What Is All This Talk About Adoption Paperwork?

The struggle is real–there really is such a thing as adoption paperwork. And no matter how positive a person you may be, the obstacle course of following through (think certified, notarized, apostilled, and repeat), the inevitable mistakes that occur due to either human error or system flaws (“They told you to use that form? Well, you were misinformed.”), and the sometimes archaic rituals you find yourself following to take the paperwork from one level to the next (“We think it’s sitting on so-and-so’s desk, ma’am, but she had her gallbladder removed last night. Call back in a week.”) can wear even the most hopeful adoptive parent down during an already stressful and emotional time. No matter, adoption paperwork is not going to go away. So, you can either look at it as an unclimbable mountain, too difficult to scale or you can view it as a sort of puzzle paper trail rainbow leading you to where you want to be.

The good news is, you are not the first to have passed this way.

Your Path to Paperwork Success

Before you start on this paperwork journey, seek the help and services of your adoption facilitator, social worker, support group, and fellow adoptive family friends you trust. By fully understanding what will be coming your way and the proper order in which you should work your way through it, you will save yourself hours and possibly weeks doing things the right way the first time.

Organize, Organize, Organize

Get yourself a three-hole binder and be ready to fill it starting with a table of contents or checklist. Keep copies of everything. And using your table of contents or checklist, work your way through–filing everything as you go–replacing unsigned documents with signed ones along the way. Consider breaking up the information into sections that work for you. For example:

Note: Backing up your paperwork electronically is a great way to ensure you have everything organized and ready to print copies should the need arise.

Realistic Expectations

While adoption paperwork can seem confusing and overwhelming, especially when you’d rather be focusing your energy and time on your child, it’s part of the process. It’s important to do your research, set goals for yourself, and work with your support network to ensure these goals are on track and achievable. While you may want to pull an all-nighter or two to get ‘er done, consider instead carving out an hour a day to give yourself the time to take inventory of where you are in the process, make sure you’re filling out the forms accurately and completely (it’s not wise to tackle these things on no sleep), and be prepared to respond if and when an issue does arise. This may mean a slight change in your daily routine (including stepping out at work to run paperwork to the necessary places), but this too shall pass.

Stay connected to others who have either gone through the process and/or are going through it with you. It’s nice to share stories to remind you that you’re not the only one dealing with the dreaded adoption paperwork. Good luck! You got this!

“Somewhere over the rainbow

Bluebirds fly

And the dreams that you dreamed of

Dreams really do come true ooh oh”




Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.