It’s true what they say, babies really do change everything. Any parent of a newborn will tell you that you can say goodbye to life as you know it once that sweet bundle of joy is placed safely and snuggly into your waiting arms. Goodbye to me time. Goodbye to sleep. Goodbye to quiet (and warm) dinners. Goodbye to a clean house. Goodbye to last minute trips. Goodbye to relaxing mornings. Goodbye to leisurely weekends. Goodbye to last minute date nights. Goodbye to money in your wallet. You get the picture.
Still, there’s something about babies that makes many of us willing to drop all of the above and much more for the experience and opportunity to be part of a child’s life from those very first moments of her life. According to the Adoption.com article “Infants for Adoption,” there are currently more than two million couples and singles waiting to adopt in the United States.
Newborn adoption, more formally known as “domestic infant adoption,” according to Adoption.com’s “How To Adopt A Baby Guide,” is just one choice among many for hopeful parents looking to start or grow their family. In this article, we’ll discuss everything from how to get started to how to save for adoption to how to prepare for bringing home your bundle of joy.
The path to domestic infant adoption can sometimes prove more difficult than older child adoption due to the fact that so many people are interested in newborn adoption. This is despite the fact that there are so many older children waiting for placement in foster care. Prospective parents should not feel bad about their desire to adopt an infant. For those who have always wanted to experience raising a child from infancy, newborn adoption can feel like a natural fit. In truth, there are many hopeful parents who do not feel ready or prepared to adopt an older child, and there should be no shame in their decision. For others, newborn adoption is not a good fit as they have already experienced that phase of life and/or they feel called to parent an older child.
For those willing to undergo a longer wait time on the path to newborn adoption, there are several options available. Prospective parents should first be honest about their openness to adopting a child of either gender, of another race, or a child with medical needs. Being willing to broaden your search may result in a shorter wait time, but it’s important to feel comfortable with your decision as it will have a lifelong impact. Parents also can choose between private and public agency adoption, attorney adoption, foster to adopt, and international adoption. Each of these comes with pros and cons, but by doing your research and planning ahead, you will soon find yourself thick in the gnarled pathway that is the adoption journey.
How to Adopt a Baby
If newborn adoption is your choice, you should be prepared to follow these basic steps ahead of the actual process:
- Ask Yourself if You’re Ready to Become an Adoptive Parent. It is important to make sure you are emotionally prepared to become an adoptive mom or dad well before you worry about a home study, baby names, and nurseries. Although there are many similarities between adoptive and biological parenting, there are important and distinct differences as well. And just because you’re ready doesn’t mean your partner in crime is. Have you talked through this decision together to make sure it’s something you both want and are prepared for? The Adoption.com article, “What Makes Adoptive Parenting Different from Parenting a Biological Child?“ provides great information about adoption trauma, attachment, and possible triggers that may impact your family. This is in no way meant to scare potential parents away from adoption but to educate and prepare parents to better understand how they can best prepare for a newborn adoption.
- Do Your Research! Take the time to do your due diligence on what adoption will mean for your family and for your adopted child(ren). Don’t be afraid to discuss your plans with family and friends who will be along for this journey with you. It’s especially helpful to speak with other adoptive families who have been there and done that.
- Know the Requirements. Make sure that you meet newborn adoption requirements. For starters, you will need to select an agency and complete a home study. Click here for a listing of adoption information in your local area.
- Find the Support You’ll Need. You’re going to need support throughout the adoption process, but even more so once you complete your newborn adoption. Reach out to family and friends, other adoptive families, and adoption support groups (consider starting one if none exist in your area—you are not the only adoptive family out there). Although some families do go it alone, there are many benefits to having a strong support network in place from the start of your life as an adoptive family and for many years to come.
- Understand Adoption Fees. Whereas fostering to adopt can be low in cost, most other forms of adoption come with a slew of fees. The article, “Average Cost Of Adoption” runs through the basics of domestic, foster, and international adoption fees as well as resources available to hopeful parents. It’s important to note that, adoption aside, raising a child is not cheap! According to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610.
- Home Study. Undergoing the dreaded adoption home study can feel daunting and never ending with more paperwork than anyone should ever have to sort through; however, it also helps to pass the time on your journey to your little one!
- Prepare. There are many adjustments to be made when you bring a newborn into the home. While many experts will advise hopeful parents not to go to the extreme too far in advance of a match, it’s pretty hard to resist readying your home and yourself for an expected newborn. In addition to purchasing and organizing the essentials, you will want to babyproof your home, research pediatricians and specialists, and speak with family and friends about what they can expect and how they can best support your newborn adoption.
