Adoption

Adoption header image

Adoption creates supportive, loving families for children, teens and adults. There are three types of adoption: adoption from foster care; international adoption; and private domestic adoption. Most adoptions in the United States are through the foster care system.

CDHS's goal is to keep children and youth with their birth families. However, there are certain situations in which that is not possible or in the best interest of the child. In those situations, we seek adoptive families for children and teens in foster care. There is always a need for families, especially for sibling groups and teens.

For more information about adoption in Colorado, read through the information below and visit our CO4Kids website.

Types of adoption

Adoption from foster care: The primary goal of foster care is to reunify children/youth with their parents. However, if that option is not available, adoption or another type of permanent home is the secondary goal. There are currently 411children and teens in Colorado who are waiting for a family. Adults who are interested in adopting through the foster care system must first become a foster parent. Adoptive and foster parents must be at least 21 years old or older, pass a background check, complete training and receive a home study. Foster parents must be able to use sound judgment like a prudent parent and demonstrate a responsible, stable and emotionally mature lifestyle.

International adoption: International adoption is the adoption of a child and/or teen from another country other than the United States. There are different types of international adoptions that will determine which type of Visa the child/teen will receive in the finalization of an adoption. Colorado child placement agencies that are licensed to complete private adoptions finalize these adoptions and support the prospective families and children/youth through this process. For more information on an agency that will finalize international adoptions and review the international adoption process, please visit co4kids.org to locate an agency near you.

Example of domestic international adoption - for example in the course of completing a family search and engagement following placement of a child or youth in foster care, the county department of human services locates a family member who is a citizen of another country. If adoption is determined to be the appropriate permanency goal, the county department will consent to complete the international adoption process.

Private domestic adoption: Private domestic adoption is a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights by biological parents placing a child or youth into the custody of a child placement agency that is licensed to complete adoptions. These placements are arranged and managed by child placement agencies and private Colorado adoption attorneys. Colorado is an agency to agency state, which means that no facilitation from private stakeholders is allowed during the private adoption process. Generally, agencies are involved to provide support to the adoptive family prior to and after finalization of private domestic adoptions.

Interested in adopting?

Meet many of the children and youth in Colorado who are waiting for a family on the Colorado Heart Gallery. The Colorado Heart Gallery is both a traveling photography display and website dedicated to finding families for children and teens in foster care who are waiting for a family. It is a collaboration among CDHS, Raise the Future, counties throughout the state and volunteer professional photographers. Get answers to frequently asked questions and meet many of the children and youth waiting to be adopted. Colorado also has partnerships with Raise the Future and Adopt US Kids, two organizations whose websites allow users to make inquiries on specific children/youth.

Start the adoption process in Colorado

Adoption is a lifelong journey, so it is important to collect as much information as possible before beginning. The following information is designed to explain the adoption process in Colorado from start to finish.

1. The adoption journey begins with understanding what types of adoption are available in Colorado and identifying the best fit: CO4Kids.org and raisethefuture.org are good resources for general information. Colorado also has an inquiry form where Coloradans can provide limited contact information and receive follow up with local counties and child placement agencies.
 
2. Attend an information session: The second step in the adoption journey is to attend an information meeting. Information sessions are held state-wide and can answer many adoption questions prospective adoptive parents may have before deciding on a licensing agency. Most adoption and foster care agencies and Colorado counties have information sessions listed on their websites and/or can provide information about when the agency will have an information night over the phone. Information meetings are also listed on the co4kids events pageDuring information meetings, the licensing agency will provide specific information about the types of adoptions they conduct, time frames for adoption, who is involved in the adoption process and an introduction to the child welfare system.
 
3. Attend training: Every prospective adoptive parent must complete core training in addition to other required training, such as CPR and first aid. The county or child placement agency may also require additional training. The training is an important step in preparing parents for their journey towards adoption. In two-parent households, both parents are required to complete training. The licensing agency will provide critical information during the training that is important and beneficial to prospective adoptive parents.
 
4. Home study process: The Colorado home study process is tailored to the type of adoption parents are interested in pursuing. The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) is a structured home study methodology that allows child welfare agencies to effectively and systematically evaluate prospective families for foster and adoptive placement. Prospective parents who are interested in adopting through the foster care system or privately must first become certified. There are few limitations on who can be a foster parent, although everyone must pass a background check, complete training and receive a home study from a county human service department or child placement agency. The foster parent training and certification process prepares parents to care for and support children and teens who have experienced trauma, grief and loss, and with whom they have no history. On average, the home study process takes three to six months to complete. Learn more about the SAFE home study process.
 
