wouldn’t have been found with anything besides neglecting to treat her daughter (and aiding her husband but I still have trouble finding anything concrete). So she’d probably be given those parental rehab classes right ? if so but the child showed no desire to go back to her after 6 months even if the court considered she had “made it” would the 1st adoptive mother still get to keep her ? Even though she hadn’t really cared for her in years and it was more about pride by then while the foster father totally loved her and was actually really good at the whole parenting stuff. Because the kid hasn’t forgotten that her mother hurt her too (if only by not defending her).
    And if the guy still got to adopt her about how long to you think it would take (by a 6months margin) ?

    1. Hi Celia

      Thank you for reaching out to us. It is very important to point out if at any point in time there is any suspicion of abuse and/or neglect of a child it is important that it be reported by reaching out to Child Protective Services in the state that the child resides in. Here in NJ, you would call 877-NJABUSE (877-652-2873) to report abuse and/or neglect and if the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) determined that the situation warranted the removal of a child they will do so.

      Child Protection Services (CPS) in any state or country are required to assess the safety of each child that reside within them, taking into consideration the child‘s need for safety, permanency, and well-being, and the ability of the caregiver to meet these needs. When a child is removed from their biological parents within the U.S., as per US Federal Law, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 requires that States move towards termination of parental rights for children who have been in foster care for 15 out of 22 months. There are acceptations to this requirement as certain factors can delay this timeline greatly. With this federal guideline the clock of 15 out of 22 months does not stop. Therefore, if a child is removed from biological parents prior for 10 months and then removed again this federal timeline technically does not stop but again certain areas can delay the process.

      When a child is removed from their biological parents within the U.S. the state the family resides in will usually place court ordered services for the biological parents to complete such as but not limited to substance abuse evaluations and treatment, psychological evaluations and/or parenting classes. Also, if the child is of an age and maturity the child can voice their wishes to their caseworkers and Judge if the child does not want to return to the care of their biological parents. The child’s wishes will be taken into considerations as a permanency plan is made for the child.

      In regards to who would obtain custody of the child, this depends greatly and is handled on a case by case scenario. Usually, CPS will try to place children with relatives for someone that has a developed relationship with the child as this type of care will be less traumatic for the child. If the child has a relationship and positive connection with the foster parent then it is likely that the child will remain with this individual. If this is the case and the child’s permanency goal is adoption and the foster parent is seeking to adopt the child it is again likely that this would occur; however every case within the U.S. is handled on a case by case basis and there are many factors that play into a child’s permanency plan.

      I hope this information is helpful to you!

      Jessica Hernandez
      FAFS Family Advocate

  32. Hi-

    I am currently in an appeal ( Termination of parental rights Dec. ’16) . I was told it may take another 4-5 months before it is overturned. However- I have a job waiting in another state. Can I take the children while we are going through the appeal?

    1. You cannot take children under that care and custody of Child Protective Services out of state without prior Child Protective Services approval. If you are seeking to take children out of state you should notify their caseworker as soon as possible to obtain approval. It is not recommended to ever take children in care out of state without previous approval.

  33. Hi, I have had my 22 month foster daughter for 11 months now and we are in the process of adopting her. The judge may be terminating the mothers parental rights next month. now a family member from another state has come forward to take the child. my question is if the judge terminates the mothers rights does that mean the rights of relatives are terminated as well ? or can a relative hold up the process of adoption?

  34. My nieces have been in foster care for 51/2 months and the foster parents wants to adopt them
    I want to do kinship and keep them Until the mother gets herself together. what can I do, the
    Foster care agency in NJ has contacted my daughter and I , but their only concern is the foster parent adopting them, I thought the goal of fostering was to return the children to their mother what has changed. I think they are going to prolong the process so the family can adopt.

    1. Thank you for reaching out, Evita. If the children are here in NJ, as a relative, it is important that you are contacting the caseworker directly to express that you are interested in being a potential placement. You would have to have ample space in your home and will have to become licensed which would include background checks, fingerprinting, training, etc. I would highly recommend that you give us a call at 800-222-0047 and ask to speak to your Family Advocate for your county for further support and/or advocacy to assist in this situation.

      Jessica Hernandez
      FAFS Family Advocate

      1. Thanks for your quick response I did want to start class, I went to the orientation but they said they I would be doing kinship and the classes are shorter.
        They also stated that if New Jersey does the criminal and background and pass I could get the kids and then start my training . But the social working said he started the transfer
        Which is the (ICPC) interstate compact on the placement of children
        But I just hope they are doing it.

  35. Hi, I have had four year old foster child for 23 months now. Her mother rights are not terminated yet. We wanted to adopt her because she has more attachment with us. Can we file for adoption petition for my foster child or hire a child protection attorney to make things move. I don’t have much hope with foster agency. Please can you advice me on this matter. I appreciate your help.

