In Colorado, you have multiple options to adopt a child, including state foster care. You can choose to foster a child, meaning you provide them with a temporary home until they get a permanent placement with their biological family or an adoptive one. You can also choose the foster-to-adopt path, where you provide a long-term home for a child and apply to adopt them if they become eligible for adoption.
Being a foster parent is not a requirement to adopt from foster care in Colorado, but a child must be legally adoptable. This means that their biological parents have officially terminated their parental rights, or that a court has made this decision based on the child’s best interests.
Children “age out” of foster care in Colorado when they turn 18, but a court may approve their adoption until they are 21. You can also consider adult adoption in certain cases, especially if you were their foster parents for a long time and have maintained a healthy and loving relationship with them.
What Are Adoption Requirements in Colorado?
To adopt a child in Colorado, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Own or rent a home
- Work with a placement agency, private or county-operated
You can be single, married, divorced, or widowed. Previous parenting experience is not necessary. You may or may not have children currently living at your home.
Adopting a child from the public welfare system is usually the most cost-effective option. Foster-to-adopt or adoptive parents may be eligible for tax and educational benefits.
Understanding the Steps of the Adoption Process
After meeting with one or more child placement agencies, you generally attend an information session. They can answer a broad range of questions prospective adoptive parents have. This helps you decide which placement agency you want to work with to expand your family.
During an information meeting you can learn about:
- What types of adoption a specific agency handles
- Adoption time frames
- Who is involved in the adoption process
- Colorado child welfare system
The next step is to complete any training the placement agency or county requires, which includes first aid and CPR. If you are a two-parent household, both of you need to attend and complete training.
After training, you begin the home study process. Colorado uses the Structured Analysis Family Evaluation, also known as SAFE, to evaluate hopeful families and certify them if they meet the requirements. This process generally takes three to six months.
Once you are certified to adopt a child, whether you have previously fostered or not, your caseworker works with you to see which child or children are eligible for adoption and may be an appropriate fit for your family and vice versa. If a child is part of a sibling group, the agency may be looking to have all siblings adopted together to maintain their relationships.
Before placing a child with you, the agency shares details about their background, including any information about physical and emotional health. After placement, agency caseworkers visit your house to help with the transition and monitor that the prospective adoptive parents meet the child’s needs. These monthly visits need to take place for at least six months before a court can finalize the adoption.
The adoption hearing happens in the jurisdiction where the placement agency operates. The court finalizes the adoption, and the child officially becomes part of their adoptive family during this hearing.
Benefits of Working with an Adoption Lawyer
If you are interested in adopting a child from Colorado foster care or opt for the foster-to-adopt path, working with an experienced family law attorney can make the process easier and maximize your chances of success.
You may face various hurdles during the adoption process. You are responsible to attend any informational or training sessions and making sure that you can offer a healthy and stable environment to a child. However, a lawyer can help you fill out the paperwork appropriately and accompany you to any hearing. An attorney’s attention to detail and extensive experience can simplify the legal part of adopting a child and alleviate some of your stress.
If you need a reputable adoption lawyer in Colorado, contact Clawson & Clawson, LLP, today at (719) 602-5888 to schedule a consultation!