Adoption is a lifelong commitment you make to a child and the legal status given to you as a parent to provide for the care, custody, safety and well-being of a child. Adoption offers children the highest level of permanency.

Most children entering foster care as a result of abuse and neglect in their home are able to successfully reunify with their family thanks to the hard work and commitment of their parents, their foster parents and the support from professionals. However, when children and youth cannot safely return home, Adoption is the preferred alternative. The State is continually recruiting for families who are ready and able to commit to a child or youth waiting for adoption.

The Children

  • All have experienced abuse and /or neglect. 
  • Most have special developmental, medical, educational, and emotional needs as a result of their difficult life circumstances.
  • Some are part of a sibling group who need to be adopted together. 
  • Most have experienced significant losses in their lives and are grieving. 
  • Some will need to maintain a connection with their birth family.
  • Some are older teens who are willing to make a commitment to a family. 
  • Others are in residential settings and will need help and patience as they make the transition to life in a family. 

Who Can Adopt Through DCYF?

DCYF welcomes any individual or couple who are residents of NH. Families who have adopted through NH DCYF come from all walks of life. They may be married, single, have no children, or already be parenting children. 

Adoptive families do have:

  • Experience with children 
  • A sense of humor 
  • A good support system 
  • A flexible lifestyle and expectations 
  • A willingness to learn 
  • The ability to make a long term parenting commitment 
  • An enjoyment of the challenge of parenting 

The Process

The process to adopt through NH DCYF is designed to give prospective families all of the information they need to decide if adopting through DCYF is the best choice for them. All prospective adoptive families need to be licensed as foster families by DCYFLearn more about becoming a foster parent.

The DCYF Adoption Program provides adoption support services and adoption search services. Pre and post adoption services for adoptive families include support groups, information and referral services, administration of the Adoption Subsidy program, and training and home studies for NH adoptive families seeking to adopt children through DCYF. 


Do birth parents still get visitation after the children are adopted?

All contact would be at the discretion of the adopted family. It usually is in the best interest of the children to maintain some contact with their birth family (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins etc.) if it is a healthy and safe to do so. If families enter into a mediated adoption agreement, then both families would outline in a legal agreement what will be allowed for contact. Examples are phone calls, letters, pictures, notification if a life-threatening condition arises, private Facebook groups for updates and pictures. All contact will still be at the adoptive parents’ discretion. If there is an issue with the agreement post-adoption, the families need to return to court and resolve this on their own, as there will no longer be a DCYF case.

After a child is adopted, will DCYF still provide supports to the adoptive family and child?

Once a child is adopted, the case is closed and DCYF is no longer active in the child’s life. Adoptive families can receive support from DCYF Post-Adopt Services.

After the adoption, can the birth family petition the court for their rights to their children back?

In most states including New Hampshire, if the parental rights have been terminated by a court of law and the children have been legally adopted, there is no provision for reinstating parental rights or reversing an adoption decree except under certain circumstances such as fraud, duress, coercion, etc.

How long will it be before I can adopt?

If your goal is to adopt a child who is already legally free, the child would need to reside in your home for a minimum of six months before an adoption could be finalized. A formal process occurs before a child is matched with a pre-adoptive family.

If a child, who was placed with us for foster care, becomes free for adoption, would we automatically become the adopted parents?

Not necessarily. A formal adoption matching process occurs for each child. The child’s team will review submitted home studies and information of those wishing to adopt that child. Decisions are made based on the best interest of the child both currently and in the future.