The Adoption Matching Process

Selection of a Family for a Child

DCFS actively seeks to identify and select agency approved adoptive families who can meet the best interests and special needs of children who are in the permanent custody of the agency. Children being placed for adoption by DCFS must be placed only with prospective families who have an approved adoptive home study and shall comply with the rules of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) if placed outside the State of Ohio.

Applicants with a total of five or more children residing in the home, including foster children and children in kinship care, or if the family will have a total of five or more children who will reside in the home upon the adoptive placement of a child, must have the assessor complete the JFS 1530 “Multiple Children/Large Family Assessment”.

The first step in the matching and selection process is the identification of the child’s best interests and special needs. This is done by assessing the current and future needs of the child as outlined in the Child Study Inventory, the child’s case plan, medical history, education summaries, psychological/therapy reports, case notes and other appropriate documentation. In addition, the child’s desires are considered on an age appropriate basis.

*Criteria for matching adoptive parents to available children, include, but are not limited to: length of time between placements, consideration of placing siblings together and preferences to placing with relatives and foster caregivers.

Prospective families for the child are then identified based on their ability to meet the child’s best interests and special needs on a lifelong basis. There are individuals who may be considered as potential adoptive parents for the child:
  • Adult relatives of the child, who have expressed an interest, are given priority consideration provided that the relative caregiver meets all ODHS child protection and adoption home study standards.
  • Foster parents are also given priority consideration when relatives are unable to meet the child’s best interests or special needs or are unavailable to adopt the child. The foster parents and their licensing agency are notified when permanent custody is being sought. At that time, foster parents are given the opportunity to express their interest in being considered as a candidate to adopt the child. Foster parents must notify the agency in writing regarding their decision. In addition, the time the child has spent with the foster parent will count towards the required service period prior to finalization.
  • Adoptive families who have been approved by CCDCFS or another Ohio agency or out of state agency.

However, when the waiting child is of Native American heritage, priority for adoptive placement is given to the child’s tribe or another Native American family. CCDCFS complies with all aspects of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) regarding decision-making for and placement of Native-American Children.

Matching Conference Process:

A matching conference (a structured decision making process to select the most appropriate family to be matched with the child) is scheduled to discuss and determine which of the identified adoptive families can best meet the child’s best interests and special needs. The matching conference is conducted by a facilitator and those participating in the staffing are the child’s social worker, child’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL), each of the prospective families’ Adoption Assessor, and supervisors. Other individuals such as teachers, therapists, foster parents, etc. may attend as needed. If an adoptive family approved by another agency is being considered, a representative of that agency must attend.

All families accepting of the child’s characteristics must be considered by the agency to be presented in the matching conference. Identifying and selecting a family to adopt is based on the best interests and special needs of the child. The agency maintains compliance with Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, and in compliance with Multiethnic Placement Act 1994. The agency has the availability of a state hearing when an adoptive family believes that an adoptive placement was denied or will be denied solely for the reasons of geographic location.

Prospective adoptive parents (approved by CCDCFS, any Ohio agency or out of state agency) may make inquiry regarding the adoption of any child in the permanent custody of CCDCFS, any Ohio agency or any out of state agency.

Prospective adoptive families are encouraged to maintain contact with the agency by:
  • Participating in agency adoption fairs and recruitment activities
  • Attending ongoing training and/or cluster meetings
  • Calling or visiting with their Adoption Assessor
  • Checking Internet sites which feature waiting children such as AdoptUsKids.
  • Contacting the Recruitment Department
  • Reviewing the FEATURES book, which lists county specific children available for adoption.

Formal Adoption Presentation

When an approved adoptive family has been selected for a child, the family is contacted and given information about the child. If the family indicates that they would consider adoptive placement of the child, the prospective parents are asked to attend a formal presentation. The formal presentation is a meeting attended by the child’s social worker and supervisor, the prospective adoptive family and their Adoption Assessor and other individuals who may assist in presenting information about the child such as the child’s foster parents, therapists, teachers and Guardian Ad Litem. Prospective parents are encouraged to take notes and ask questions during the presentation. The following materials are reviewed and discussed. Copies of these materials are provided to the prospective parents:
  • Child Study Inventory (CSI)
  • ICCA (Individual Child Care Agreement)
  • Medical history summary
  • Placement summary
  • Summary of psychological and therapy reports
  • Summary of school reports
  • Eligibility for adoption subsidies
  • Adoption Disclosure Form

The adoptive family must be shown the child’s Lifebook and pictures. It is not necessary for the prospective parents to make a final decision at the meeting. The family is encouraged to take time to discuss the child(ren) and the potential impact of adoption on the family. The family informs the agency within three days of their decision to proceed with the adoption. Should the prospective parent(s) feel that s/he is not appropriate candidate(s) to adopt the child; s/he may decline and be reconsidered for a different child in the future.