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Adoption assistance makes adoption an option

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services provides an adoption assistance program that helps make adoption more affordable for some families.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editors note: The attached video is from a related story about the Heart Gallery of Central Texas.

According to the Adoption Network Legal Center, private domestic adoption in Texas can cost prospective parents anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 in total expenses but, fortunately, private adoption is not the only option.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) provides an adoption assistance program that helps make adoption more affordable for some families.

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The program provides Medicaid health care coverage, reimbursements for some one-time expenses and monthly payments to assist with the child's needs.

There are two different assistance sources provided by DFPS: Federal assistance from Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and Texas' state adoption assistance.

In order to qualify for assistance, some requirements have to be met.

According to DFPS, Title IV-E assistance has five requirements:

  • The child must qualify as "special needs" when the adoptive agreement is signed.
    • There are four definitions that would qualify a child as "special needs":
      • The child is at least six years old.
      • The child is at least two years old and is a member of a racial or ethnic group that is slower to exit foster care than others.
      • The child is being adopted with a sibling, or to join a sibling.
      • The child has a verifiable physical, mental or emotional disabling condition that has been diagnosed by a qualified professional.
    • The child must also be under 18 years of age.
  • Reasonable efforts must be made to place the child without adoption assistance, except when it isn't in the child's best interest to do so.
  • The child must be placed for adoption by DFPS, or a private, licensed, non-profit child-placing agency and the adopting family must meet all requirements for approval, including a criminal records check.
  • The child must be in an adoptive placement and meet one of four conditions:
    • The child is eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits during the adoptive placement.
    • The child is eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children in the month that the court proceedings began that resulted in the child being removed from the home and in the month the adoption petition is filed.
    • The child was eligible for Title IV-E assistance at the time the child entered care and in the month the adoption petition is filed.
    • The child lives with a minor parent in foster care, and the child's costs are included in the Title IV-E payments being made on behalf of the minor parent.
  • The adoption assistance agreement must be signed before the adoption is consummated.

To qualify for the state adoption assistance, there are six requirements that must be met:

  • The child is not eligible for Title IV-E assistance.
  • The child must qualify as "special needs," which is defined previously.
  • Reasonable efforts must have been made to place the child without adoption assistance, except where it wasn't in the child's best interest to do so.
  • The child must be in an approved adoptive placement with DFPS as the child's managing conservator. The adoptive home must meet the requirements for approval, including criminal record checks.
  • The child's resources must be less than $10,000.
  • The adoption assistance agreement must be signed before the adoption is consummated.

If a child meets either of these sets of requirements, they are automatically qualified for non-recurring expenses reimbursement.

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Some expenses that may qualify for reimbursement include fees paid to child-placing agencies, court costs, attorney fees and other related legal fees.

Monthly payments are determined based on the child's needs. The following needs could warrant assistance:

  • Exceptional initial placement expenses
  • Special maintenance
  • Childcare
  • Educational needs
  • Maintaining family contact
  • Routine maintenance

For additional information, visit DFPS' FAQ page.

WATCH: Austin man becomes single foster father

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