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Adoption creates supportive, loving families for children, teens and adults. There are three types of adoption: adoption from foster care, international adoption and private domestic adoption. Most adoptions in the United States are through the foster care system.
The Colorado Department of Human Services’ goal is to keep children and youth with their birth families. However, there are certain situations in which that is not possible or in the best interest of the child. In those situations, we seek adoptive families for children and teens in foster care. There is always a need for families, especially for sibling groups and teens.
Adoption from foster care: The primary goal of foster care is to reunify children/youth with their parents. However, if that option is not available, adoption or another type of permanent home is the secondary goal. There are currently 411 children and teens in Colorado who are waiting for a family. Adults who are interested in adopting through the foster care system must first become a foster parent. Adoptive and foster parents must be at least 21 years old or older, pass a background check, complete training and receive a home study. Foster parents must be able to use sound judgment like a prudent parent and demonstrate a responsible, stable and emotionally mature lifestyle.
International adoption: International adoption is the adoption of a child and/or teen from another country other than the United States. There are different types of international adoptions that will determine which type of Visa the child/teen will receive in the finalization of an adoption. Colorado child placement agencies that are licensed to complete private adoptions finalize these adoptions and support the prospective families and children/youth through this process. For more information on an agency that will finalize international adoptions and review the international adoption process, please visit co4kids.org to locate an agency near you.
Example of domestic international adoption – for example in the course of completing a family search and engagement following placement of a child or youth in foster care, the county department of human services locates a family member who is a citizen of another country. If adoption is determined to be the appropriate permanency goal, the county department will consent to complete the international adoption process.
Private domestic adoption: Private domestic adoption is a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights by biological parents placing a child or youth into the custody of a child placement agency that is licensed to complete adoptions. These placements are arranged and managed by child placement agencies and private Colorado adoption attorneys. Colorado is an agency to agency state, which means that no facilitation from private stakeholders is allowed during the private adoption process. Generally, agencies are involved to provide support to the adoptive family prior to and after finalization of private domestic adoptions.
Meet many of the children and youth in Colorado who are waiting for a family on the Colorado Heart Gallery. The Colorado Heart Gallery is both a traveling photography display and website dedicated to finding families for children and teens in foster care who are waiting for a family. It is a collaboration among CDHS, the Adoption Exchange, counties throughout the state and volunteer professional photographers. Get answers to frequently asked questions and meet many of the children and teens waiting to be adopted. Colorado also has partnerships with The Adoption Exchange and Adopt US Kids, two organizations whose websites allow users to make inquiries on specific children/youth.
Adoption is a lifelong journey, so it is important to collect as much information as possible before beginning. The following information is designed to explain the adoption process in Colorado from start to finish.
Adult adoption is a court process that creates a legal relationship between a person older than 18 who wishes to be adopted and an adult or adults who wish to adopt. When a petition for an adult adoption is granted by a judicial officer, usually a judge, a formal and lasting relationship is formed. An adult adoption also has the additional benefit of allowing the adult adoptee to receive the emotional and psychological benefits from having a legally recognized family.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and they change as children become adults. Adults who have emancipated from foster care or those who do not have supportive family relationships know firsthand that families look different for everyone. They understand that the pain caused by the lack of meaningful family connections can linger well into adulthood. The truth is you never outgrow the need for a family.
However, many young people do enter adulthood with a strong connection to a supportive adult — such as a guardian, relative, teacher, mentor, coach or former foster parent — who has become a parent figure.
Adult adoption is the formalization of an existing parent-like relationship. It establishes a family for a young adult and a permanent, life-long connection. There is no age limit for adoption, and the adult adoption process is significantly different from the process to adopt a minor.
Adult adoptions should be considered when more traditional forms of adoption may be challenging or when a young person is 18 or older. An adult adoption provides the adopted adult with legal status for inheritance and also demonstrates the whole family’s commitment to the relationship. Compare adoption through foster care with adult adoption.
An adult’s benefits should not be affected by an adult adoption because the adopting parents are not obligated to financially support their adult child. If the adoptive parents provide financial support then that support may be considered when the adoptee applies for financial assistance, such as a scholarship, that includes a needs assessments.
Before completing an adult adoption, check with the agencies and/or organizations that provide benefits and ensure that the benefits will not be impacted.
Medicaid: Adult adoption does not affect Medicaid eligibility.
Chafee Independent Living Program: For young people who were in foster care on or after their 18th birthday, adult adoption does not affect eligibility for Chafee services. Chafee services are available until a young person turns 21.
Independent Status for Financial Aid: Adult adoption will not affect a student’s eligibility for independent status if they were in foster care at any point after their 13th birthday. Independent Status allows the student’s financial aid to be calculated without regard to parental income.
Education and Training Vouchers (ETV): Adult adoption will not affect eligibility for ETVs, which must be received prior to turning 21 and can be extended until age 23, if the young adult is continuing to pursue a degree or certificate.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): A young adult receiving adult SSI should not have their benefits affected by adult adoption.
