I am interested in adopting a 6-year-old boy who was previously adopted from foster care by my friend. My friend is a single mother and cannot handle the needs of the child. I have always been very close with him, and my friend has asked me to adopt. The child has the same needs he had before my friend adopted him, but I am being told that if I adopt him from my friend, he will no longer qualify to receive the adoption subsidy he currently receives. I cannot afford to adopt him without the subsidy. Is there any chance there are any resources available to help me?
Barbara’s Answer: YES! If a child was determined eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance payments with respect to a prior adoption that disrupts, the child shall be treated as meeting the requirements (i.e., assuming the child’s needs still exist, the subsidy shall follow the child to the second adoption). https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title04/0473.htm. The requirements are the same as in the child’s first adoption in that these benefits become available upon finalization of the adoption; however, the State must approve the adoption assistance and the Adoption Assistance Agreement must be signed by all parties before the finalization of the adoption, or the benefits will not be available.
Second, depending on the diagnosis/severity of the needs of the child, the child may qualify for SSI. https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm. The child may qualify for BOTH SSI and ongoing adoption assistance; however, the adoption assistance payments will be offset by/deducted from the SSI benefits. If applicable, any SSI benefits in excess of the adoption subsidy continue to be provided, of course.
One important factor to keep in mind is that SSI has income requirements, but adoption assistance does not, so it makes sense to apply for adoption assistance in addition to SSI since an increase in income will not impact receipt of adoption assistance but may impact SSI benefits.
More about Barbara: Barbara’s practice includes representation of birth parents, prospective adoptive parents, and private adoption agencies. Barbara’s vocational experience includes interstate (ICPC) adoption; contested adoption; re-finalization of international adoption (as well as registrations of foreign births); private agency adoption, independent adoption; family member adoption; and adult adoption.