Adopting an abused child is a worthy goal. However, just because a child is mistreated does not mean he/she will be available for adoption. The rights of the biological parents are held in high regard by the state. Before adoption can be considered, the parents must either willingly abdicate their rights or the court terminate them on legal grounds.
In every state, there is a Child Protection Service (CPS) which is held legally responsible for investigating suspected child abuse. Anyone can make a report, even the children themselves. The reporter doesn’t have to have proof, only a reasonable suspicion. The reporting number is readily available, or one can call local law enforcement. If the report rises to the level of investigation as per that state’s laws, a Social Worker and/or law enforcement agent will investigate. If the children are in imminent danger, they may be removed to a safe place until the charges are investigated and the home is determined safe for them to return to. If they are not in danger, the children may remain in the home with further investigation pending.
The state’s goal is to keep the family together. If the home is unsafe, the Social Worker will work with the family to alleviate the problems so the child can live there safely. If the parents refuse to cooperate or to correct the problem, the state may take the situation before the court. Parental rights cannot be terminated, unless an impartial judge determines the children are in danger, the situation is uncorrectable, and such a move is necessary for the children’s safety. There must be legal cause. Sometimes the parents themselves wish to give up their parental rights and the judge also evaluates this and makes a determination. In either case, once done, the adults are no longer the parents of the children in the eyes of the court.
It is only after this point that an abused child is available for adoption. Sometimes this process takes months or even years. People often choose to be a foster parent as a preliminary step. After training, they can work with the Social Services Department to foster children with the understanding that later they may wish to adopt. Often the Department will place children with this in mind, as they hope to obtain stability for abused children as soon as possible.
If you are interested in adopting a special needs child, you should contact your local CPS office and they will direct you in their process. Most state agencies offer information meetings or a Social Worker will be happy to work with you. Almost all states have a waiting list of children needing homes and if you wish to parent such a child you will be very welcome.