    1. Hi Hannah – thanks for reaching out. It’s difficult to advise specifically as I’m not sure whether you’re located in New Jersey, or whether you live elsewhere. If you’re in New Jersey, the best thing that you can do is to speak with your foster child’s caseworker, or the caseworker’s supervisor, to find out what the case plan is for the child. They should be able to tell you whether the current plan is to move forward with adoption, or whether they’re still considering reunification as an option. Often the termination of parental rights can take longer if it’s undetermined whether the end goal is reunification or adoption, especially if they’re working with the biological mother to figure out a plan. Unfortunately, as the child is currently in the custody of the state, and the parental rights haven’t yet been terminated, the best thing you can do is to make sure that the child’s caseworker is aware that you would like to adopt her. In the meantime, keep supporting her as you have been so far, and maintain open lines of communication with the caseworkers – they’re your best resource in terms of keeping track of what’s going on.

      Collie Crisman
      FAFS Family Advocate

  36. A frnd of mine HV just place her child for adobtion she is still in foster care can she buy for her something’s she might need while she waiting to be adobted

  37. My nieces are 6 months and have been in foster care since they were 1 month old they are in pre adoption and I’m trying to get custody of them. Talk to the social worker but I feel they are being slow because they want the children to be adopted. As family what can I do about this
    My nieces are in New Jersey and I’m in Newyork he said he started the ICPC and the criminal background check but haven’t heard anything

    1. Hi Evita,
      Thanks for reaching out again in regards to your current ICPC case with your nieces. I can completely understand your frustration with the ICPC process as it does involve multiple people and can get overwhelming; however, I hope that the following ICPC resources will be of help to you along the process. Your nieces’ caseworker here in NJ has to submit an ICPC request to the NJ ICPC office in order to get the process started and it will be assigned to an ICPC Specialist. The NJ ICPC Specialist will then send the request to the NY ICPC office who will assign it to a NY ICPC Specialist. From there, the NY ICPC Specialist with reach out to the ACS office that you are working with so that they can begin the licensing process with you. Every time information is sent back in forth, it has to go through these 4 offices/individuals which is what takes time and makes the process lengthy.
      Feel free to visit for more in-depth information on the policy/procedures (as the sending state) for ICPC in the state of NJ as well as information on the NJ ICPC Specialist handling your nieces’ case. Please feel free to visit for more in-depth information on the policy/procedures (as the receiving state) for ICPC in the state of NY as well as information on the NY ICPC Specialist handling your nieces’ case. I would highly recommend that you reach out to the NJ ICPC Specialist to assure that they are received the request and/or to see if it has been sent out to the NY ICPC Specialist as of yet. Please keep in mind that the ICPC Specialists are assigned by the childrens’ last name.
      Here at FAFS, we pride ourselves in providing as much information, support, and advocacy for individuals going through the licensing process, as well as our foster, adoptive and kinship providers. Feel free to visit to read our blog on The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) for additional information as well. It is also important that you document everything and anything in regards to your nieces case and maintain communication with all parties involved. I hope this information has been useful for you! 
      Thank you for your time,
      Jessica Hernandez
      FAFS Family Advocate

  38. I am a mother of six. Cps terminated my reunification services on 07/19/2017. I have two that they are trying to adopt out they are 1 year and 2 months. If I go to a rehab now do I still have a chance to get my kids back. I don’t know what to do no one will help me. I go to court on 11/08/2017 for permanent placement. Can someone please email me at if you can help me in any way. Please I can’t lose my babies. Thank you in advance!!!

    1. Hi Randi,
      Thanks so much for reaching out to us with your questions. I am so sorry to hear that you are going through such difficult times. It is great to hear that you are looking at going into rehab. I would highly recommend that you advise the children’s caseworker of this and your court appointed lawyer as well.
      While there may be a lot of contributing factors being taken into consideration in regards to your specific case, I do want to share some information that hopefully will be of use to you. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) is a federal foster care law that prioritizes the safety, health and permanency of children. As per this law, states are required to file a petition to terminate parental rights and locate an adoptive family for any child who has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months. In addition, states may file for termination of parental rights earlier than 15 months or for other reasons. The clock starts to run on the date of the first judicial finding of abuse or neglect or 60 days after the child is removed from the home, whichever is earlier. For children already in care, states are required to phase in the filing of termination petitions beginning with children for whom permanency plan is adoption or who have been in care the longest.
      If you live in NJ, please call us at 800-222-0047 and ask to speak to the Family Advocate who covers your county, for further support and/or resources in order to further assist. Thank you for reaching out and I wish you nothing but the best.
      Jessica Hernandez
      FAFS Family Advocate

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