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.

Although every family is unique in their adoption, there are steps to the process, and 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.

Step Two: Gathering info

Since you’re reading this, you’re off to 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 US 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: birth certificates, marriage licenses, tax returns and financial statements. Make appointments for physicals, as you’ll need proof of fitness to parent and a valid TB test. You’ll need to be fingerprinted and prove that you have no serious criminal record.

Step Seven: The Home Study

If you’re going with an agency, they will arrange your home study. Independent adopters will need to find someone to conduct this, and your attorney may have recommendations. 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 first mother must start building now.

Step Ten: The Wait

This is by far the hardest of all the steps on the adoption journey. 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

There are many things that 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.