The Adoption Process
A great beginning resource for understanding the adoption process can be found by reading this document.
- Step 1: Educate yourself
- Many resources exist to help prospective adoptive parents educate themselves about adoption.
- For information provided by government institutions, check out the Intercountry Adoption and the Child Welfare websites.
- For great reading material, these books have been invaluable resources during our journey so far: The Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child, Adopted for Life, and Successful Adoption.
- Step 2: Understand the law.
- Adoption laws very by State and Country. Adoption laws listed by State can be found here.
- The Hague Convention is an “international agreement to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child.” The Convention entered into force for the United States in April 2008. The Hague Adoption Convention applies to adoptions between the United States and the other countries that have joined it. You can learn more about the Hague Convention here.
- Step 3: Explore your options/Select an agency
- In general, there are two basic options for adoption: Domestic and International.
- The way you choose to adopt will depend on the characteristics of the child you wish to adopt, how long you are willing to wait for your child, etc.
- A great resource for deciding which option is best for you can be found here.
- If you adopt using an agency, picking one that has a long history of successfully placed adoptions is very important.
- Step 4: Complete a home study
- Home studies are usually conducted by a State approved Social Worker.
- The home studies are designed to help you access whether or not your home is a suitable environment for a child, and includes an assessment of the physical and emotional safety of the home.
- More information about the home study process can be found here and an example of a completed home study can be viewed here.
- Step 5: Engage in the placement process
- Depending on the type of adoption you are pursuing, the characteristics of the child or children you are seeking, and a variety of other factors, this process and the time involved in waiting for your child can vary greatly.
- Step 6: File necessary legal documents
- All domestic adoptions need to be finalized in court and this process varies from State to State. Generally a child must have lived with the adoptive family for at least 6 months before the adoption can be legally finalized. During this time, a social worker may visit several times to ensure the child is well cared for and to write up the required court reports. After this period, the agency (or attorney in an independent adoption) will submit a written recommendation of approval of the adoption to the court. You or your attorney can then file with the court to complete the adoption.
- For intercountry adoptions, the actual adoption procedure is just one of a series of required legal processes. In addition to the laws of your State, you must also follow the laws of the child’s country of origin and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requirements (see www.uscis.gov). If you adopt from a country that participates in the Hague Convention, the process carries further requirements to safeguard the parties involved. The process to finalize the adoption depends on the type of intercountry adoption, the type of visa the child has, and the laws in your State.
- Step 7: Parent your child
- Adoption only begins with these first steps. Parenting is a lifelong process. Preparing for parenthood, as well as garnering continued support, is vital to your families’ future success. Even though we aren’t parents yet, Cyndi and I consider our family, friends, church, and our relationship with each other to be invaluable resources to becoming great parents for our future kids.
Much of the logistical information presented here has been used with permission from the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online here.