What are the stages of the adoption process?

edited March 27 in New to Adopting
What are the stages of the adoption process?

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  • Answer ✓
    The stages of the adoption process really depend on if you are doing an international or a private US adoption. For both you will want to find an agency first off--here's a great guide on questions to ask prospective agencies--and from there you will start filling out forms and getting things like physicals, psych evaluations, and financial records in order to show the agency as part of the home study process. You will also have multiple interviews in your home to make sure that your life is safe and your home is secure. After that, the process differs between international and US adoptions a bit. 

    International adoptions can vary depending on country and agency in how children are matched with prospective parents. Some agencies choose the child for you, and others allow you to request children that are ready for adoption. But once you are "matched" in an international adoption the country begins the process of approving and authorizing your adoption. This can take weeks or it can take months. After all of your paperwork and documents are approved then it will be time to travel to the country to collect your child and start your family! 

    For US adoptions, 99% of the time after you are home study approved the agency will begin to show your portfolio (or your video or your website) to expecting parents. Those parents choose where their baby will go, and so there isn't really a timeline that you can depend on--but your agency will let you know when you have been selected. Many hopeful adoptive families end up meeting with the expectant parents at least once, and some have a lot of contact before the baby is born. (Here's a great article about one birth mother's experience with this.)Once the baby arrives, the final stage is placement, where the birth parents sign custodial rights over to the expectant parents, and then finalization, where you become the legal parents of the child. 


  • Hello Lita,
    When we adopted domestically, we went through the following stages:

    1) Informational Meetings - Many adoption agencies have meetings potential adoptive parents can attend to find out more about the agency, the process and the available programs. My husband and I went to a couple of these before selecting an agency. If the agency you're interested in doesn't host informational meetings, you can always set up a private meeting for you and/or your spouse to ask questions and find out more. After meeting with agencies, you'll have a good idea which one is the right fit for you.

    2) Application Process
    - We filled out paperwork and submitted it to the adoption agency we chose to work with, along with an application fee. Items typically needed include employment info, financial details (assets, debts, credit card balances, mortgage and loan balances), physicals from family doctor, background checks, and references.

    3) Home Study - A licensed social worker will come to your home a few times to make sure you are ready and able to care for a child. During the home study, you'll fill out required legal forms, ask questions about the process, etc. You'll also create an expectant parent letter/profile for the agency to show those who are considering placing their babies for adoption.

    4) Waiting Period - After your home study is approved, you will wait to be matched with an expectant parent. This can take some time. We waited about 2 years. In most cases, the expectant parent will choose you from a book or website with other waiting families. Once you are matched, you wait for the baby to be born before proceeding with the adoption.

    5) Placement - If all goes well, you will take your baby home from the hospital. Depending on which state you live in, there may be a waiting period before the birth parents sign relinquishment papers. In that case, you will be appointed temporary guardians or foster parents and the birth parents will still retain their parental rights until they sign their paperwork. During this time, they can change their minds about the adoption. In Michigan, we waited approximately 6 weeks before our daughter's birth parents went to court to terminate their rights. 

    6) Post-Placement - After your child comes home, you will have a series of visits in your home with a social worker to make sure you and your child are adjusting and doing well. These reports will be submitted to the court prior to finalization.

    7) Finalization - Once your post-placement period has ended, you will go to court to finalize the adoption. Many people call this day "Gotcha Day." I prefer to simply call it "Adoption Day." The judge will approve the adoption, and you will be issued a new birth certificate that lists you as the legal parents. You are now a forever family! 

    For more information on the adoption process, I recommend reading the following:

    How to Adopt a Child Guide
    Where to Start When Considering Adoption

    And here's an article if you are considering international adoption:

    5 Tips for Starting the International Adoption Process

    Best of luck!

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