Thinking about adoption but not sure if you can afford all of the related expenses? The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has an adoption assistance program to help defray some of the costs associated with adoption of a child with special needs.

Program Benefits

  • Medicaid health care coverage for the adopted child. This benefit assists with the child's medical and dental care, eye care, durable medical equipment and supplies, psychiatric/behavioral health care, and medical transportation.
  • Reimbursement for certain one-time expenses relating to completing the adoption process (non-recurring adoption expenses). This benefit provides reimbursement up to $1,200 per adoption for reasonable and necessary adoption expenses directly related to completing the adoption process. These expenses may include fees paid directly to child placing agencies as well as court costs, attorney fees, and other fees directly related to the legal completion of the adoption.
  • Monthly payments to assist with the child's needs. The monthly adoption assistance payments are determined based upon the child's special needs and the adoptive family's circumstances. Assistance is considered for the following types of special needs:

    (a) Exceptional initial placement expenses, (b) special maintenance, (c) child care, (d) supportive educational needs, (e) maintaining sibling/other family contact, and (f) routine maintenance when needed.

 

Sources of Adoption Assistance

DFPS provides adoption assistance from two sources. The first source is the:

  • federal Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and
  • Texas' own state adoption assistance.

 

Title IV-E Eligibility Requirements

The following five requirements must be met for a child to be eligible for Title IV-E funded adoption assistance:

  1. The child must qualify as "special needs," as described below, at the time the adoptive placement agreement is signed.
  2. Reasonable efforts must be made to place the child without adoption assistance, except when to do so is contrary to the child's best interest.
  3. The child must be placed for adoption by DFPS, or a private, licensed, non-profit child-placing agency. For both relative and non-relative placements, the adoptive home must meet all of the requirements for approval under licensing minimum standards, including the criminal-records check.
  4. The child must be in an adoptive placement and meet one of the following four conditions:

    (a) The child is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) during the adoptive placement,

    (b) the child is AFDC eligible both in the month that court proceedings began that resulted in the order removing the child from the home and in the month the adoption petition is filed,

    (c) the child was determined eligible for Title IV-E foster care assistance both at the time the child entered care and in the month the adoption petition is filed, or

    (d) the child lives with a minor parent in foster care, and the child's costs are included in the Title IV-E foster care payments being made on behalf of the minor parent.

  5. The adoption assistance agreement must be signed before the adoption is consummated.

State Adoption Assistance Requirements

The following six requirements must be met for a child to be eligible for state adoption assistance:

  1. The child must not be eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance.
  2. The child must qualify as "special needs," as described below at the time the adoptive placement agreement is signed.
  3. Reasonable efforts must have been made to place the child without adoption assistance, except when to do so was contrary to the child's best interest.
  4. The child must be placed in an approved adoptive placement with DFPS as the child's managing conservator. For both relative and non-relative placements, the adoptive home must meet all of the requirements for approval under licensing minimum standards, including criminal records checks.
  5. The child's resources must be less than $10,000.
  6. The adoption assistance agreement must be signed before the adoption is consummated.

Requirements for Non-recurring Adoption Expenses

These expenses may include fees paid directly to child placing agencies as well as court costs, attorney fees, and other fees directly related to the legal completion of the adoption.

Children who meet Title IV-E or state adoption assistance eligibility requirements automatically qualify for reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses.

However, reimbursement will not be made until the adoption is consummated. A separate request for adoption assistance is not necessary.

For adoptions that do not qualify for Title IV-E or state adoption assistance, the following four requirements must be met to gain reimbursement for non-recurring adoption expenses.

  1. The child must qualify as having "special needs" at the time an adoptive placement agreement is signed.
  2. The adoptive placement must occur in accordance with relevant state and federal laws relating to child placement.
  3. The adoptive parents must be residents of Texas.
  4. The adoptive parents must sign an agreement to receive reimbursement for non-recurring adoption expenses prior to consummation of the adoption.

    Stepparent Adoptions

    By federal policy, stepparent adoptions do not qualify for nonrecurring adoption expense reimbursement.

    International Adoption

    An international adoption may qualify for this benefit if the child is a "special needs" child at the time of adoptive placement and the adoption assistance agreement is signed prior to consummation of the adoption.

 

Definition of Special Needs

The child must be younger than 18 years old and meet one of the following criteria when the adoptive placement agreement is signed:

  1. The child is at least six years old;
  2. the child is at least two years old and a member of a minority group that traditionally has barriers to adoption;
  3. the child is being adopted with a sibling or to join a sibling; or
  4. the child has a verifiable physical, mental, or emotional handicapping condition, as established by an appropriately qualified professional through a diagnosis that addresses: (a) what the condition is; and (b) that the condition is indeed handicapping.

The state must determine that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his parents.

A reasonable effort must be made to find an adoptive placement without providing adoption assistance, unless doing so is against the child's best interests.

 

Children under DFPS Jurisdiction

DFPS is responsible for determining eligibility and negotiating the adoption assistance agreements for children who are placed for adoption under varying circumstances. Foremost among these responsibilities are determinations for children who are in the managing conservatorship of DFPS, regardless of the location of the placement. These responsibilities also extend to children who are in the legal care of and placed for adoption by a licensed, non-profit child-placing agency when the child is placed with a family that resides in Texas. The child-placing agency need not be licensed in Texas but at least must be licensed/certified by another state to provide adoption placement services.

DFPS also determines eligibility and negotiates agreements for children who previously received Title IV-E adoption assistance or state adoption assistance and whose adoption terminated because of the death of the adoptive parents or termination of their parental rights and at the same time are not in the care of another state's public child welfare agency. DFPS will also assume responsibility for children who have subsequent adoptive parents who resided in Texas at the time of the adoptive placement. If the child received prior state adoption assistance, DFPS will assume responsibility regardless of the adoptive parents' state of residence.

 

Payment Ceilings for Adoption Assistance

The payment ceilings are established by the DFPS Board and are based upon two separate amounts. For children whose service level is Basic at the time of adoptive placement the ceiling is $400 per month. For children whose service level is Moderate or higher, the payment ceiling is $545 per month. The payment ceilings cannot be exceeded and are not automatically provided to any child.

 

Requests for Adoption Assistance

Requests for adoption assistance are made through the regional adoption assistance eligibility units. Ask your worker for the Request for Adoption Assistance forms.

For more information go to:
Texas Administrative Code -ADOPTION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

 

State Adoption Assistance Contact

Latasha Henry
Texas Department of Family & Protective Services
2525 Ridgepoint Drive
Austin, Texas 78754
Phone: 512-919-7965
FAX: 512-339-5927