5. Matching process: Once they have become certified, families are able to care for a child or youth who has been in foster care. Most children in Colorado in foster care are reunited with their families. If this is not possible, then adoption may become an option. In Colorado, most children or youth in foster care are adopted by their foster parents. The matching process is heavily dependent on the child welfare caseworker making the matches for a child, youth or sibling group. Once the home study process is complete, certified families can make inquiries on children and youth who are waiting to be adopted and should discuss what type of child or youth they would like to adopt with their county or child placement agency. This discussion could include but is not limited to age, disabilities, sibling groups and gender identity.
 
6. Placement and post-placement supervision: Prior to placement, foster parents will be provided additional information about the child, youth or sibling group. This information includes the history of each child or youth such as medical, emotional, disability and all other pertinent information including if parental rights to the children or youth have been terminated. If parental rights are not terminated, then the agency will provide as much information as possible to the prospective family to make a decision to move forward with placement, but the agency may not be able to provide information about the biological family at this point in the case. Ideally, if the placement is determined to be a fit for the family and the child or youth, they will be slowly transitioned into the foster home through scheduled visits and a transition plan that works for all parties involved. This is often a process that takes many months to make sure all necessary supports are in place for both the child or youth and the family. Prior to the finalization of the adoption, a foster parent(s) will have agency caseworkers visit their home to assist with the transition and provide support and assistance to ensure the child or youth is getting their needs met. Caseworkers are required by rule to visit the child or youth monthly in the home to determine safety, permanency and well being. These visits will include the foster parent(s) but the worker also is required to see the child or youth outside the presence of others to determine the child or youth's safety and well being. In Colorado, post-placement supervision is required for a minimum of six months before finalization of the adoption can occur.
 
7. Finalization of adoption: An adoption hearing to finalize the adoption of the child or youth will be set before the court in the jurisdiction where the child welfare agency is located or in the county where the private adoption is being finalized legally. The child or youth will legally become part of their new family at this hearing.
 
8. Post permanency services and support: Post permanency services and support can be provided to continue to support adoptive families after an adoption has been finalized. County departments or child placement agencies provide local resources post-permanency support. Raise the Future also offers a statewide, community-based network of support services for families living in Colorado.
 
Adult adoption

You are never too old to be adopted. Adult adoption is a court process that creates a legal relationship between a person older than 18 who wishes to be adopted and an adult or adults who wish to adopt. When a petition for an adult adoption is granted by a judicial officer, usually a judge, a formal and lasting relationship is formed. An adult adoption also has the additional benefit of allowing the adult adoptee to receive the emotional and psychological benefits from having a legally recognized family.

Compare adoption through foster care with adult adoption

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and they change as children become adults. Adults who have emancipated from foster care or those who do not have supportive family relationships know firsthand that families look different for everyone. They understand that the pain caused by the lack of meaningful family connections can linger well into adulthood. The truth is you never outgrow the need for a family.

However, many young people do enter adulthood with a strong connection to a supportive adult - such as a guardian, relative, teacher, mentor, coach or former foster parent - who has become a parent figure.

Adult adoption is the formalization of an existing parent-like relationship. It establishes a family for a young adult and a permanent, life-long connection. There is no age limit for adoption, and the adult adoption process is significantly different from the process to adopt a minor.

Adult adoptions should be considered when more traditional forms of adoption may be challenging or when a young person is 18 or older. An adult adoption provides the adopted adult with legal status for inheritance and also demonstrates the whole family's commitment to the relationship. Compare adoption through foster care with adult adoption.

Adult adoption's impact on benefits

An adult's benefits should not be affected by an adult adoption because the adopting parents are not obligated to financially support their adult child. If the adoptive parents provide financial support then that support may be considered when the adoptee applies for financial assistance, such as a scholarship, that includes a needs assessments.

Before completing an adult adoption, check with the agencies and/or organizations that provide benefits and ensure that the benefits will not be impacted.

  • Medicaid: Adult adoption does not affect Medicaid eligibility.

  • Chafee Independent Living Program: For young people who were in foster care on or after their 18th birthday, adult adoption does not affect eligibility for Chafee services. Chafee services are available until a young person turns 21.

  • Independent Status for Financial Aid: Adult adoption will not affect a student's eligibility for independent status if they were in foster care at any point after their 13th birthday. Independent Status allows the student's financial aid to be calculated without regard to parental income.

  • Education and Training Vouchers (ETV): Adult adoption will not affect eligibility for ETVs, which must be received prior to turning 21 and can be extended until age 23, if the young adult is continuing to pursue a degree or certificate.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): A young adult receiving adult SSI should not have their benefits affected by adult adoption.

