I thought I would share a very loose, generic look at a typical foster-to-adopt timeline for those that aren't familiar. This is our basic understanding and this is most likely not exact or perfect. We are also in Virginia, and I'm sure it varies from state to state.
DSS - Department of Social Services
CPS - Child Protective Services
Step 1: Receive phone call from DSS asking if you are willing to accept a particular child. Not much information is given at this time and you have to make an almost immediate decision.
Step 2: CPS Officer arrives with child (sometimes within minutes of the initial phone call)!
Step 3: Court Hearing within the first week to determine that child should remain in foster care. Case is still a CPS case. This is the earliest a child usually would be removed from foster and given back to their birthparents.
Step 4: Court Hearing within 30 days of removal to determine that child should remain in foster care, (at this point the case is handled by a foster care worker and is no longer a CPS case) or be returned to the birthparents.
Step 5: Court hearing at the 75 day mark or 45 days from the Step 4 Court Hearing. This hearing puts a plan in motion and is an order to the birthparents and foster parents on what they need to be doing. Foster parents are ordered to continue to provide a safe, loving home. Birthparents may be ordered to do many things like take a parenting class, get a job, clean the home, and/or go to rehab.
Step 6: Within 6 months of the Step 5 Court Hearing a Foster Care Review Hearing should be set up to report the progress of the birthparents.
Step 7: Within 5 months of the Foster Care Review Hearing a Permanency Review Hearing will be held. This hearing can be held sooner if the plan can be reached sooner.
Step 8: If the permanency plan is for adoption then foster parents may move forward. There may be additional review hearings until adoption is complete (every 6 months)
In order to adopt, the child must have been in the adoptive parents home for at least 6 months. We are of the understanding that this back-dates to the date of the initial placement of the child in our home. So even if parental rights are terminated in the final steps, the 6 month goal would have been met at this point and you can petition for adoption.
Next up: What we've been up to, including Daniel's 6th Birthday!!