From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: National Adoption Month is a chance to boost hope for some of Idaho’s most vulnerable

November 3, 2023
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

In the past five years I’ve signed 1,596 adoption papers for children being adopted from foster care into new families.

Signing adoptions is part of my job as director at DHW and one of the most moving and emotionally wrenching thing I do at work. I read each and every one, and often tear up as I do. Each adoption is a story about loss and grief that transforms into a story about care, support and hope.

November is National Adoption Month and an opportunity to spread awareness about adoption as a positive way to grow families. It’s also about recognizing the hundreds of thousands of children throughout the nation waiting for permanent families and advocating for the wellbeing and future of children in foster care.

There are different types of adoptions. An adoption done through DHW is a public agency adoption that’s facilitated by the department or another state or county social service department. The department does not provide private adoptions.

In a public agency adoption, the department has custody of the children in foster care and typically works with a birth family to try to reunite them for 12 months. If that’s unable to occur, the court may terminate parental rights, and the child is then available for adoption.

In most cases, Idaho children adopted from foster care have special needs. They may have physical, mental, emotional, or medical disabilities, or they may be part of a group of siblings who should stay together. Some children may be older but still need a permanent home through adoption.

The department’s goal is to find a family who can best meet a child’s needs within 24 months of when the child enters foster care. To help meet this goal, the department looks for relatives who are interested and able to adopt the child. When no relatives are available or if placement with a relative is not in the child’s best interest, non-relative foster families often adopt.

Families who adopt children with special needs are eligible to apply for federal or state adoption assistance benefits. These benefits help subsidize the expenses associated with finalizing an adoption and the cost of parenting a child who has special needs.

Below are more resources for people seeking additional information about adoption in Idaho:

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend! 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

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