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Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption
1. Who can adopt in Alaska?
Alaskan adults over age 18 can adopt, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. Second parent adoptions have been allowed in the state but are not addressed by statute. Parents must be 21 to be foster licensed in Alaska. Other states and countries may have different age restrictions for making child placements.
2. Can a military service member adopt while stationed in Alaska?
Yes, members of the military can adopt. However, parents should consider how transfers will impact timelines for placement and adoption finalization.
3. What are the different types of adoptions?
There are four primary types of non-relative adoptions; private adoption, adoption through state child welfare agencies or foster care, international adoption and tribal adoptions.
4. What is Open Adoption?
An “open adoption” describes an adoption in which adoptive parents and the child’s birth family agree to some degree of information sharing and/or contact. The degree of “openness” is very case specific and varies greatly from exchange of annual photos to extended visits in person. Open adoption is usually preferred over closed adoptions and is considered to be influential in helping children develop a healthy self-identify and understand their personal history.
5. Are babies and young children available for adoption through foster care?
There are about 2000 Alaskan children in state out-of-home /foster placement at any time. Most of these children will be reunited with their birth family but many will need adoptive homes. Approximately 25% of children in out-of-home care are age 3 and under. More than half of Alaska’s children in out-of-home care reside in the Anchorage and South Central regions of the state.
6. What children are considered to have “special needs”?
In Alaska, the legal definition of special needs is "physical or mental disability, emotional disturbance, recognized high risk of physical or mental disease, membership in a sibling group, racial or ethnic factors, or any combination thereof."
7. Can I adopt a child of another race?
Yes. By law, state agencies cannot bias placements by race. However, private and international adoption agencies can have preferential placement policies with multiple selection criteria such as race, religion, marital status and age.
8. Can I adopt an Alaskan Native child?
Alaskan Native children can be adopted through tribal adoption, through foster to adopt and privately. For children and youth in the child protection system, the federal Indian Child Welfare Act affects placement of children who qualify as tribal members and provides tribes legal status to be involved in adoptive placements and decisions. Adoptions involving Alaskan Native children can be complicated as there are over 200 recognized tribal entities in Alaska. Tribes must approve adoptions of Alaska Native children by non-Native families. Parents should seek tribe specific information early in the process.
9. What is Tribal Adoption?
Tribal adoptions occur outside of the Alaska court system through tribal councils and governments. Tribal adoptions are recognized by the State of Alaska. Unlike state court adoptions, parental rights may not be fully terminated in tribal adoptions.
9. Can I adopt if I am gay, lesbian, or bisexual?
Yes. Alaska does not have laws or formal policies prohibiting individuals’ eligibility to adopt or serve as foster parents based on sexual orientation.
10. Can I adopt if I am single?
11. Can Alaskans adopt a child from another state?
Yes. Alaskans can adopt from other states through private adoptions and through state child welfare systems that often have waiting children. States commonly require adopting families to be licensed foster parents and/or to have a completed adoption home study, but these requirements vary by state and should be investigated early in your adoption process. Placement of any non-relative child across state lines requires completion of paperwork to satisfy the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC). This paperwork occurs between sending and receiving state child welfare agencies and ensures placements are monitored for the safety of the child and continuation of any services the child may be receiving if they were in out-of-home care. The ICPC process can several months depending upon the coordinating states, but is usually accomplished in 30- 90 days for children coming to Alaska.
12. How long does adoption take?
Adoption timelines vary depending upon type of adoption. Adoptions from foster care often take one to two years. Adoption of waiting children is often accomplished in six months or less, once parents have a positive home study and a child identified. Private adoptions can take two to four years for infant adoptions, less for older children. The internet is a good source for searching updated regulations and timelines for international adoptions prior to contracting with
13. What is a home study?
A home study is a comprehensive assessment of an adoptive home and is required for most adoptions. A home study describes the current family constellation, and assesses the family’s capacity to successfully support and integrate an adopted child or children. A home study can be child specific or completed prior to a child being identified.
14. How do I get a home study?
The Alaska Office of Children’s Services provides free adoption home studies for children adopted from Alaska foster care. Parents can purchase the home study assessment required for international, private and out-of-state adoptions by hiring an adoption agency or independent home study writer who is approved by the Office of Children’s Services. A current listing of approve home study writers can be secured from the Alaska Center for Resource Families.
15. Do you have to earn a certain income or own your own home?
There are no income requirements to adopt from the Alaska foster care system. Families must demonstrate capacity to support their growing household and do not need to own their home. Private and international adoptions are often facilitated through adoption agencies, which may have income requirements.
16. How much does an adoption cost?
Adoption through foster care is free and can be subsidized. Private adoptions and international adoptions vary in cost but generally range from $10,000 to over $40,000.
Is financial assistance available for adoptions? State child welfare agencies often provide adoption assistance for home studies and legal proceedings, and parents adopting children with special needs may be provided with ongoing monthly subsidies. A federal income tax credit allows qualifying parents to receive reimbursement for many adoption related expenses after adoption finalization.
Parents should investigate state specific rules regarding adoption assistance, and the most recent tax credit regulations before proceeding in an adoption. The military and many businesses and organizations offer adoption assistance to their employees.
17. Can I adopt if I have a criminal record?
A criminal background check is required for all household members age 16 and over. The State of Alaska has established barrier crime guidelines that prevent adults with certain criminal histories from becoming foster or adoptive parents. However, minor or historic offenses may be allowed depending on the circumstance and proof of rehabilitation. Parents can contact the Alaska Office of Children’s Services or their home study writer to inquire about their specific criminal history.
18. Where do I start my adoption journey?
The Alaska Center for Resource Families is a non-profit agency providing free support, information and training to assist families considering and pursuing adoption. Contact your local office or check out the booklet Paths to Adoption in Alaska.