Adoption is an amazing journey, but it seems like there are countless decisions to make at the beginning. What type of adoption will you pursue? What agency will you use? What are the differences between agencies? Why choose an agency over an adoption attorney? How do I begin? These are some important questions to consider that will shape your decision and assist you in making the best choice.
Adoption Agencies in Indiana versus Adoption Attorneys
The first question to ask yourself is whether you would prefer to use an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. Both provide help for the adoption journey, but an adoption agency offers a range of services to help you through this step-by-step process. Adoption agencies also will provide personal support for you as you go through the adoption process. They will often have a caseworker who writes your home study.
Adoption attorneys, on the other hand, typically do not have caseworkers that provide services needed for a home study. This means that you will need to find a caseworker to do your home study outside of your adoption attorney. Likewise, an attorney may not provide personal support for you as you go on your adoption journey. However, they will ensure that you’ve completed all the necessary paperwork and can help you through the legal aspects of your adoption.
One advantage to working with an adoption agency is that they may work with birth parents who are considering adoption. This may give your profile additional exposure because the adoption agency will present your profile to these birth parents. In some cases, this may increase your chances of being selected by a birth parent.
How Do Adoption Agencies in Indiana Work?
Adoption agencies in Indiana help parents complete the legal requirements for their adoptions. They ensure that you have completed all the required paperwork and help place children in homes.
Before committing to any adoption agency, you’ll want to research what is best for your particular adoption journey. The best place to start is by researching the different services and benefits of local adoption agencies. Many agencies offer an introductory meeting for those who want to get their questions answered. Keep a list of questions handy as you research various agencies so you can compare how they are different. Remember that adoption agencies have different services, so it’s important to find out what they offer for their fees.
Before You Select an Adoption Agency
Adoption agencies provide different services for different kinds of adoptions, so it’s important to figure out what type of adoption you want to pursue. Some adoption agencies specialize in international adoption while others do domestic adoption or foster adoption. Other aspects to research include the longevity of the adoption agency, their reputation among adoptive parents, their philosophy, and the number of placements they make every year.
Adoption agencies should fully disclose what their fees are, when they need to be paid, and which fees are not covered. It’s easy to look at the bottom line of what the total cost is going to be, but keep in mind that the most affordable agency may not offer the same services. Some agencies may not be able to do your home study or post-placement services. If this is the case, you’ll need to pay separately for a licensed caseworker to complete these tasks and this can increase your overall cost. Compare different agency fees in order to get the full picture of what you will owe.
Adoption agencies also provide more than just help with the paperwork trail. Often they become mentors on your adoption journey and provide helpful emotional support. If you feel like you need a guide for your adoption journey, find out from other adoptive parents whether they would recommend their adoption agency.
One of the most important tasks that your agency does is helping make sure that you meet all your legal requirements for adoption. This is necessary for your adoption to be finalized for a child to be placed in your home.
Types of Adoptions in Indiana
Before deciding on an agency, you will want to research the types of adoption that are available in Indiana. The three general types of adoption include domestic adoption, international adoption, and foster adoption.
Domestic adoption is also known as private infant adoption and usually takes place in the United States through a private adoption agency or attorney. Domestic adoption begins with a home study, which is a detailed written report covering your background, employment, health, finances, and a criminal background check. Domestic adoption also involves becoming matched with an expectant mother. Some agencies assist you in this process by showing your adoption profile to expectant birth mothers, while others expect you to connect with birth parents on your own.
Adoption.com offers a helpful service for parents who are searching for a match. Parent Profiles helps hopeful adoptive parents to become connected with birth parents online by providing a virtual space for birth parents to see your profile information.
A birth parent match, however, has no legal bearing until the birth mother signs consent forms after the baby is born. In Indiana, the birth father can sign consent forms before or after the birth of a baby, up to 30 days. Additionally, Indiana has a putative father registry to notify men that an adoption has been filed. Birth fathers have up to 30 days after the birth of a child or by the date of the filing of the adoption petition to register.
Once consent forms are signed, the baby will be placed in your home and you will pursue finalization of your adoption through the courts.
Pursuing International Adoption in Indiana
International adoption involves adopting a child from another country outside of the United States. Often times, these children are older than infants and may reside in an orphanage or foster home arrangement. This process begins with a home study.
