You’re thinking about adopting a baby here in the U.S. In the adoption world, that’s called “Domestic Infant Adoption.” It is a beautiful and life-expanding way to build your family. Sometimes, however, adopting a baby can seem like a pretty overwhelming process. That’s why we’ve put together this slideshow for you. We’re hoping to help you see that adopting a baby is something YOU can do. Over the next several slides, we’ll cover the basic steps in a domestic infant adoption.
Babies! Tiny little fingers and toes. Shiny eyes. Toothless grins. Little fat rolls on arms. Babies make life so much more complicated-- and yet, at the same time, boil it down to a state of utter simplicity.
In your heart you know that becoming a parent is the right choice for you. You are ready to love unconditionally. You’re here because you’re wondering if domestic adoption is the right avenue to take as you work to grow your family.
As you’re making this life-altering decision, you may also want to study the guides for other types of adoption:
International Adoption Guide
Foster Adoption Guide
You’ve heard that adopting a baby can be expensive. And it’s true. Whether we like it or not, the cost of adoption services can play a major role in which type of adoption feels like the best for your family.
The average cost of a domestic infant adoption in the United States generally costs somewhere between $5,000 and $30,000. Right now you’re probably wondering how you’ll ever be able to afford it!
Take heart! There are ways to make adoption affordable, for anyone on any budget. Some adoption agencies will charge fees based on a sliding scale or give grants, but even if yours doesn’t, here are some other options that will help make your adoption affordable:
The Adoption Tax Credit
It’s important to be in a place, mentally and emotionally, where you are ready to do this. Grief over your infertility is something you should address openly and honestly with your adoption social worker. He or she should be able to help you identify ways to work through the process, if you haven’t already done so.
You can learn more about the home study process here.
-Desha Wood, Birth Mother
Many people are initially uncomfortable at the idea of an open adoption. However, most infant adoptions completed in the United States are open, and we here at Adoption.com fully endorse that change. Why? Read on!
-Lindsey Redfern, Adoptive Mom
Here are just a few reasons that open adoption is so important for your adopted child:
- Children need the sense of identity that comes from understanding their biological roots.
- Children benefit from hearing the story of why they were placed for adoption from the people who chose to place them.
- Children thrive when they are able to experience firsthand the love of the parents who are raising them-- and the love of the parents who chose adoption for them.
You, too, can benefit from the open relationship. You will love being able to reach out and connect with the people who changed your life forever by entrusting you with their child.
A recent study revealed showed that most people who have open relationships with their children’s birth parents actually wish they had more contact with them than they already do.
Fact: Your child’s birth mom will have made a careful, painstaking decision to place him with an adoptive family. She will legally relinquish her legal rights to parenting her child.
Myth: Hearing about/seeing her baby will make it impossible for the birth mother to “move on.”
Fact: A mother never forgets her child. Hearing about/seeing the baby progress is one way to soften the loss.
Myth: Open adoption is confusing to children.
Fact: Children in open adoption relationships can very easily discern between their parents and their birth parents, just as they can discern between their parents and their grandparents or their parents and their aunts and uncles.
Hopeful adoptive parents sometimes don’t realize the magnitude of the commitments they’re making when they say, “Of course we’ll let you have any amount of contact you choose to have with your baby” or “The adoption will be as open as you want it to be.”
It’s important that you carefully consider--and then keep--the promises you make to your child’s birth parents.
With Domestic Infant Adoption, you have two main choices in how to pursue a domestic infant adoption: employing the services of a private adoption agency or completing the adoption privately, using an adoption attorney.
In some states, you are required by law to use an agency to complete your adoption. Check out the adoption laws in your state by clicking here . Bear in mind that if you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to comply with adoption laws that govern the use of professionals in both the state you’re adopting from and the state you live in.
Costs for agency vs. private adoptions are generally comparable, but situations vary widely.
1) Ask for referrals. Your doctor, your cousin, your friend, your counselor, or that extra-friendly lady at the grocery store may know of an amazing adoption professional and be able to point you in the right direction.
2) Check out our Directory/Reviews and read reviews of adoption agencies and attorneys in your area.
3) Compare various adoption professionals. (A binder or spreadsheet could be helpful here.) Call and ask questions and note their answers and your impressions in your binder. Check the make sure the agency is licensed and look for any complaints that may be pending against its licensure; find out if your agency has been accredited, and check with the Better Business Bureau for a rating on the business.
There is a lot involved in a home study, including making visits to your doctor for a physical, getting fingerprinted for a criminal history background check, and meeting with a social worker in your home. You will be asked to answer a lot of questions about yourself, your childhood, your marriage (if you’re married), your neighborhood, and your opinions on child discipline. You’ll also need to provide your social worker with a list of people who can recommend you for adoption.
