Happy family with their adopted child

Inside the Adoptions Process: Understanding Straight Adoptions

Do you remember the last time you walked down the grocery aisle looking for pasta sauce, only to be paralyzed by the myriad of choices before you?

Or when you walked down the cereal aisle and could not decide which of the countless cheerio options you preferred?

Don’t worry, you are not the only one who has had this experience. In fact, studies show that there is such a thing as “choice overload”.

This happens in foster care also. Many people would like to care for a child but they’re not sure where to begin.  Oftentimes it’s difficult to even decide whether to foster or adopt. Of the two options, adoption carries the most myths and mysteries. This article breaks it down for you.

First, Foster care versus Adoptions

Foster care, by definition, is temporary and short term. Meaning that foster parents have the child for a limited time. Even if a child stays in a home from adolescence through late teens, it was still temporary.

The goal of the child welfare system is to promote family reunification, which means the child could be going back to his or her birth parents. However, that is not always possible.


That’s where adoptions come in. Adoption is the legal process of establishing a legal parent-child relationship when the adopting parent is not the child’s biological or birth parent. Adoption means taking a child into your home as a permanent family member.

Unlike foster care, adoption is long term and intended to be permanent. In adoptions you are publicly and legally stating that the child is yours. There are no expiration dates on adoptions. 

Types of Adoptions

Aspiring Adoptive Parents struggle figuring out what to do or how the process works. In California, there are at least four (4) types of Adoptions

  1. Stepparent/Domestic partner adoption: In this case, the spouse or domestic partner of the child’s parent adopts that child. The couple must be legally married or registered as domestic partners.
  2. Independent Adoptions:  It is not necessary to have an adoption agency or the Department of Social Services involved in the process. The parental rights of the existing parents may or may not have to be terminated, depending on the agreement between parents.
  3. International adoption: The child to be adopted was born in another country.
  4. Agency adoption: In this case, the adoption is facilitated by the California Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency.

In this article we will concentrate on discussing Agency Adoptions, specifically “Straight Adoptions”.

Requirements to Adopt

In California, anyone who completes approval as a Resource Family, is able to consider either foster care or adoptions. It used to be the case that foster care had its own requirements and adoptions had a separate list of requirements. But that is no longer the case. The Resource Family Approval (RFA) process serves both foster parents and adoption parents considering “Agency Adoptions”.

Within “Agency Adoptions” there are at least two common paths to agency adoptions:

1. Straight adoption

  1. Foster to Adopt, also known as fost-adopt (or some people say fos-adopt).

    Option 1: You really are not going to hear the term “straight adoption” much. This is a layperson term. It could easily be called “direct adoption”. But the basic idea is that the prospective adoptive parent completes the Resource Family Approval (RFA) process and then waits to be matched with a child who is eligible for adoptions. Only a child already identified as available for adoptions will be placed in your home.

    Truth be told, this process may be frustrating and requires a lot of patience. Usually, families who opt for straight adoption, have a specific image of the child they would like to adopt. And, may have their minds set on a newborn or an infant.

    Be prepared for a potentially long wait. There are hundreds if not thousands of families who are also hoping to find a newborn or an infant. Although one should never give up hope, this type of matching may take a long while.

Families who opt for this route often say that they do not want to become attached to a child only to find out later that the child will be removed from their home to be placed with a relative. However, this may mean that they will be waiting before they are “matched”. This could be 6 months or two years, so if you do not mind the wait, this could be an option for you. Although there are ways to manage the concern regarding developing personal attachment, at Knotts Family Agency we respect parents who prefer the “Straight Adoption” program. 

In another article (click here), we will discuss the second option within Agency Adoptions: Foster-to-Adopt.


What are your thoughts about “Straight Adoption”?

How would you handle the waiting period between finalizing your Resource Family Approval process and the wait to be matched with a child?

Please leave us your comment or contact the agency for additional information.

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