How To Adopt A Child Guide

Welcome to the adoption world!

Adopting a child and becoming part of the adoption community will change your life forever. Your heart will grow in ways you didn’t even know were possible.

As Jean ValJean sings after adopting Cosette in the motion picture Les Miserables,

Suddenly the world
Seems a different place
Somehow full of grace and delight
How was I to know that so much hope was held inside me?

The adoption process is a roller coaster of emotions, paperwork, and love. Although it can seem overwhelming at first, knowledge is power. We hope to empower you with knowledge about the adoption process in this educational tour.  With this knowledge you will be better equipped as you decide if adoption is right for you and hopefully get started on fulfilling your dream of adopting a child to love and providing a forever home for this child.

Although every family is unique in their adoption, there are steps to the process, and they often go something like this:

Decide to Adopt
1. Decide to Adopt
Whether you’ve known since kindergarten that you wanted to adopt a child, came to the decision after years of trying to conceive, or something in the middle, welcome!

“No matter how motherhood comes to you, it is a miracle.” -Valerie Harper, Adoptive Mother
Adoption is Forever
2. Adoption is Forever
Adoption can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Without a doubt, it will change your family forever because adoption is for forever. In additional to all the other emotions that all new parents feel, there is nothing quite like being chosen by a pregnant couple who is considering adoption to be the parents of their child. It is sacred. Being entrusted with raising a child is a miracle.

Adoption may be the perfect choice for your family but we also know that it may not be the best option for every family. As you seek your own answers to the question, “Is adoption right for me?", it's equally important to explore the other side of the question: "Am I right for adoption?"

The next few slides highlight some questions you may want to consider on your journey to parenthood. Keep reading!
What Can I Handle?
3. What Can I Handle?
Before you decide to adopt, think about your strengths. What are you especially equipped to handle? It is also important to ask yourself about your limitations. Do you have financial, age, health, or relationship concerns? Do you recognize any limits you would not like to exceed? What special needs are you uniquely qualified to deal with? Are there potential situations that would stretch your comfort zone beyond the boundaries? What is your heart telling you? Do you have a reservoir of love and attention to shower your child with?

Children require unconditional love, financial support, time, and other significant lifestyle commitments that will be necessary in order for parenting to be a success. Your commitment will be tested during the process and during the parenting years but it is so very worth it.
Am I Ready?
4. Am I Ready?
This is a time for some serious soul-searching. It’s a good time to explore your reasons for wanting to adopt. Ask yourself: Do you long to provide a loving, stable family for a child to grow up in? Do you have love that you want to share with a child?

Adoption is a permanent proposition that requires a lifelong commitment by everyone involved. It is extremely important that you adopt for the right reasons.

Ask yourself, deep down do you feel like you are being “forced” to adopt to build your family due to infertility? Do you believe that adoption, as a means to build a family, is "second best"? That adoption is your "last resort" if you want to be able to have children? Do you want to give a child a forever family? Do you want to help a child overcome some of the challenges he or she has faced early in life? Are you willing to be there as a support for the child through thick and thin?
Think About Who Will Fit
5. Think About Who Will Fit
Infant? Toddler? Older child? Same race? Different race? Special needs? Domestic? International? Foster? It’s your family you’re thinking about building, so you’ll need to think about the needs of your new addition. Who belongs in that empty chair at your dinner table?

It is common for those new to adoption to start out with narrow expectations of the child they want to adopt, and then to expand their views as the education process proceeds. Experienced adoptive families have found it important for those starting the process to resist the temptation to quickly narrow the group of adoptable children that they would be willing to consider. You may find that by adopting a type of child you hadn’t initially planned to adopt your cup will run over with joy. And remember, don't overlook the possibility of adopting more than one child.

In the following slides, we will talk about domestic infant adoption, foster adoption, and international adoption.
Domestic Infant Adoption
6. Domestic Infant Adoption
Many prospective parents seek to adopt healthy infants from within the United States. Adoption fees and waiting times vary tremendously, depending on the type of adoption involved the the specific circumstances of the adoption.
Foster Adoption
7. Foster Adoption
There are currently more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. Over 100,000 of those children are eligible for adoption and looking for forever families.

Some of these children may have special needs-- meaning they may be older (grade school through teens); may have a disability or medical condition; or may be brothers and sisters who should be adopted together.

Public agencies--and some private agencies--place children with special needs. In addition, national, regional, and state adoption exchanges will assist in linking prospective parents with these children who are waiting for families.

In many cases, financial assistance in the form of adoption subsidies is available to help parents with the legal, medical, and living costs associated with caring for a child with special needs.

Adoption exchanges, adoption agencies, and heart galleries usually have photolistings and descriptions of children waiting for their forever families.
Photolisting
8. Photolisting
International Adoption
9. International Adoption
Many children in other countries are available for adoption. Countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America are the “sending countries” for most foreign-born children adopted by Americans. More than 700 U.S. private agencies place children from foreign countries for adoption, and a few countries allow families to work with attorneys rather than agencies. Children available for adoption in other countries are often living in orphanages or, in some instances, are in foster care.

Adoption exchanges and adoption agencies usually have photolistings and descriptions of available children in foreign countries.
Photolisting
10. Photolisting
Check out international kids waiting for families here on Adoption.com.
Get Professional Help
11. Get Professional Help
Now that you’ve made it this far, you’ll need to decide on what kind of professionals can assist you on your journey. Will a private adoption agency best serve your needs? What’s a public adoption agency? Would a private adoption be best? Should you use an adoption facilitator?

