By Capt. Kenneth Hall, Fort Rucker Office of the Staff Judge AdvocateSeptember 27, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 27, 2012) -- Did you know that in 2011 there were 1,296 children in Alabama waiting for an adoptive home? Did you know that you can go online and view pictures of these children?
If you're considering adoption in Alabama, here's some information that may come in handy:
If you're adopting in Alabama, you must be over 19 years old, and healthy enough to care for a child. If you're married, the marriage needs to be at least three years long. At least one person in the marriage should be a U.S. citizen. Of course, your home must have enough room for the child, and a background check will be conducted on everyone in the home older than 19.
If you adopt a child through the Alabama Department of Human Resources, no fees are charged. If you use a private agency there will be fees. Also, you may have to pay court costs to get the adoption finalized; however, if you adopt a child through DHR, then you may be eligible for reimbursement of your adoption-related costs, including all court costs.
The Department of Defense also sponsors an adoption reimbursement program for qualified military Families. The DOD adoption reimbursement program will cover certain expenses associated with adoption -- up to $2,000. To qualify for the DOD reimbursement, the service member must be on continuous active duty for at least 180 days and the adoption must be complete while on active duty. You must submit a DD Form 2675 to request reimbursement no later than one year after the adoption is final.
For more information on this DOD program, send an email to CCL-Adoptionfirstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're interested in adopting a child, your first step should be to contact the Alabama DHR by calling 1 (866) 4AL-KIDS (425-5437) or emailing Families4ALKids@dhr.alabama.gov. You can request an adoption application and ask any questions. Once you complete the adoption application, return it to the nearest DHR county office. DHR has an office in Ozark located at 513 Carroll Avenue; it can be reached by calling 445-4900. In Dothan, DHR's office is located at 1605 Ross Clark Circle, and its telephone number is 677-0400.
After Alabama DHR accepts your application, you'll attend 30 classroom hours of adoptive education. You'll receive training on behavior management, needs of children and the impact of adoption on everyone.
DHR conducts a Family profile and home study of your household after your adoption application is accepted. The home study helps determine if you fit the model of a potential adoptive parent. DHR performs the home study within 24 months of the date that you ultimately send a request to the court to recognize an adoption.
After your local Alabama DHR selects you as a potential adoptive parent for a specific child, you'll be able to meet the child in pre-placement visits. If everything goes well, you can sign a placement agreement and the child will be placed in your home.
Once the child has been with you for at least three months, you can request the court to recognize him or her as your own son or daughter. A local county social worker from Alabama DHR can help you with the Consent to Adopt Form that goes to the court. It is up to the County's Probate Court if an attorney is needed to file the adoption forms.
Even after the adoption is finalized, Alabama has a "Post Adoption Connections" program available to help you. This program is available to you for years after the adoption is complete. To reach the post adoption program, visit www.casapac.org.
Adopting a child is a great thing. Just take the time to research everything involved in the adoption process.
Legal assistance in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate is ready to help you. Finally, and most importantly, make sure you're willing to give unconditional love to your child for the rest of your life.