Adult adoption process and costs

Overall, an adult adoption can be a quick process and can often be completed within 90 days. Adult adoption requires the consent of the adult wishing to be adopted as well as the individual, or individuals, wishing to adopt. Once everyone has discussed the level of commitment involved and is in agreement with moving forward, they should review the instructions and forms for adult adoption located at the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Completed forms must be filed with the local court that hears juvenile matters. When the forms have been properly filed with all parties in agreement a judicial officer, usually a judge, will decide whether or not to grant the adoption.

A lawyer is not required but should be consulted if the family encounters any difficulty understanding the process or pursuing adult adoption.

A home study is not necessary to complete the adult adoption process.
The adoption generally does not require an actual hearing, but one can be requested when the paperwork is filed. A hearing may provide a formal symbol to the young adult of the commitment being made. A name change is not required in an adult adoption, but can be requested by the individual being adopted when completing the paperwork.

Adult adoption in Colorado does not affect the rights of biological parents, and they do not need to be notified of an adult adoption proceeding.

Adult adoption costs $167 per adult being adopted as well as $20.75 for each decree of adoption to be certified. If the person filing the paperwork cannot afford the adult adoption costs, he or she can complete paperwork with the court to request the cost to be waived. More information on adult adoption can also be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes at section 14-1-101, C.R.S.

Resources, policies and forms

Adoption assistance in Colorado

Adoption Tax Credit Information

Tax benefits for adoption include both a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child or youth and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it is limited to your tax liability for the year. However, any credit in excess of your tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years. The maximum amount (dollar limit) for 2019 is $14,300 per child/youth. For more information on The Adoption Tax credit please visit the adoption section of the IRS website.

Non-Recurring Adoption Expenses (NRE)

After your adoption is finalized families may be reimbursed up to $1,200 for adoption-related costs. You may request the reimbursement for any allowable out-of-pocket expenses listed below:
 
1. Legal fees
2. Adoption fees
3. Other expenses related to the finalization of the adoption of the child or youth.
 
Families may request NRE up to 12 months after the finalization of the adoption hearing. All requests must be submitted to the Colorado county department the adoption was finalized in.

Adoption Assistance in Colorado

The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 established a program of adoption assistance, strengthened the program of foster care assistance for needy and dependent children, and improved child welfare, social services, and aid to families with dependent children programs. The Act required States to make adoption assistance payments, which take into account the circumstances of the adopting parents and the child, to parents who adopt a child who is AFDC-eligible and is a child with special needs.

The Act defines a child with special needs as a child who:

  • Cannot be returned to the parent's home
  • Has a special condition such that the child cannot be placed without providing assistance
  • Has not been able to be placed without assistance

Adoption assistance is intended to help or remove financial or other barriers to the adoption of Colorado children with special needs by providing assistance to the parent(s) in caring for and raising the child.

Financial support and/or services are provided to the adoptive parent(s) in certain defined and limited ways to meet the needs of an eligible adopted child. At a minimum, if a family receives adoption assistance from a county the adopted child is eligible for Medicaid. The Health First Colorado website contains more information about Medicaid in Colorado.

Colorado operates two adoption assistance programs:

  • Title IV-E program
  • Non-Title IV-E adoption assistance

See CDHS Volume 7 Rule - CCR 7.306.4 for detailed information regarding eligibility. Click HERE to review the Code of Colorado Regulations.

Each county human services department determines the type of adoption assistance and eligibility in accordance with state and federal regulations.

For more information regarding a county\'s specific policy regarding adoption assistance, download county-specific adoption assistance policies below.

Adoption assistance/ adoption subsidy:

To be eligible for adoption assistance/subsidy, a child or youth must have been in the custody of a Colorado Department of Human Services agency or a licensed child-placing agency. Adoption assistance, also known as an adoption subsidy, is a collaborative agreement between the Colorado county and the prospective adoptive family to assist in meeting the needs of a child or youth. This assistance can be financial, medical and other support services that are available to children or youth through an agreement until the child or youth is 18 years old.

Adoption assistance is a program that provides assistance to the adoptive parent(s) in certain defined and limited ways to provide for the needs of an eligible adopted child or youth. Adoption assistance is intended to help or remove financial or other barriers to the adoption of eligible Colorado children or youth by providing assistance to the parent(s) in caring for and raising the child/youth. The county department may make adoption assistance payments and/or provide Medicaid at the time of adoptive placement and continue them after the adoption has been finalized.