Overall, an adult adoption can be a quick process and can often be completed within 90 days. Adult adoption requires the consent of the adult wishing to be adopted as well as the individual, or individuals, wishing to adopt. Once everyone has discussed the level of commitment involved and is in agreement with moving forward, they should review the instructions and forms for adult adoption located at the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Completed forms must be filed with the local court that hears juvenile matters. When the forms have been properly filed with all parties in agreement a judicial officer, usually a judge, will decide whether or not to grant the adoption.
A lawyer is not required but should be consulted if the family encounters any difficulty understanding the process or pursuing adult adoption.
A home study is not necessary to complete the adult adoption process.
The adoption generally does not require an actual hearing, but one can be requested when the paperwork is filed. A hearing may provide a formal symbol to the young adult of the commitment being made. A name change is not required in an adult adoption, but can be requested by the individual being adopted when completing the paperwork.
Adult adoption in Colorado does not affect the rights of biological parents, and they do not need to be notified of an adult adoption proceeding.
Adult adoption costs $167 per adult being adopted as well as $20.75 for each decree of adoption to be certified. If the person filing the paperwork cannot afford the adult adoption costs, he or she can complete paperwork with the court to request the cost to be waived. More information on adult adoption can also be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes at section 14-1-101, C.R.S.
Adoption Tax Credit Information
Tax benefits for adoption include both a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child or youth and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it is limited to your tax liability for the year. However, any credit in excess of your tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years. The maximum amount (dollar limit) for 2019 is $14,080 per child/youth. For more information on The Adoption Tax credit please visit the adoption section of the IRS website.
Non-Recurring Adoption Expenses (NRE)
Adoption Assistance in Colorado
The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 established a program of adoption assistance, strengthened the program of foster care assistance for needy and dependent children, and improved child welfare, social services, and aid to families with dependent children programs. The Act required States to make adoption assistance payments, which take into account the circumstances of the adopting parents and the child, to parents who adopt a child who is AFDC-eligible and is a child with special needs.
The Act defines a child with special needs as a child who:
Adoption assistance is intended to help or remove financial or other barriers to the adoption of Colorado children with special needs by providing assistance to the parent(s) in caring for and raising the child.
Financial support and/or services are provided to the adoptive parent(s) in certain defined and limited ways to meet the needs of an eligible adopted child. At a minimum, if a family receives adoption assistance from a county the adopted child is eligible for Medicaid. The Colorado Medicaid Guidebook contains more information about Medicaid in Colorado.
Colorado operates two adoption assistance programs:
See CDHS Volume 7 Rule - CCR 7.306.4 for detailed information regarding eligibility. Click HERE to review the Code of Colorado Regulations.
Each county human services department determines the type of adoption assistance and eligibility in accordance with state and federal regulations.
For more information regarding a county's specific policy regarding adoption assistance, download county-specific adoption assistance policies below.
Appeal directly to the State Department (Office of Administrative Courts).
If a parent(s) chooses to have a County Dispute Resolution Conference and is dissatisfied with that decision, they may appeal to the Office of Administrative Courts (the address is included below).
Letters must include the statement, "I want to appeal" and explain why. If a parent(s) needs help in writing the letter to the State Department for appeal, they can ask anyone to help, talk to a legal-aid office, or ask an employee at the county department to help.
If a parent(s) choose to appeal directly to the state (bypassing the County Dispute Resolution Conference), they must mail or deliver the letter described above no later than 90 calendar days from the date of the county’s initial decision. Whether or not a parent(s) asks for the county dispute resolution, if they do not appeal within the 90-day time frame, their appeal time has been exhausted and they are no longer entitled to an appeal. The request must be sent to:
Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration
Office of Administrative Courts
1525 Sherman St., 4th Floor
Denver, Colorado 80203
Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against because of race, color, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, national origin, or handicap, has the right to file a complaint with:
(1) Colorado Department of Human Services (2) Office of Civil Rights
1575 Sherman Street Federal Office Building – Region VIII
Denver, CO 80203 1961 Stout Street
Denver, CO 80294-3538
There are three ways that an adoptee or birth parent can access identifying information on the other party:
How to apply: All parties must submit a notarized Colorado Voluntary Adoption Registry Application, photocopy of a valid ID, non-refundable processing fee and proof of relationship.
Forms related to adoption frequently used in Colorado.
For additional Information regarding adoption in Colorado please contact:
Michelle V. López, M.S.W. firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-866-3209)Adoption Program & Colorado ICAMA Administrator
Toilynn Edwards (Toilynn.email@example.com or 303-866-4306)Placement Resources Administrator
Korey Elger M.S.W. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-866-5956)Ongoing Manager
If you have a question, concern or complaint, do not hesitate to contact us HERE.