Do you understand what it means to adopt a child? Jessica Heesch provides us with a beautiful insight into the reality of adoption in her article, “Define Adopt.” She describes adoption as an “all-encompassing, life-changing, hopeful, and a lifelong process.” She goes on to describe her experience in the courtroom during the day her son’s adoption was finalized. The judge asked her and her husband a question, and she details the situation in this article.

“I remember when we were in court officially adopting our son, and the judge asked us what adoption meant to us and if we understood that it was something that was forever. As my husband fought back the tears, he explained what it meant for us to finally become a family of three through the gift of adoption. He explained that we would never look at our son like he was anything less than ours. He explained that we would love him like he was our own until our dying day. He explained that this was not something we decided on a whim. This was something we wanted and was by choice. He explained that we understood that we were making this choice for our son’s entire life. And that adopting our son was accepting him as our flesh and blood. No questions asked. No looking back. From that moment forward, he was ours, and we were his!”

Regardless of the state you live in, a national requirement for adopting a child is to make the decision to love a child unconditionally while providing a safe and loving environment for him or her. The excerpt above from Jessica’s article provides an outstanding example of what it means to love a child unconditionally in an adoptive situation.

If you are looking into information regarding adoption in Alabama, you’ve come to the right place. We are going to explore the specific requirements and information specific to adoption in Alabama. Adoption laws differ from state to state. This link is very informational regarding the laws specific to each state and provides the option to search specifically for these Alabama laws for many different topics which are listed below:

Consents to Adoption

Criminal Background Checks

Termination of Parental Rights

Home Study Requirements

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Domestic Adoption Expenses

Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Advertising and Facilitators

Who May Be Part of Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

Adoptee Inheritance Rights

Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

Readoption after International Adoption

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

According to the Alabama Department of Human Resources, there are always hundreds of foster children waiting for adoption in Alabama. The Alabama DHR has resourceful adoption information specific to Adoption in Alabama. Here, you will find links to more helpful and informational sites that will help aspiring adoptive parents on their journey. An interesting fact that I’ve learned from the Alabama DHR is that the state of Alabama does not charge fees for the adoption home study nor the actual placement of children. The Alabama DHR has provided easy access to loads of helpful information pertaining to adoption in Alabama. These additional sites and information are listed below.

The Adoption Checklist

Here, you will find a helpful guide to follow on your journey through adoption in Alabama. They provide you with the seven steps you will want to follow as you navigate through adoption in Alabama, and they also provide detailed information and additional resources for each step. The Adoption Checklist they’ve provided includes the seven steps listed below:

Step 1: Meeting Adoption Requirements: In addition to having a great desire to parent, nurture, love, and provide for children that need a forever home, there are additional basic requirements that adults need to meet. The Alabama DHS include these requirements in Step 1.

- You must be over 19 years of age.

- If married, your marriage must be of at least three years duration.

- If you are a married couple, one must be a U.S. citizen.

- You must have adequate housing and personal space for the child or children adopted.

- You must be healthy enough to meet a child’s needs.

- You must be willing to undergo a thorough background check, including criminal history.

Step 2: Application Submittal: This step provides information on submitting your application for adoption in Alabama. This process includes completing an online inquiry form which can be located at this link. You will need to provide the following information while you complete this online inquiry form:

- Full name and date of birth

- Who else lives in your home

- Where you live

- If you’ve ever fostered before and additional specific home study information.

- Contact information including multiple telephone numbers, email address, and preferred method of contact.

- Languages preferred (spoken and written)

- Child preferences if available

Step 3: Group Preparation & Selection: After steps one and two are completed, you will be contacted regarding Group Preparation & Selection (GPS) meetings. According to the Alabama DHS, “GPS is a program designed specifically to educate potential adoptive and foster parent families on a variety of pertinent topics on their upcoming adoption experience. Topics covered in GPS meetings include discussion of the children available, the impact adoption may have on your family, behavior management techniques, separation and loss issues, and more. This preparation program will consist of 10 meetings totaling 30 classroom hours. In addition, the social worker will schedule a time to interview you and other family members in your home. Throughout the GPS meetings, a mutual selection process will help you and your family decide if adoption is right for you, what type of child will fit best in your family, and assist you in assessing your families strengths and needs.”

Step 4: Your Approval as an Adoptive Resource: The county department of resources will be the point of contact regarding your approval after you’ve completed the appropriate steps, family profile, and home study. Additional information regarding this step and time during this step is included in this resource.

Step 5: Background Information & Preplacement Visits: In this step, the approved potential adoptive parents are able to review the child or children’s background information and address and questions or concerns that they have. The potential adoptive parents will also have the ability to begin visits with their potential adoptive children. This step may also lead to a decision to move forward with a placement agreement.

Step 6: Legal Action: This step begins once a child has been placed in a home for at least three months. A social worker will provide prospective adoptive parents the “Department’s Consent to Adopt” so that they may begin legal processes in this step.

Step 7: Adoption: A Lifelong Process: The Alabama Department of Human Resources provides an excellent, detailed description of this last step in this resourceful link. This is what they detail for Step 7: “The legal confirmation of your adoption is not the end, but rather the beginning of an experience that is unique. There will be exciting times and there may be challenges. Alabama Post Adoption Connections (APAC) is available to you and your family on your journey. Libraries (offering books, videos and other resource material), adoptive family groups, Buddy Family mentors, trained therapists network, a toll-free warm line for information and referral and camperships are but a few of the ways APAC provides support, education and empowerment to the adoption community. Contact APAC at 1-866-803-2722 and www.childrensaid.org/apac.”

Adoption FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

This resource provides the commonly asked questions pertaining to adoption in Alabama. For your convenience, I have listed below these questions that the Alabama Department of Human Services provides answers for. Please visit their link if you are interested in learning the answers to these commonly asked questions.

1. If I am interested in adopting a child from the Department of Human Resources, how do I apply?

2. How can I find out about children currently available for adoption?

3. How can adult adoptees get information on their adoption?

4. Can a birth mother or birth father member request the Office of Adoption locate the adoptee?

5. I have just moved to Alabama with an adopted child receiving adoption assistance that includes Medicaid. How can I get my child certified to receive Alabama Medicaid?

6. I am moving to another state with an adopted child receiving adoption assistance that includes Medicaid. How can I get my child certified to receive Medicaid in my new resident state?

Additional Adoption Resources

The Alabama Department of Human Resources provides a list of additional resources and contacts pertaining to adoption in Alabama. This list provides the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses to multiple different associations and adoption references that can help potential adoptive parents on their journey.

“It would still mean love, everlasting, unconditional love. A love you never knew existed. A love you didn’t know could exist. A love you only dreamed and hoped for. An experience you didn’t know if you would ever be able to experience. A love so strong built on a desire to become a family. A love that grew in your heart. A love that grows with each passing stage in your child’s life. A love so divine. A love that runs thicker than blood.” In Jessica Heesch’s article, “Define Adopt,” her beautiful views of what adoption means and the love that consists in an adoption melts my heart. I wish you the best of luck on your journey in this amazing type of love.