Starting the adoption process

Although the foster/adoption process in Stark County doesn’t cost a lot, it can be time-consuming and emotional. On average, it takes from four to 12 months to complete the required steps, including the application, home study and training process. These steps, though sometimes taxing, ensure the safety and best fit for the adopted child.

Steps for fostering or adopting a child in Stark County

1) Learn about the differences between fostering, foster-to-adoption and adoption-only

Foster-only and foster-to-adopt families take children into their homes who are in the temporary or permanent custody of SCJFS. While foster-to-adopt families have the ultimate goal of adoption, foster families hope to reunite the child with their birth parents and adopt-only families apply for permanent custody.

2) Read about the children waiting to be adopted

The children available for fostering and adoption in Stark County are unique. The majority of children are over the age of six, have experienced some level of trauma, neglect or loss, and may be part of a sibling group. Learn more about the children waiting to be adopted.

3) Contact Stark County Job & Family Services to apply

Schedule an appointment with SCJFS to complete an application. During the application process, you will be asked about your household, family background, income and for a description of the child you wish to adopt.

4) Complete your pre-service training

Before your application can be accepted, you must first complete the required training. As part of this training, you may learn about the following topics:

  • Dealing with behavioral, cultural and adoption-related issues
  • How the adoption process works
  • Managing the challenges of child development, separation and loss
  • The expectations for foster and adoptive parents

If you have already received training or can prove you already have the skills necessary to care for the child, you can request for this requirement to be waived.

5) Schedule your home study

Generally ranging from $0 to $3,000, a home study is required to determine the suitability of any foster or adoptive parent in Ohio. When working with SCJFS, this assessment should start within 30 days of the initial application and be completed within 180 days. Home studies may include:

  • Adoption education and preparation
  • Criminal background checks
  • Personal interviews and character references
  • Requests for health records and financial statements

6) Find the right child with the help of your caseworker

Once all requirements have been met, you will work with a SCJFS caseworker to consider children that best fit your family and parenting abilities. The results of your home study will be matched with the needs of a waiting child, and you will have a chance to review the child’s family and medical backgrounds before you make a final decision.

7) Get to know your child

If you choose to proceed with the process, your caseworker will set up a time for you to meet with your child. SCJFS will provide recommendations for what types of activities and interactions are appropriate for this first meeting and help arrange follow-up visits so you can continue to get to know your child.

8) Welcome your child home

The next step is to bring your child home and officially take over caregiving responsibilities. Of course, your caseworker will continue to check in to make sure everyone is adjusting smoothly and to address any questions or concerns you have.

9) Determine next steps

For foster and foster-to-adopt parents, you will continue working with SCJFS to help reunite your child with their birth parents. For adoptive parents, the next step will be petitioning the Stark County Probate Court to finalize the adoption. This can only take place after a child has been in your care for six months.


Helpful links

Adoption Subsidies Guide

Learn about the assistance resources available for adoptive parents in Ohio as well as the eligibility and application criteria for each program.

How to Adopt and Foster in Ohio

Find rules and guidelines for individuals considering fostering or adopting a child in Ohio.

Ohio Adoption Guide

Helping parents through every step of Ohio’s adoption process.