Just as it takes desire, direct action, and a bit of fumbling around in the dark to make a baby the old fashioned way, adoption requires a lot of the same… only different. Here’s adoption in a nutshell.

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

Step One: Deciding to Adopt

Whether you’ve known since kindergarten that you wanted to adopt a child, or came to the decision after years of trying to conceive, it’s the commitment to building your family this way that counts in this nutshell.

Step Two: Gathering Info

Browsing articles on Adoption.com and Adoption.org is a good start. Education is vital, so keep reading. Join forums and learn from those who’ve gone before you.

Step Three: Family Consensus

The adoption tune must be sung harmoniously by the whole choir (in other words, the entire family has to be on board with the idea of adoption), so hand out the words and see who sings along. Anyone tone deaf may need gentle coaching, so be sure you have the tools for this.

Step Four: Who Will Fit?

Infant? Toddler? Older child? Same race? Different race? Special needs? Domestic? International? It’s your family you’re thinking about building, so you’ll need to think about the size, shape, and needs of your new addition.

Step Five: Professional Help

Say that you’ve decided on a U.S. Domestic Infant Adoption; now you have to decide what kind of service you will adopt through. Will you go through an agency? Adopt independently (with an attorney)? Use a facilitator? A combination?

Step Six: Paperwork

Whatever your decision about professionals, it is time to begin collecting documents. Gather together all of your legal documents and vaccinations. You’ll need to be fingerprinted and prove that you have no serious criminal record.

Step Seven: The Home Study

If you’re planning on working with an agency, you may be able to schedule your home study with them. Independent adopters will need to find someone to conduct this, and your attorney could have some insight. Whoever you have, they will add to the above list with more necessary documents and duties.

Step Eight: 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 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.

Step Nine: Adjusting to the Possibilities

With a match made, this is where you take some of the time and energy you’re spending on frantic preparation and wild excitement to remind yourself that there are three notes in the adoption triad, and all are equally important. Whatever your relationship is to be with the woman who is planning to place her child with you, respect for the fact that she will always be your child’s birth mother after the adoption must start building now.

Step Ten: The Wait

Your adoption journey (nutshell version) will now become that much more challenging. Much like gestation, the process takes time. Unlike gestation, you don’t get to pack the baby around with you while you’re waiting. No words of comfort at this time help. It’s just plain torture…even worse than the wait for a match, and that’s saying something.

Step Eleven: The Worry

Many things can go wrong. You’ll dwell on all of them much more than is healthy.

Step Eleven: The Baby

Congratulations! And, as they say with the labor and delivery it takes to make a baby from scratch, once it’s over you forget about the pain.

Many more details could expound on this nutshell guide. Don’t hesitate to research more and ask tons of questions. Anyone who understands the beauty of adoption will be more than happy to help you along.

Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.