Learn about the placement process to adopt a child

Every child deserves a nurturing, stable home. Learn how children are matched with adoptive parents.


Once you’ve been approved to adopt a child in Massachusetts, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will work to find a child who could thrive in your family.

There is no set time for how long this placement process can take — it’s all about finding the best match for everyone involved.

The process

When DCF finds a child in their care who may be a good fit for your family, you’ll go through the following steps. Keep in mind that the transition plan is different for every child.

  1. DCF gives you basic information about the child.

    This information includes:

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Specific care needs

    In some cases, a child’s birth parents have not agreed to give up their legal parental rights. DCF may place a child with a stable and loving pre-adoptive family while they seek a termination of rights in court.

    If the child is in this situation, DCF will inform you at this stage, because there is a risk that you may not ultimately be able to adopt them. However, DCF believes it’s in the best interest of every child to be placed in a potentially permanent home as soon as possible.

    Based on this information, you can decide if you want to learn more.

  2. DCF sets up a meeting to provide more details about the child.

    This can include:

    • Full medical history
    • Living situation
    • Family connections
  3. You meet people from the child’s life (if possible).

    In some cases, you may have a chance to meet with teachers, foster parents, or other professionals who have a relationship with the child you may adopt.

  4. Take some time to think.

    DCF recommends that you take a few days to think about everything you’ve learned before you decide if you’d like to meet the child.

  5. DCF sets up meetings at the child’s foster home.

    If you decide to go ahead with the process, DCF will schedule visits with the child. The first few times you meet them will be at their foster home or somewhere else where they feel comfortable.

  6. Plan outside visits.

    If your initial visits go well and everyone is comfortable, you can plan visits outside of the child’s home, like a trip to a park or out for a meal. When you and the child are both comfortable, you can schedule visits at your home.

  7. The child moves into your home.

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