Click here to learn more about getting a home study.
You may feel that it is unfair that you have to go through this process, but it helps to look at it this way: your social worker is acting as the eyes and ears of your future child’s birth parents. Think of it from their perspective. If you had decided to place your precious baby with another family to raise and care for, wouldn’t you want to know everything about them? A birth parent wants to know--as much as she possibly can know--that the family she’s placing her baby with is a good one. That her baby will be safe. That her baby will be loved. Nothing can guarantee that, of course, but the home study is a safeguard put in place for her benefit.
Learn tips for surviving your home study from a social worker who is also an adoption dad.
In addition to creating a profile with your adoption agency-- or if you’re pursuing an independent adoption--consider creating a profile to post online on Adoption.com Parent ProfilesSM.
Here are some hints:
- Try to provide a mixture of professional photos and snapshots.
- Professional images can be appealing as a first impression and snapshots can help provide insight into your day-to-day life.
- Pick images with good lighting and composition.
- Have someone proofread your profile for grammar, spelling, and clarity.
Consider taking the time to read these awesome articles about making the most of your adoption profile:
Tips for Creating a Successful Adoption Profile
Writing a Dear Expectant Parent Letter
Making an Adoption Blog
Tips for Adding Quality Photos to Your Adoption Profile
5 Ways to Make Your Adoption Video Make Magic"
Don’t get too caught up in all that. Try to represent yourself as honestly as possible. It may surprise you what it is about your profile that interests someone considering placement for their baby.
Take, for example, Andrew and Deanna. They were worried about including pictures of all of their dogs in their Parent Profile(SM). (“People might think we’re crazy!”) They did it anyway-- and a mother working at PetsMart saw their profile and knew they were the right parents for her daughter.
Tell everyone you know that you’re hoping to adopt. Announce it on Facebook and ask people to share your profile with others. Create an adoption blog that your friends can share. Consider including a note in your annual Christmas card letting your friends and family know you’re hoping to adopt.
You never know whose cousin’s friend’s sister-in-law might be considering adoption for the baby she’s expecting. Many people were matched with potential birth parents because they spread the word that they were hoping to adopt.
Here are some tips on using social media to promote your adoption.
Once that match has been made, you can begin building the relationship with the woman or couple considering placing their child with you.
If it is at all possible, it’s best for you to actively seek to obtain the consent of the birth father as well. Many states now have “Putative Father Registries” that allow men who believe they may be the father of a child to have a say in plans for that child. Your adoption agency or attorney will check the registry to make sure that no one has made a claim to paternity before the child is placed.
Of course, the best case scenario is an adoption plan that involves him in the decision making process and the opportunity to get to know him and his family.
Be prepared to communicate your hopes, but understand that ultimately, the feelings of the expectant mother are the most important. This is a vulnerable and tender time for her. She should be able to identify key elements of the event, such as who will be present with her during delivery, who will cut the baby’s umbilical cord, who will hold the baby first, when the adoptive parents will be contacted, how much “alone time” time she plans spend with the baby before placement, and more.
Encourage our hopeful child’s biological mother to openly and honestly express what she wants and support her in her decisions.
This is a great opportunity for both biological parents and adoptive parents to practice open and honest communication with one another.
Try to be as open as you can to last-minute changes in birth plans and also be ready to give your baby’s biological parents all the time they need with their baby. Keep your visits short. This time in the hospital is usually a special and sacred time for all new parents, but especially for those who my be placing their child for adoption. Use empathy and listen to your heart.
Your emotions will likely be all over the place. Emotions may range from feeling like you don’t fit in at the hospital to anxiety to pure joy to lack of control to unconditional love. Take a deep breath. This is the day you’ve been waiting for as well.
- Lemony Snicket, Horseradish
This is the day you get to bring your baby home! This is a bittersweet day with lots of tears on all sides. Be prepared for your heart to grow three sizes.
Check out the adoption laws in your state by clicking here.
A failed placement is when a child has been placed with adoptive parents but, for whatever reason, the legal paperwork cannot be obtained that would allow the adoption placement to proceed.
A failed adoption can feel like the end of the world, but you can make it through your grief. Take time to grieve and to heal. Keep hope alive in your heart and be forgiving.
- Brad Pitt
Finalization is the day when the baby becomes legally and bindingly a part of your family. You’ll attend a court hearing to complete this process.
The time period between placement and finalization can vary from a few weeks to several months to half a year. Again, this depends on your state’s regulations.
During the gap between placement and the finalizing of an adoption, you’ll have a bit more paperwork to complete and your adoption caseworker may come to visit a time or two to make sure everything is going well.