So now that you know the basics, you’ve done your research, and you’re ready to get things started, where should you begin?
Select your adoption agency. Selecting your agency is a big step and you should take your time to make sure you complete enough research and ask the right questions before making your decision. You can search adoption providers by state or service here.
Complete your home study. The idea of completing a home study can be nerve-wracking and slightly invasive, but in truth, it’s meant to be a bridge between potential adoptive parents and waiting children in order to determine the best possible fit for everyone involved. Yes, it involves piles of paperwork, personal questions, trips to the doctor and local government offices for fingerprinting and certifications and notarizations, but the endgame is one of ensuring the best possible outcome for you and your adopted child. The article, “What Does A Home Study Involve” provides a nice overview of what to expect as you prepare for adoption.
Complete your adoptive family profile. Adoption.com offers helpful information for parents in creating successful Parent Profiles.
Search for a child. In many cases, an agency or institution will take the lead in searching for an appropriate match, especially in the case of newborn adoption. In other cases, an adoptive family may already know of a birth mother who is considering placing her child for adoption. The article, “How Do I Find a Birth Mother to Adopt From?” offers suggestions and examples of different scenarios many hopeful parents should consider.
Wait to be matched. Although for many, up until now the adoption paperwork process has felt like a nightmare, the next step is even more difficult to process–waiting. For weeks or months, you’ve been busy running in all directions to work toward your adoption and now everything is sudden and with little fanfare out of your hands. In the Adoption.com article, “How Do I Overcome The Pain Of Waiting For An Adoption Match?” author and adoptive mom Stacey Stark walks you through her journey and offers advice to other hopeful adoptive parents who find themselves struggling with the pain of wondering if adoption will ever happen for them.
Finalize your adoption. Finally, your baby is in your arms and everything is right with your world—well, almost. There’s still the finalization process to go through. Finalization usually occurs between three months and a year after your child comes home and only happens after the birth parents’ revocation period has expired and your social worker has completed at least one post-placement visit.
An adoption may be finalized in the child’s birth state or in the adoptive parents’ state of residence. This applies to international adoptions as well (in most cases children must be “re-adopted” in the adoptive parents’ state of residence). It is advised to consult with an attorney, even if you have adopted through an agency to determine what sort of paperwork is necessary. In most cases, these cases are closed to the public and move very smoothly.
Families will also need to complete the following steps:
- Obtain your child’s birth certificate.
- Apply for a new Social Security card with your child’s new name.
- Add your child to your health insurance plan.
- Set up an appointment with your newborn’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
- Update your will and other accounts.
Become a Family!
Congratulations! You are now the excited (and extremely sleep deprived) parent of a newborn. Now the real joy and the real work begins as you settle into your home together and start the process of bonding and attachment as a family. As the Child Welfare Information Gateway states, “Adoption is a lifelong process.”
Your family will evolve and grow like any other with the additional implications of being a family through adoption. It will be important to note that you will want to continue to learn and research adoption. As your child grows so will your experiences and challenges as an adoptive family.
Newborn Adoption in the United States vs. Internationally
International adoption may seem like domestic adoption on steroids. In other words, while the two share many similar traits, international adoption requires additional paperwork, planning, and a bit more hoop-jumping before it’s over. Visit travel.state.gov for important information regarding the intercountry adoption process, including links to what you should know before you adopt, understanding The Hague Convention, how to adopt internationally, and the Immigrant Visa process.
How Much Does it Cost?
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, working with a private agency to adopt a healthy newborn or baby or to adopt from another country can cost somewhere between $5,000 to $40,000. Some agencies offer a sliding scale based on the prospective adoptive parent’s income.
However, adopting a foster child is virtually free with the biggest expense being the home study, which typically costs somewhere between $1,000 to $5,000, according to the website Consideringadoption.com. However, if the adoption is completed through an agency, then a family may be subject to required agency fees.
Adoption.com offers several guides and articles on the topic of affording adoption including the “Affording Adoption Guide” that provides tips and tricks and Adoption Loans to help you get qualified for a loan. Other resources on Adoption.com include wiki pages like Adoption Costs, Adoption Tax Credit, Adoption Grants, and Employer-Provided Adoption Benefits.
How Long Does Newborn Adoption Take?
The length of time, like the cost, varies with the type of child being adopted. Adopting a healthy infant can take anywhere from two to seven years. An adoption of a child with special needs often proceeds quickly and could be completed within a few months.
Are you interested in domestic infant adoption? Please visit Adoption.com’s How to Adopt a Baby Guide to get started!