Guide Adopting a child in Massachusetts

What it means to adopt a child

The goal of adoption is to provide a permanent, supportive home for a child. Ultimately, the child you adopt will become a legal member of your family, and their birth certificate will be changed to reflect your lifelong bond.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) cares for children of all ages, from infancy to 18 and from all ethnic and economic backgrounds. Many have experienced abuse, neglect, or other hardships. Most of the children waiting to be adopted are between 6 and 12 years old. There is no cost to adopt a child.

DCF can help you find the child (or children) who can make your family whole. If you’re interested, call or email to learn more about adoption and how to start the process.

It usually takes 6 to 9 months to get licensed to adopt.

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Learn the skills you need

30 hours Length of MAPP training course

As an adoptive parent, you have to know how to support your child when they struggle. It means being a problem solver and a good communicator, and facing every challenge with compassion and a smile.

While nothing can ever completely prepare you for the ups and downs of parenthood, DCF’s Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) training is a great place to start.

This 30-hour course teaches skills including:

  • Building self-esteem
  • Positive discipline
  • Communication

These classes are available all over the state. They cover basic parenting topics and some of the unique challenges of adoption.

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Finding the right family for a child

After you have completed your training, passed a home inspection, and are officially licensed to adopt, DCF works to find the most suitable match between your family and a child waiting for adoption.

When DCF finds a child that could thrive in your home, you'll be given some basic personal information. If you’re interested, DCF will provide more extensive information about their background, medical history, and other details to help you understand who they are and the care they may need.

If you decide to move forward, then you will meet the child who could become part of your family. First, you’ll visit them in their foster home, where they feel most secure. Eventually, these visits can turn into outings and other adventures together before you can finally welcome the child to visit your home.

Once you’re ready to become a family, the child has to live in your home for at least 6 months before DCF officially legalizes the adoption.

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Support for adoptive parents

Wherever you are in the adoption process, you probably have questions about what comes next. Your DCF social worker can help you navigate a lot of these steps, but you have other resources, too.

From information sessions and support groups to financial assistance and health coverage, Massachusetts offers many services to help you and your growing family thrive. After all, once you get started on this path, you’re a part of the DCF family too!

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