Oklahoma Department of Human Services
Sequoyah Memorial Office Building, 2400 N. Lincoln Blvd. • Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-3646 • Fax (405) 521-6684 • Internet: www.okdhs.org
 
Frequently Asked Questions
 
Frequently Asked Questions


The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) provides foster care and adoption services for children who are in the custody of OKDHS and cannot live in their own homes.

When a child is removed for his or her safety and protection, the State of Oklahoma will assist the child’s family and provide support in an effort to reunify the family.  In some cases, despite everyone’s effort this is not a safe plan for children.

 

While we are working with the family to correct the conditions that led to the child being removed, the child is placed with a “Resource Family.”  The resource family is the “BRIDGE” that connects the child and the family while working toward reunification. 

 

The resource family makes a commitment to be the permanent placement for the child and or help that child maintain connections to those important people in their life, if the conditions cannot be corrected for the child to be reunified with the family.

 

If it is determined that reunification is not in the best interest of the child, the court can terminate parental rights or the family can relinquish their custody of the children.  In more than three fourths of the cases where this occurs, Resource Parents eventually adopt the children they have supported through this journey.

 

Who are the children waiting for adoption?

How long does it take to adopt a child?

How much does it cost?

Do I have to earn a lot of money?

Do I have to own my own home?

What if I already have children?

Do I have to be married?

What if I have been divorced?

Am I too old?

What if we adopt a child who has special needs we can't afford?

Isn't there a lot of "red tape" and paperwork?

What if we apply to become an adoptive family?

What if our adopted child should need information about her past?

What if we need help after our adoption is finalized?

How do I start?

 
Who are the children "waiting" for adoption?

The children who are currently waiting to be adopted often have special needs. The plan to reunify the children with the family is no longer the goal due the family’s inability to provide a safe and nurturing environment.    The children currently needing adoptive homes range in age from infants to 17 years of age,  they are often part of a sibling group needing to be placed together, they are from various ethnic backgrounds, some have special emotional, medical or physical needs and many of them have experienced multiple moves since they have been in care.

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How do I start?

If you are an Oklahoma resident and would like to learn more about becoming a Bridge  Resource  family through OKDHS, you may contact OKDHS Adoption Services by either calling the hotline or complete the on-line inquiry sheet and someone will contact you within 72 hours.


If you live in a state other than Oklahoma, and wish to be considered for an Oklahoma child waiting for adoption please contact Andrea Rue at 580-310-7051.

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How long does it take to adopt a child?

The process is extensive.You have to attend 27 hours of Pre-Service training and have a home study completed along with fingerprint background checks. If you are identified as a Bridge Resource Parent, have a relationship with the child placed in your home and reunification is no longer the goal, the adoption can take less than 6 months once the termination of parental rights have occurred and all legal matters have been resolved.

If you are a Bridge Resource Parent that has a specific preference for the child you would like to adopt, such as age, sex, no siblings, it could take a longer period of time. Your family will have a greater chance of adopting  quicker if you choose a waiting child rather than an infant or the “perfect” child. Your family is recommended along with other families and selected based on your family’s ability to meet the needs of the child waiting for a placement. In these cases your name is submitted with other available families across the state and the child’s worker selects the family they feel will best meet the child's needs.

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How much does it cost?

OKDHS does not charge a fee for families  adopting a child in our OKDHS foster care program. Your family will incur the cost of getting medical exams completed. Everyone in the home will need to have a medical exam. This fee depends on your doctor and is paid by you.

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Do I have to earn a lot of money?

No. In fact, most people who adopt waiting children work in everyday jobs.You must be able to adequately feed, clothe and house a child, just as you would if the child were born to you.

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Do I have to own my own home?

No. You can live in your own home, a rented house, an apartment or a trailer home. You must have a safe home with enough space and a bed for a child.

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What if I already have children?

OKDHS is happy to work with families who already have children. Your parenting experience is valuable, and your other children will provide additional family for the adopted child.

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Do I have to be married?

No. Many single men and women adopt waiting children.

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What if I have been divorced?

Waiting children have been through a lot of  life changing experiences in their short lives. Parents who have had some life changing experiences usually have learned coping skills to help them during those times. Divorce or any other life experience can be a learning experience that makes parents stronger and wiser. Your knowledge and experiences will provide you with valuable skills in helping children transition.

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Am I too old?

There are many variables when it comes to age. Some people are full of life at 60, while others don't seem to have much energy at age 40. Agencies who place waiting children are interested in your ability to raise a child and be involved in their activities and the likelihood you will live long enough to see your children reach adulthood.

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What if we adopt a child who has special needs we can't afford?

Our agency can help with the expenses of special needs children through Adoption Assistance. OKDHS cares about the placement of special needs children and can provide monthly adoption subsidies for sibling groups, older children and those with emotional, learning or medical problems. We can also help with the legal costs of finalizing the adoption in court.

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Isn't there a lot of "red tape" and paperwork?

Yes, there is some, but there is a reason for it. If you were going to be sent to live with a stranger for the rest of your life, wouldn't you want to be sure they were not going to hurt you, starve you or make you do bad things? Agencies who place the children have a responsibility to protect waiting children from abuse. Because of this responsibility, laws have been passed which require certain paperwork, background checks and questions. But OKDHS wants to help you get through all this painlessly, so they will help you fill out the required forms, and will explain everything to you carefully.

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What if we apply to become an adoptive family?

OKDHS has established criteria for choosing adoptive families. We look at what is going to be in the best interest of the child and try to find a family that can meet that child’s needs.  Those needs can vary in regard to educational, medical, or continued contact with birth family and other important connections in the child’s life. Adoptive parents must be willing to assist  and allow the child to develop to his or her full potential, children and adolescents need the love and support of a family for a lifetime, not just during their childhood; and establishing these connections between children and positive influences in their lives creates a support system that will help children realize their dreams.

OKDHS also requires:

  • A family medical evaluation to ensure parents are physically capable of caring for the child;
  • Verification of all marriages and divorces;
  • Family Lifebooks;
  • Positive recommendations from references; and
  • Background checks, which includes FBI fingerprint results, Oklahoma State Bureau Investigation check, and OKDHS child welfare check.

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What if our adopted child should need information about her past?

OKDHS is required by law to maintain records containing medical and social information on all children placed for adoption. The records are also used to document an adopted Native American child’s Indian ancestry. OKDHS will provide the adoptive family with a comprehensive medical and social service history before a child is placed. This packet of information will have information regarding the child’s past documented. If there are matching requests from biological relatives and adult adoptees, OKDHS will assist with the reunion through the Mutual Consent Voluntary Registry. OKDHS also administers a Confidential Intermediary Search Program for adult adoptees and their birth family members.

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What if we need help after our adoption is finalized?

As a result of changing federal and state laws regarding permanency for children in foster care, the number of children placed in adoptive homes by OKDHS has steadily increased. The children being placed for adoption are usually older children, those who are physically or mentally challenged, victims of abuse and neglect or sibling groups. As the challenges adoptive parents face in raising these children increases, so does the need for post adoption support services. Parenting issues do not end with the finalization of the adoption. Adoptive families are more successful when they are provided services that are tailored to their unique issues and needs.

OKDHS recognizes the need adoptive families have for support groups, respite care, easy access to medical and mental health care, therapists who are trained specifically to work with adoptive families, training and retreats. OKDHS is working to assist adoptive families with these Post Adoption Support Services.

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Last Updated:  11/26/2012