I Want to Adopt. Now What?

Where does a person even start?

Sarah M. Baker May 26, 2015
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Are you hoping to grow your family through adoption? You have decided to adopt, but now what? Where does a person start?  It can be overwhelming, but very exciting! There are many different avenues for adoption, the three main categories being private domestic adoption, international adoption, and public/foster adoption. Determining which of these routes is best suited for you and your family is the first place to start. Once you have determined the type of adoption you wish to pursue, there are a few tips that will help you get things moving.

Private Domestic Adoption:  This is typically known as infant adoption, though children can be placed at any age by their biological parent(s). Private adoptions are usually completed through an agency, facilitator, or adoption lawyer. Depending on the situation, the match can be made through the professional or independently. Open adoption is typically encouraged in domestic adoptions. Read our Guide to Infant Adoption.

International Adoption:  There are a handful of countries that are open to international adoption by US families. The laws vary from country to country and so does the average age of the children. Open adoption is not always possible in international adoptions, but in some cases it can be achieved. Read our Guide to International Adoption.

Public Adoption:  Public adoption is a form of adoption through the foster care system. These children have typically been through trauma and the rights of their birth parents have been terminated or surrendered to allow them to be adopted into a forever home. The age of children available through public adoption varies greatly. Again, open adoption isn’t always a viable option, but it can happen. Read our Guide to Public Adoption. 

Each type of adoption requires special training, background checks, and home studies.  The full requirements vary country by country, state by state, county by county, and agency by agency.

Once you decide which type of adoption will be the best fit for your family, both financially and logistically, you will need to start thinking about other factors: age of the child, race of the child, disabilities, drug/alcohol exposure, etc.  You may find yourself fearful at first of the unknowns, but by doing research you may find that you are open to a lot more situations than you previously thought.

Open adoption can be a big hurdle for a lot of people new to considering adoption for their family. Since open adoption is a relatively new concept, unless you know someone in an open adoption relationship, it may feel very foreign to you and give you the impression that it could be co-parenting or a threat to your parenting. Open adoption relationships can sometimes have bumps in the road, but the relationships, knowledge, and emotional support it adds to your family and gives your child is a benefit that far outweighs any perceived risk. Selecting an agency that supports open adoption will help you with your education and understanding. Read our guide to Open Adoption.

The next step is to research agencies or adoption lawyers to find one that is a good fit.  Ask for referrals from people you know who have adopted or ask for opinions in an online adoption community. Read reviews on the professionals and ask a lot of questions when you meet with them. Pricing, policies, ethics, and placements can vary greatly between them, so don’t just settle for the first one you see in the phone book or find online. Read our Guide to Selecting an Adoption Agency.

Once you select the professional you want to work with, be prepared for tons of paperwork.  You will be busy taking classes, doing research, filling out forms, completing your home study, and creating your adoption profile. Some people also like to prepare for their new arrival by starting a registry or decorating a room. Others busy their time with vacations, picking up new hobbies, or learning more about adoption.

Now get ready . . . soon your family will grow and your child will be home!

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Sarah M. Baker

Sarah is a Staff Storyteller for Adoption.com and passionate about teaching others the power of open adoption. She is very active in the adoption community, where she spends a lot of time advocating as the founder of Heart For Open Adoption. She is the mom of two boys in addition to parenting her niece. She is a mother biologically and through domestic infant open adoption. Sarah promotes adoption education and ethical adoptions. She and her husband were featured on Season 2 of Oxygen’s “I’m Having Their Baby,” which tells the story of their first adoption match failing. Sarah hopes to bring her personal experience to you and help anyone who wants more information about adoption to find it with ease. Though it was once a taboo subject, Sarah hopes to make adoption something people are no longer afraid to talk about. You can learn more about Sarah and her family on her blog.


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