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Adoption Services

Henderson County Department of Social Services provides services to those interested in agency, relative, step-parent and independent adoptions. Agency adoptions involve children who are not able to safely return to their parents. Placement for these children is provided by licensed foster parents or relatives that are approved by the court. Often licensed foster parents or relatives are chosen as the adoptive parents for children who have been in their care. The process for becoming a licensed foster parent is outlined below.

November is National Adoption Month

  • Complete and return an application
  • Submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting
  • Allow home visits and personal interviews
  • Provide reference checks
  • Pass a physical examination
  • Pass home safety and cleanliness inspections
  • Complete the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) training
  • Work with staff to complete the licensure process

Foster parents and relatives who wish to adopt or individuals who have identified a child and wish to complete an independent adoption should prepare a written request for a home study which is called a pre-placement assessment (PPA). The PPA must be completed by a child placing agency such as Henderson County DSS or a private agency. Once the PPA is approved the family can be considered as a potential adoptive family for a child by the Adoption Committee.

Adoption Assistance Payments

Determination of eligibility for adoption assistance and administration of the benefits are the responsibility of the child’s resident county Department of Social Services. 

Adoption Assistance is available on behalf of a child if she or he meets all of the eligibility criteria and the county agency enters into an adoption assistance agreement with the prospective adoptive parents(s) prior to the finalization of the adoption.  A county agency shall enter into an adoption assistance agreement with the adoptive parents of a child determined to have special needs and provide adoption assistance if the child meets specific requirements. 

Adoption Assistance payments are tied to the foster care board rates and go up or down with changes in legislation. 

Non-Recurring Expenses of Adoption       

Parents adopting special needs children are eligible for reimbursement of non-recurring costs of the adoption up to a maximum of $2,000 for each adoptive placement (per adoptive episode).  Non-recurring adoption expenses are defined as the reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses which are directly related to the legal adoption of a child with special needs, not incurred in violation of State or Federal law, and which have not been reimbursed from other sources or funds. 

Vendor Payments to Medical or Therapeutic Providers

Vendor payments provide financial assistance for services or treatments for special needs which existed prior to the time of the child’s adoption.  The vendor payments must relate to a pre-existing physical, emotional or psychological handicapping condition and must be at the reasonable, customary and usual rate in the child’s community as determined by the local Department of Social Services.  In addition, the pre-existing condition must not be covered by private health care insurance or Medicaid.    Vendor payments are not intended to pay for the normal expenses of raising a child such as child care, summer camp, clothes, orthodontics and other such expenses, unless those expenses are specifically intended to treat or serve pre-existing physical, emotional or psychological handicapping conditions.  Vendor payments may be provided up to a maximum of $2,400 per state fiscal year for any combination of medical and/or non-medical services or treatment not covered by any medical insurance program.  To qualify, the Vendor Payment Request Form must be completed and submitted with an invoice to the Adoption Assistance Social Worker.  Each request will be reviewed on a case by case basis and considered for reimbursement. 

Get Vendor Payment Request form


Title XIX Medicaid coverage is required under title IV-E Adoption Assistance.  Children receiving adoption assistance are categorically eligible for Medicaid and generally receive benefits under the IAS Medicaid category.  Children who are IV-E eligible but not receiving cash benefits due to their “potential” status should be evaluated for the MAF Medicaid category.  Children who receive benefits under IV-B adoption assistance or State adoption assistance should be evaluated for the MAF Medicaid category.  If the adopting parents plan to move out of state, contact your Adoption Assistance Social Worker ahead of time, preferably, so there is no lapse in coverage.

Post-Adoption Services                                                                    

father and child

Post Adoption Services focus to strengthen and sustain families who have chosen to build their family through adoption.  Post Adoption Services help adoptive parents honor their child’s past and respond to disruptive behaviors in a positive manner.  Services include referrals to individual, family and group support; psychological consultations; and advocacy. 

Post Adoption Services are available as requested by the adoptive family.

Confidential Intermediary

Confidential Intermediary Services are available upon request for adoptees and adoptees biological parents.  Through this program Henderson County DSS can help adult adoptees search for biological parents, or biological parents search for their children who were adopted, but are now adults. Certain criteria must be met. Please call 828-697-5572 to see if you are eligible.