Moving by itself is stressful. Moving during the adoption process? It can seem impossible.
The good news is that it’s not — as long as you take the time to prepare.
The first step? Let your adoption professional know that you plan to move as soon as possible. They can explain exactly what next steps are necessary to remain eligible to adopt in your situation.
While every adoption is different, here are a few changes you might expect as your journey moves forward:
1. You’ll need an updated home study.
First and foremost, moving homes will always require an updated home study. Even if you don’t move states or even neighborhoods, a new house must be evaluated and approved by your home study professional.
How detailed this update is depends on your home study professional. Make them your first point of contact when you plan your move. They can tell you what steps need to be taken to keep your family eligible and approved for adoption opportunities.
If you’re moving states, you may need a brand-new home study provider. You can search for one on 1-800-homestudy.com. Please note: There may a period of ineligibility between when your former home study expires and when your new one is approved. Keep your placement agency informed on these timelines.
2. Your adoptive family profiles may need to change.
Your home and community are important parts of your life. If you move, you’ll likely need to update your adoptive family profile to reflect the new environment your child will grow up in.
It could be something as simple as swapping out photos of your old house with your new. Or, if your agency requires a video profile, you may need to shoot some additional footage to accurately represent your new home and community.
Remember: Prospective birth mothers choose families for many reasons, and where they live can be an important one. Your profile should help a woman imagine her child’s life with your family — and images of your home will be extremely helpful.
3. Different state laws may apply.
Every state has different adoption laws. When you move across state borders, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the legalities where you now live.
In most cases, your adoption attorney will be your best source of information. But, if you move, you will likely need to find a new attorney for your new state of residence. Talk with your placement agency for trusted references, or search the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorney’s database.
4. Your open adoption relationship may look different.
Many children — whether adopted through foster care or as an infant — have connections to the state in which they were born. You may have started an open adoption relationship with family and friends in that state before the adoption was finalized, or your child’s birth mother may have chosen you specifically because of where you live.
When you move, those relationships will change. If you have plans to move soon after finalization, you should always be honest with your caseworker or a prospective birth mother, so they can make the placement decision that’s best for the child.
If you move after placement, be open to changes in your post-placement relationship. If you are moving farther away, offer to make up for lost in-person contact with video calls, texts and emails. Be respectful of how much open adoption contact means to your child’s birth family and recognize how your move may affect the connections you’ve already built.
5. If your child has Medicaid, available services may change.
Whether you are currently fostering a child or have adopted a child through foster care, they may have access to Medicaid. If you move states during or after the adoption, their Medicaid program must be transferred to the new state of residence.
Every state’s Medicaid program is different. Services that may be offered in your previous state of residence may not be covered in your new state (and vice versa). You’ll need to work with your caseworker to ensure your foster or adopted child has the coverage they need. Be proactive about this step to prevent any lapses in coverage for your child.
6. Monthly maintenance payments may change.
If you are adopting a child through foster care, moving them to a different state will not end the monthly maintenance payments you receive. However, the monthly amount may change, based on your new state laws.
Your monthly maintenance rate can be negotiated with your new state based on your child’s needs and your previous rates of payment. Reach out to your caseworker for more information about this process.
7. Your adoption opportunities may shrink.
Whether you plan to adopt through foster care or through a private agency, your list of adoption opportunities may get smaller if you move.
When you become a foster parent, the children placed in your home will have ties to your previous state of residence. Moving to a different state before or after their adoption could make those connections to family, friends and community harder to maintain. If you have plans to move after placement, your caseworker may advise against any placement of children who have siblings in their biological parents’ custody.
Similarly, if you plan to adopt through a private agency, a different state may limit which opportunities can be presented to you. For example, certain state laws require waiting adoptive families to only be presented in states where their agency is licensed. If you move to a state with those laws, your national opportunities may shrink to just a few states.
Bottom line: Talk to your adoption professional to understand exactly what moving will do to your waiting family’s exposure.