General FAQs

What are the requirements for adoptive families?

Special needs children require sensitive and committed families who understand the child's unique emotional and developmental needs and challenges. These children need parents who are nurturing, stable, and emotionally strong and who are committed and genuinely value the abilities and potential of children with special needs.

Successful adoptive families have:

  • Appropriate motivations and realistic expectations concerning the special needs of the children;
  • A strong commitment to adoption;
  • An ability to sustain long-term relationships;
  • Flexibility and emotional openness;
  • Good social support systems and knowledge of resources.

You do not have to be rich, childless, or own your own home to adopt a child from foster care. The most important qualification is that you are committed to providing a safe, stable, and nurturing home for a child.

What are the costs for special needs adoption?

When you adopt through the Division of Child & Family Services, there are no placement or application fees. At the time of adoption finalization you may be responsible for the attorney's fees and court costs that range from $1,200 - $1,800. In most cases, an adoption subsidy is available to cover pre-existing psychological, medical and dental needs of the child. Legal fees may also be reimbursed through the adoption subsidy program.

Where do I begin?

If you live in Utah and are interested in a child listed on this website, go to Steps to Foster Care Adoption If you live in a different state, you will need to have a completed, approved adoptive home study before you can be considered for a child. If you currently have an approved home study, you can submit it to the Division of Child & Family Services for approval. However, you will be required to attend special needs training provided by the state of Utah or some comparable training in the area in which you live.

How long does it take to adopt?

Some families may wait only a few days after the completion of the home study process before a placement is made. Other families may wait a few weeks or months before the right opportunity for placement is presented. Much depends upon the type and age of the child you wish to adopt. The primary concern of the Division of Child & Family Services is the child's needs, not how long a family has been waiting for a placement. By law, a child must be living in your home a minimum of six months before the adoption can be finalized.

How does Utah's Adoption Connection work?

When a child cannot return to his/her family of origin, the birth parents' rights are legally terminated. If a relatives' home is not available and no other adoptive placement has been identified within 30 days after the child’s goal changes from returning home to adoption, then a child is listed on this website. This will make families wanting to adopt aware of what children are available in Utah, hopefully providing permanency much quicker for the child who is waiting. You may view a child's profile and if you would like more information or would like to talk with the child's caseworker. You may fill out an inquiry form and send it electronically to them. In turn, the caseworker will contact you within 2-4 weeks.

Questions About This Site

Utah's Adoption Connection was developed and is being managed by The Adoption Exchange through a contract with the Utah Department of Human Services (Division of Child & Family Services). The goals of this website are to:

  • Decrease the time children must wait in foster care for a permanent family;
  • Make it easier for social workers to find out about possible families for their children statewide;
  • Help families who are interested in adopting from foster care aware of the children who are waiting.

Who are the children?

Children who are available for adoption through Utah's Division of Child & Family Services have been removed from their own families because of abuse, neglect, or other family problems that make it unsafe for the child to live at home. If the child's parents cannot correct the challenges to make their home safe, then adoption with a new family usually becomes the goal. The children available for adoption may have been in foster care for a few months to a few years. Some are intellectually and developmentally delayed. Some have physical challenges and require special medical care. Some children need intensive psychological counseling and treatment. Many of the children are part of a sibling group and must be placed with brothers and sisters. Twenty percent of the children placed are of a minority race. The Division of Child & Family Services places children of all ages. The average age of a child who is available for adoption is nine years old. Most healthy, newborn infants are placed through independent adoption arrangements or through private agencies. When ever possible children are placed in a home that will foster them until they become legally free for adoption.

How many children are available for adoption?

At any given time, the number of available or waiting children varies depending upon the number of children receiving services in the foster care system. Fifteen to 20 percent of children in foster care become available for adoption. The Division of Child & Family Services places approximately 536 children each year in legal risk or adoptive placements.

Are all the children on this site legally free for adoption?

No, but most have a goal of adoption and reunification services have ended.  For older children many judges are hesitant to terminate parental rights unless there is an adoptive family identified.

Resource Family Questions

What is the process for becoming a Resource Family for the State of Utah?

The process for becoming a resource to the state is the same, whether it is foster care, adoption, or adoptive/foster. Three to five separate agencies can be involved to complete this process. Each of these agencies provides a different service and interacts with the family at different stages in the process.

  • The Adoption Exchange: Recruitment, Wednesday’s Child, post-adoption information, and resources.
  • The Utah Foster Care Foundation: Recruitment, initial consultation, application, training, and retention services.
  • Office of Licensing: Licenses homes to minimum standards and completes the home study.
  • Private Adoption Agency: An agency under contract to provide home studies. (Currently only Children's Service Society)
  • Division of Child & Family Services: Approves the home study and makes decisions on placing children in specific homes.

Usually the initial contact is made with the Utah Foster Care Foundation or Utah’s Adoption Connection through commercials, KSL, or Wednesday’s Child and various outreach programs. General information packets are available through this website. Families can also call Utah’s Adoption Connection and speak with an adoption specialist at 801-265-0444.

Training and application
Training is 36 hours and is generally completed in one month. The training assists families to prepare for the experience of providing care to children who have been removed from their birth family. Trainers give out the application and assist with completing the application process. A certificate is issued after the required training is completed.

Licensing and assessment
Licensing determines if a family and their home meet the minimum requirements for health and safety. They complete a home study or may contract with a private agency. (A license is issued if the family and their home meet the minimum requirements.)

The Division of Child & Family Services placement committee reviews and may approve, defer, or deny a family for placement of children in their custody. If the family is approved the committee then determines how the division will use the family.

Depending on the region of the state where the family lives, the placement process varies with individual caseworkers who can determine placement to placement committees determining placement. In some regions the process differs depending upon the type of placement whether it is foster, adoptive/foster or adoption only.

Continued support
Many areas of the state have Resource Family Consultants. These are Division of Child & Family Services caseworkers who work with foster and adoptive/foster families to provide ongoing support and assistance. Utah Foster Care Foundation also provides on going training to provide additional information for families after the placement of the child. The Office of Licensing sends out re-licensing packets yearly for families who are re-licensing as foster parents. Once a family has finalized an adoption they no longer need a license unless they continue to provide foster care for other children. Each Division of Child & Family Services region should have caseworkers assigned to provide post-adoption support to families after the finalization of an adoption.