Since adoption laws in the state where you live will, in most cases, govern your options, it is essential that you know what types of placements are allowed or not allowed by your state's adoption laws, but here’s the skinny on each type of professional service:
Agency Adoptions
12. Agency Adoptions
Adoption agencies often provide more support services than in a private adoption, such as pre-adoption education, counseling, home studies, and post-adoption services and/or referrals. An agency usually does all of the "finding" of possible adoption opportunities for you. With increased services, costs are often higher than a private adoption.

Agency adoptions can involve a wide range of adoptable children, depending on the focus of the agency. Some agencies specialize in the placement of international children, bi-racial children, special needs children, or children of a particular ethnic group. Other agencies may be involved entirely in adoptions involving infants. Some adoption agencies are selective in the type of adoptive couples with whom they will work.
Public vs. Private Agencies
13. Public vs. Private Agencies
Public agencies are usually supported by public funding, are run by counties or states, and generally assist in the adoption of children in the foster care system. Foster care adoptions generally cost little or no money.

Private agencies are usually licensed by the state but run privately and can assist in most types of adoption. Private agency adoption fees can range from $5,000-$30,000.
Private (Attorney-Facilitated) Adoptions
14. Private (Attorney-Facilitated) Adoptions
Private (or independent) adoptions are done through adoption attorneys, and may or may not involve an adoption opportunity that is located and arranged by the attorney. If so, the "finding" function that the attorney performs will increase the cost.

In some states, private attorneys cannot be involved in the "finding" and "matching" phases of an adoption, but are limited to finalizing the legal part of the adoption in court once the match has taken place.
Reviews
15. Reviews
Get started finding an adoption professional by checking out the Adoption.com Reviews, which features listings and reviews for adoption service providers across the country.

In the directory with reviews, you'll be able to search for resources such as agencies, attorneys, counseling, facilitators, organizations, publications, home study providers, and others in your region, and learn what people think of the service they've received from these providers.
Research Your Financial Options
16. Research Your Financial Options
This is a good time to begin thinking about finances. Click here for more information about funding your adoption. You can explore the costs of adoption, understand the adoption tax credit, learn about fundraising ideas, as well as discover what adoption loans and grants are available to you to help you facilitate your adoption.
Gather Up Your Paperwork
17. Gather Up Your Paperwork
Whatever your decision about professionals, it is time to begin collecting documents: birth certificates, marriage licenses, tax returns and financial statements. Make appointments for physicals, as you’ll need proof that you are in reasonably good health and a valid TB test. You’ll need to be fingerprinted as part of a criminal history background check.
Complete a Home Study
18. Complete a Home Study
What is a Home Study? A home study is a thorough investigation of your home, family, relationships and--more importantly--an opportunity to determine what “type” of child would be the best fit for your family. This process takes, on average, 2-6 months and requires quite a bit of paperwork. Learn more about Home Studies here.
Finding a Home Study Professional
19. Finding a Home Study Professional
If you’re going with an agency, they will arrange your home study. Independent hopeful adoptive parents will need to find a licensed social worker to perform the home study, and your attorney may have recommendations. Whoever you have, they will add to the above list with more necessary documents and duties.

Adoption.com can connect you with a home study professional in your area.

Click here to learn more and make a request for contact..

Or browse our Reviews/Directory.
Do Some Networking
20. Do Some Networking
With or without an agency working for you, active participation in your adoption may speed up the process and keep you busy and focused. Putting the word out with friends and family that you are hoping to adopt can be the first step, and there are many things you can do to increase the likelihood of a match or being selected by an expectant parent considering adoption.
Join Parent Profiles
21. Join Parent Profiles
A parent profiles listing can help you connect with potential birth parents. Your parent profile is something that can help you with your networking plan. Sharing your online parent profile link with family and friends is an easy way to help your family and friends share your hope to adopt with others.

Click here to get started on Adoption.com Parent Profiles℠.
Prepare for the Possibilities
22. Prepare for the Possibilities
The time after a match has been made will be filled with anticipation, preparation, and lots of excitement. Consider that there are three sides to the adoption triad. Educate yourself and create a post-placement contact/openness plan that you and the birth parents feel comfortable with. Whatever your relationship is to be with the child’s birth parents, begin now to cultivate respect and unconditional love for these individuals who are your child’s first parents. Always keep your promises.
Wait
23. Wait
This is by far one of the hardest of all the steps on the adoption journey.

If we look at the nine-month process that is involved when biological children come to their parents, it is easier for us to appreciate how it may be beneficial for hopeful adoptive parents to also "wait" for a period of time for the arrival of their child/children, so that while they are waiting, they will have time to better prepare themselves for the arrival.

There are many things that can go “wrong” but there are so many things that can go “right.” Hold onto hope, support these expectant parents considering adoption no matter what their final decision is, and remember the focus of adoption is the child.
Adoption!
24. Adoption!
Congratulations!

Adoption will change your life forever, adding depth and dimension that you may not even be able to imagine right now.

“Having kids - the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings - is the biggest job anyone can embark on. As with any risk, you have to take a leap of faith and ask lots of wonderful people for their help and guidance. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to parent.” ―Maria Shriver, Journalist and News Anchor
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