Children of the System: What you need to know about adoption in Alabama

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There are approximately 6,400 children who are in custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Not all of those children will have a plan for adoption. In fact, says roughly 300 of those kids are under a plan for adoption where a family has not yet been identified.

The state allows adoptions through DHR as well as private adoption agencies. DHR’s Introduction to Adoption website confirms the need for loving and caring adoptive families for hundreds of children.

Join us Thursday on WHNT News 19 at 10:00 for Alone. We’ll take a look the state’s adoption system and the children currently in foster care.

The state point out that the children come from a varied of backgrounds with varying needs.  Many of them may be considered by the state as children with special needs. The state clearly defines what is meant by the team “special needs:”

  • Any child age five or older.
  • Children with a background of parental substance abuse, mental illness or mental retardation that places them at risk.
  • Children with various degrees of mental, physical or emotional problems.
  • A sibling group of two or more placed at the same time with the same family


The state’s website says “Your willingness and commitment to being a parent, as well as your ability to love and rear a child who needs you are always the main requirements to successfully adopt a child.”

However, there are specific requirements that must be met:

  • You must be over 19 years of age.
  • If married, marriage must be of at least 3 years duration.
  • If a married couple, one must be a U.S. citizen
  • You must have adequate housing & personal space for the child or children adopted.
  • You must be healthy enough to meet a child’s needs.
  • You must be willing to undergo a thorough background check, including criminal history.

The state then goes through a preparation and selection process and conducts pre-placement visits.The adoption isn’t official until the legal process is complete in you County’s Probate Court.

How long does it take?

DHR’s website points out that the time between approval and placement can vary significantly, depending on the child/children who are available and the characteristics of the child/children you are willing to consider. It says you will receive a copy of the Waiting Children Newsletter, which features some of the children in need of adoptive parents.

Cost of Adoption

According to, domestic adoptions costs an average of $30,000. But that cost varies widely between an adoption agency cost of roughly $43,000, to hiring an independent adoption attorney at an average of $38,000.

That same website, though, points out that adoptions made through the foster care system are “virtually free.” It says very few families pay more than $2,000, but many pay nothing at all. It’s also important to note that in most cases, the state offers monthly stipends to families who are fostering children.

The Alabama DHR website says this of cost: “When adopting from the Department of Human Resources, the Department charges no fees for the adoption home study (which includes 30 hours of training) nor for the placement of children. Expenses are generally limited to the costs of criminal history record checks and obtaining medicals on all household family members.”

Request an application or more information:

Call Alabama Department of Human Resources at 1-866-4AL-KIDS or complete an ONLINE INQUIRY FORM

Online Resources:

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