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Cook County Department of Family and Children Services

Family walking along the shore at sunset

Georgia Department of Human Resources

Adoption is a social and legal process that creates a new family, giving adopted children the same rights and benefits as those who are born into the family.


Some childrens parents voluntarily give up their parental rights. Most children, though, have been removed from their birth homes by the courts and have had their parents rights terminated due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Almost all of the children come from difficult situations and have been cared for in foster homes before adoption. They are generally children with special needs.

The children waiting to be adopted are:

African American children over the age of 1
Three or more brothers and sisters who need to be placed together
Children ages 8 and older
Children with physical, emotional or mental disabilities.
Children who are not readily available for adoption include:

African American infants under the age of 1 with no physical, mental or emotional disabilities.
White or other minority children under the age of 8 with no physical, mental or emotional disabilities

Who handles adoptions?
Adoption of children in state custody is handled by the DHR Office of Adoptions and county Departments of Family and Children Services (DFCS). They may also be handled through a licensed private adoption agency.


Married couples must be at least 10 years older than the child they wish to adopt. Single parents must be 25-years-old or older and at least 10 years older than the child they wish to adopt. A family needs to earn only enough money to cover its own living expenses.


All prospective adoptive parents will need to have a family assessment completed by DFCS or a licensed private adoption agency. Through DFCS the family will attend a 10-week adoption preparation program called "Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting" (MAPP). MAPP consists of 30 hours of group participation and in-home visits with a caseworker. Medical examinations of family members, verifications of marriage or divorce, verifications of income, fingerprinting and criminal background checks are required.

If there are any problems after the adoption becomes final, parents can contact their DFCS caseworker to talk about assistance. In a crisis, the worker can help the family find resources such as counseling, respite care or financial assistance.


The wait for a child with special needs can be as short as 6 to 10 months. Parents can reduce their waiting time by choosing a child or children in the "My Turn Now" book, which publishes photographs of children waiting to be adopted. There is a long waiting list for white children under the age of 8 with no special needs. The wait could be as long as eight to 10 years.

The child must live in the home for some time before legal proceedings can be finalized. A Caseworker is there to help the family. The adoption usually becomes final about six to nine months after placement.

Illustration: Go fly a kite


The Office of Adoptions or a licensed private agency under contract with the state will not charge a family for adoption services. As part of the home study process, prospective parents and others living in the home must get medical examinations, and they must also pay court costs to complete adoption. But families adopting older children, siblings needing to be placed together or children with other special needs can be reimbursed for most of these expenses.
Some assistance is available to help meet the expenses of caring for children with special needs. More money may be available to help pay for medical or psychological services. Many of the children with special needs will still be eligible for Medicaid after adoption.

To find out more about adoptions, please call Leif E. Purvis at (229) 896-4889.