If an adoptive parent(s) believe a county department has been unfair or has made a mistake concerning their adoptee's eligibility, they have the right to appeal. This means the parent(s) will be given a hearing by the county department or by the Colorado State Department of Personnel Administration, at which time they will be given an opportunity to present their case for a review by persons not responsible for the original decision to be sure the county action was a proper one.
First, a parent(s) should be sure the county department is fully aware of and understands all the circumstances of the case and that the parent(s) understand the county department\'s reasons for denial before requesting an appeal. Often questions can be settled by discussing the matter with caseworkers or other staff at the county department.

If a parent(s) are still dissatisfied after preliminary talks with a county department, they have two options:

  • Ask for a County Dispute Resolution Conference within 10 days of the county's decision,
  • Appeal directly to the State Department (Office of Administrative Courts).

If a parent(s) chooses to have a County Dispute Resolution Conference and is dissatisfied with that decision, they may appeal to the Office of Administrative Courts (the address is included below).

Letters must include the statement, "I want to appeal" and explain why. If a parent(s) needs help in writing the letter to the State Department for appeal, they can ask anyone to help, talk to a legal-aid office, or ask an employee at the county department to help.

If a parent(s) choose to appeal directly to the state (bypassing the County Dispute Resolution Conference), they must mail or deliver the letter described above no later than 90 calendar days from the date of the county's initial decision. Whether or not a parent(s) asks for the county dispute resolution, if they do not appeal within the 90-day time frame, their appeal time has been exhausted and they are no longer entitled to an appeal. The request must be sent to:

Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration

Office of Administrative Courts

1525 Sherman St., 4th Floor

Denver, Colorado 80203

Phone: 303-866-2000

Fax: 303-866-5909

Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against because of race, color, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, national origin, or handicap, has the right to file a complaint with:

(1) Colorado Department of Human Services

1575 Sherman Street

Denver, CO 80203

(2) Office of Civil Rights

Federal Office Building - Region VIII
1961 Stout Street

Denver, CO 80294-3538

Adoption Records Search

To obtain adoptive records:

The Colorado Department of Human Services can release adoption record information to adoptees or other eligible parties, who are at least 18 years of age. Colorado Revised Statute §19-5-305 details how adoption records may be accessed by adoptees and other eligible parties. Please contact CDHS at CDHS_COAdoptionRecords@state.co.us to request an adoption record. 

 or


The Adoption Confidential Intermediary Program is a service that you can obtain which are trained confidential intermediaries who conduct intensive adoption record search of adoptive parents, birth parents and siblings. 

The Colorado Voluntary Adoption Registry, located at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will release information if both parties register. The adoptee must be 18 years of age. Siblings can now register. The purpose of the voluntary registry is to facilitate contact between adult adoptees (who were born in Colorado), siblings/half-siblings, and their birth parent(s). We will also facilitate voluntary contact between a former foster child who may or may not have been adopted, who is 18 or older, and who is searching for a birth sibling who is 18 or older, who may or may not have been adopted and who may or may not have been in the foster care system. Relatives of deceased adoptees and relatives of deceased birth parents also can register. Relatives include spouse, birth parent, adoptive parent, sibling, or a child who is 21 years or older. How to apply: All parties must submit a notarized Colorado Voluntary Adoption Registry Application, photocopy of a valid ID, non-refundable processing fee and proof of relationship.

To obtain the adoptee’s original Birth Certificate only please contact Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 
Colorado State Archives can also be contacted to request records at 303-866-2358, or by using this form.

Colorado Confidential Intermediary Service

Colorado Confidential Intermediaries

Brenda H. Retrum
Colorado Confidential Intermediary
Office:  303-332-5641

Candice Rizzuto
Colorado Confidential Intermediary
NOCO Confidential Intermediary LLC
COIRS Colorado Investigative Resource Services
CELL: 303-503-0813
OFFICE/FAX: 970-686-5668
www.coirs.net

Resources

CUB (Concerned United Birthparents)
A national nonprofit support group not limited to birth parents but all members of the adoption circle.

Colorado Voluntary Adoption Registry
Facilitates voluntary contact between adoptees 18 and older who were born in Colorado and their birth parents.

ALMA (Adoptees Liberation Movement Association)
Computerized matching service of adoptees with birth parents who are registered.

International Soundex Reunion Registry
Computerized matching service of adoptees with birth parents or siblings who are registered. Must be at least 18 years old to register.

Forms

Forms related to adoption frequently used in Colorado.

Adoption in Colorado contacts, complaints and questions

For additional Information regarding adoption in Colorado please contact:

Michelle V. López, M.S.W. (michelle.lopez2@state.co.us or 303.866.3209)
Adoption Program and Colorado ICAMA Administrator

Toilynn Edwards (Toilynn.edwards@state.co.us or 303.866.4306)
Placement Resources Administrator

If you have a question, concern or complaint, contact us here.