There are some specific forms that you will need to fill out for your international adoption as you prepare a dossier for your adoption. Your adoption agency will ensure that your dossier has all the required paperwork that will be sent to the country you’re adopting from. Since every country’s adoption laws are different, you will want to find out the requirements for your specific country. Also, remember that some countries require travel to pick up your child and to finalize your adoption in that country.
Adoption agencies who perform international adoptions need to meet the requirements for the Universal Accreditation Act which mandates specific federal requirements for international adoptions. You’ll also need to fill out the required paperwork from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, also known as BCIS. Even if your child’s adoption is finalized in their home country, you may want to re-finalize it when you come home to Indiana.
Foster adoption is the process of adopting a child out of the foster system. Keep in mind as you adopt from the foster care system that the goal of foster care is reunification with biological parents. So in some cases, there is a legal risk when you bring a child into your home before their parental rights have been relinquished.
If you plan on adopting a waiting child that means their parental rights have already been relinquished and they are available for adoption. Often times, these children are older, may be part of a sibling group that wants to stay together, or may have special needs. Typically children in the foster care system range in age from 2 to 18 years old.
In order to adopt from the foster care system, you will need to become licensed as a foster parent and go through the legal requirements for licensure, which typically includes 10 pre-service training hours. These training hours will help prepare you to have a child in your home who may have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. These classes will give you the tools for parenting as this child heals from their past and learns to adapt to their new home environment. Except for waiting children, who’ve already had their parental rights relinquished, many foster adoptions take longer as you wait for the parental rights to be terminated.
Requirements for Adoptive Parents in Indiana
Adoptive parents in Indiana must be at least 21 years old to adopt. You can be single or married and will need to pass a background check. The checks include an FBI fingerprint, a child abuse and neglect check, a local police check, and a sex offender check.
Many different types of people adopt in Indiana, including people of all races, ethnicities, religions, marital statuses, and sexual orientations. You do not have to own a house to adopt, as long as you can prove that you have room for a child in your home. You can work outside the home and will need to show that you have sufficient income to support another member of your family. You also need to show that your health is adequate to care for a child.
Home Studies in Indiana
Adoption agencies in Indiana typically provide home studies for adoptive parents. These home studies cover a diverse group of topics all related to your family, history, employment, background, home, and finances. In Indiana, a licensed child-placing agency or the Office of Family and Children must complete your study.
As stated before, your background check is required as part of your adoption process. You will also need to set up a physical with your doctor. A licensed caseworker will help you through the process of the home study, which includes paperwork, a home visit, references, and referrals. They will also conduct a family interview with each member of your family. Caseworkers will primarily be looking to see that your home is safe and that you can care for another child. Parental rights need to be terminated in order for a child to be placed in your home in Indiana. For Indiana residents, this can only happen after consent forms have been signed.
Adopting a Child Over State Lines
If you’re adopting a child over the Indiana state line, you will need to ensure that you understand the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or ICPC. This federal requirement governs the process of moving children who’ve been placed in foster or adoptive homes that are outside their home state. Your adoption agency should assist you in meeting these requirements.
Fees for Adoption Agencies in Indiana
Adoption fees range widely depending on the adoption agency and the services they provide. Domestic adoption typically varies from $8000-$40,000 or more and usually includes your home study and post-placement fees. Attorney fees for your finalization are a separate cost outside of your agency fees. Additional fees include your background check and fingerprinting, as well as medical exams for your health referral.
Indiana law allows for birth parent expenses to be covered by the adoptive parents up to six weeks after birth. Birth mother expenses are capped at $3,000. Typically these expenses may only cover medical appointments related to pregnancy as well as living expenses. Be sure to inform your adoption agency before providing birth parent expenses so they can help ensure that you’re following the law.
The cost of foster adoption is significantly less and many of the fees will be reimbursed by the state. International costs vary significantly depending on the country you are adopting from as well as whether you have to travel to that country. Travel fees are a separate fee from the adoption agency and country fees.
Adoption Agencies in Indiana
There are dozens of adoption agencies to choose from in the state of Indiana. Look at the Indiana state directory for licensed child-placing agencies and to find out their fees and what types of adoptions they offer.
In addition, check our website to find specific adoption agencies in Indiana, as well as whether other adoptive parents have used these agencies and left a review. Contact the adoption agency directly with questions you may have.
If you need support during the adoption process, be sure to check out our parent forum to ask questions, get advice, and find your community.