The Adoption Matching Process

Selection of a Family for a Child

We actively seek, identify, and select agency-approved adoptive families for children in permanent Cuyahoga County custody. These parents must meet the unique needs of each child, and adoption must be in every party’s best interest.

Children in County custody may only be placed with families who have completed an approved adoptive home study and are able and willing to comply with the rules of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children if placed outside the State of Ohio.

An assessor must complete the JFS 1530 “Multiple Children/Large Family Assessment” if you have a total of five or more children residing in the home, including the prospective adoptive child and any foster or kinship children.

To begin the matching and selection process, caseworkers identify the child’s current and future best interests and special needs, taking into account several factors including:
  • The Child Study Inventory.
  • The case plan.
  • Medical history.
  • Education summaries.
  • Psychological and therapy reports.
  • Case notes.
  • Other appropriate documentation.

The child’s desires are also considered on an age-appropriate basis.

Criteria for matching adoptive parents to available children, include, but are not limited to:
  • Length of time between placements.
  • Consideration of placing siblings together.
  • Preferences to placing children with relatives and foster caregivers.

Prospective families for the child are then identified based on their ability to meet the child’s best interests and special needs on a lifelong basis.

The following individuals may be considered as potential adoptive parents for a child:
  • Adult relatives who have expressed an interest are given priority consideration, provided the relative caregiver meets all Ohio child protection and adoption home study standards.
  • Foster parents are also given priority consideration when relatives are unable to meet the child’s best interests, special needs, or are unavailable to adopt the child. When the County decides to pursue permanent custody, they notify the foster parents and their licensing agency. At that time, foster parents may express their interest as a candidate to adopt the child. Foster parents must notify the agency in writing regarding their decision. The time the child has spent with the foster parent will count towards the required service period prior to finalization.
  • If neither of the above options is viable, adoptive families who have been approved by Cuyahoga County or another government agency, may be considered.

When the waiting child is of Native American heritage, priority for adoptive placement is given to the child’s tribe or another Native American family. Cuyahoga County complies with all aspects of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) regarding decision-making for and placement of Native American children.

Matching Conference Process:

A matching conference is a structured decision-making process to select the most appropriate family to match with the child. At this conference, participants discuss and determine which of the identified adoptive families can best meet the child’s best interests and special needs.

The matching conference is conducted by a facilitator and includes the child’s social worker, child’s Guardian ad Litem, each of the prospective families’ adoption assessor, and DCFS supervisors. Other individuals such as teachers, therapists, foster parents, or others may attend as needed. If an adoptive family approved by another agency is being considered, a representative of that agency must attend.

During the matching conference the agency will consider all prospective adoptive families. The agency maintains compliance with Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, and the Multiethnic Placement Act 1994. The agency may hold a state hearing when an adoptive family believes they were or will be denied placement solely because of geographic location.

Prospective adoptive parents (approved by Cuyahoga County DCFS, any Ohio agency, or out of state agency) may inquire about adopting any child in the permanent custody of Cuyahoga County, any Ohio agency, or any out of state agency.

Families interested in adoption are encouraged to maintain contact with Cuyahoga County DCFS by:
  • Participating in agency adoption fairs and recruitment activities.
  • Attending ongoing trainings.
  • Calling or visiting with their adoption assessor.
  • Checking Internet sites which feature waiting children such as AdoptUsKids.
  • Contacting the recruitment department.
  • Visiting our index of Adoptable Kids.

Formal Adoption Presentation

When an approved adoptive family is selected, we contact the family and give information about the child. If the family says they would consider adoptive placement of the child, the prospective parents attend a formal presentation. Several people attend the formal presentation, including: the child’s social worker and that person’s supervisor, the prospective adoptive family and their adoption assessor, plus other individuals who may assist in presenting information about the child. This could include the child’s foster parents, therapists, teachers, and Guardian Ad Litem.

Prospective parents are encouraged to take notes and ask questions during the presentation. The following materials are reviewed and discussed. Copies of these materials are provided to the prospective parents:
  • Child Study Inventory.
  • Individual Child Care Agreement.
  • Medical history summary.
  • Placement summary.
  • Summary of psychological and therapy reports.
  • Summary of school reports.
  • Eligibility for adoption subsidies.
  • Adoption Disclosure Form.

The adoptive family must see the child’s Lifebook and pictures. The prospective parents don’t have to make a final decision at the meeting. We encourage families to take time to discuss the child and the potential impact of adoption on the family. The family has three days to decide whether or not to proceed with the adoption. Should the prospective parent or parents decline, they are still considered for adoption of a different child in the future.