steps to adopting a child

8 Steps to Adopting a Child

If you’re thinking about starting a family or adding another child into your home, adoption is a loving and very possible option for your forever family. If you’re wondering about where to start and if adopting a child is right for you and your family, this article will provide the steps to adopting a child and more insights on the adoption process. 

Is Adoption Right For Me? 

Many important factors will come into play when choosing to adopt a child. Income, marital status, health-related issues, background checks, and living situations are the biggest topics and issues to be sure about when adopting a child. Try to think about just why you’d like to adopt a child and if you’re ready to adopt. Check out this article on why this family chose adoption.

Here are some great reasons why people have chosen to adopt:

  • to give a child a loving home
  • to expand their family
  • infertility issues
  • wanting to change a child’s life for the better
  • having great and selfless intentions of adopting a child
  • helping out a family member who’s lost custody of the child

Make sure to ask yourself if you’re ready to adopt, if you have a stable home that the adoptive child would love to grow up in, if can you financially support the child, and if you’re completely ready to make a permanent decision on adopting a child into your life.

Step 1: Deciding On What Adoption Path To Choose

Okay, so now that you’re sure you’re ready to adopt a child, it’s a good idea to start educating yourself and searching the web for tips, tricks, requirements, and roadblocks in the adoption process.

The first step to adopting a child is deciding what adoption path you’d like to take. There are several types of adoption options as well as different types of adoption.

Domestic infant adoption is the process of adopting a baby (specifically a newborn) from a birth mother from the United States of America. Read this article to learn more about what domestic adoption is.

An adoption agency facilitates the adoption and can help adoptive parents adopt a child by matching them with a child from the agency. They provide services for both the birth mother and adoptive parents. This is a great option if you don’t want to handle the adoption process on your own. Click on this article for more information about adoption agencies.

International adoption is a type of adoption where hopeful adoptive parents can adopt a child from another country outside of the United States. Here’s an informative article about the 11 things you should know about international adoption.

Independent adoptions are also known as open or private adoption, an independent adoption lets the birth parents and adoptive parents have an agreement on the adoption. Check out this educational article to learn some more about independent adoptions.

Foster care adoption occurs within the foster care social services and allows a child to either become adopted by their foster parents or leave foster care to become adopted into a forever family. Read this great article to learn about foster care adoption.

Open Adoption is a type of adoption that allows open communication between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child. The birth parents can receive pictures or letters about the child and may visit the home. There are many pros and cons to open adoption, but open adoption has been proven to be beneficial to everyone in the adoption triad. Here’s some more information on what open adoption is

A semi-open adoption is where little contact occurs between the adoptive and birth parents, and, usually, a third party is involved: the agency or adoption professional for instance. While the contact is kept at a minimum, semi-open adoptions can also be beneficial for the adopted child. Here’s a great article explaining semi-open-adoption.

A closed adoption occurs when the adoption is finalized and contact ceases between the birth parents and adoptive parents. In a sense, it’s a closure to adoption for the birth parents. In most cases, the adoptive and birth parents don’t have to meet one another. Here’s a great article about closed adoption.

Step 2: Getting Some Professional Help

The next step to adopting a child is to get some professional help. 

If you’re new to adopting a child, it’s a great idea to look for the counsel of either an adoption professional or an adoption attorney. Adoption professionals and attorneys will not only help you to adopt a child, but they’ll also help you with the legal processes, your state adoption laws, counseling, and educating you on adoption. 

Be sure to do your research on the cost, reviews, and services that adoption professionals and attorneys offer. While one adoption professional can be quite costly and not provide good services, another adoption professional or attorney may be affordable and can do the best they can with each service they provide. 

To better understand just how adoption professionals and agencies work, read this article on adoption agencies vs adoption attorneys

Step 3: Getting the Adoption Paperwork 

This next steps to adopting a child is to start the adoption paperwork. If this part seems highly overwhelming, reading this article can help make sense of the adoption paperwork. Please don’t hesitate to ask any of your questions to an adoption professional. 

While you’re probably focusing on the big picture of finally adopting your child, don’t forget to focus on the very important paperwork. The paperwork needed will be in the form of an application and might or might not have questionnaires for you to answer. There’s different requirements for an adoption, so make sure to do your research to see if you’re eligible to adopt a child. The paperwork would need to know your finances, employment history, background history, marriages and divorces, religious preferences, and other things. The state where you wish to adopt a child from and the agency, attorney or adoption professional will review your paperwork and see if you’ll be able to continue your adoption journey.

Step 4: Making An Adoption Plan, And A Adoption Profile

The next step in the adoption process is to begin your adoption plan. If you haven’t thought about it already, think of what type of child you’d like to adopt.

  • Would you like to adopt a baby or an older child?
  • What race would you like your adopted child to be? 
  • Would you be open to adopting siblings? 
  • Would you like to adopt a child that has a different culture than yours?
  • What age range would you like your adoptive child to be? 
  • Would you like to adopt a child with special needs?
  • Would you like to adopt a child that has been through a great deal of trauma?

Make an adoption profile by placing an ad in the newspaper, or if your working with an agency, make a family profile with the agency. While this is both an exciting and nerve-wracking process, you should have fun with it so the birth parents who’d like to place their child into your family can see the genuine adoptive family you are. The profile should include: 

  • your family bio. (check out these 5 tips to writing your family bio adoption profile)
  • pictures of you
  • your marriage
  • your hobbies and perhaps some pictures of you doing said hobbies
  • your occupations
  • some things about your neighborhood and community
  • something about the extended family members
  • pictures of your home
  • how you feel about adopting a child

For more information, read this encouraging article from a birth mother about writing your family profile and what was great for her to see on the family profiles.

Once your family profile is made, an adoption professional will help match you with a child that’s waiting to be adopted. 

Step 5: Getting Matched With a Child and Meeting the Birth Parents

This step to adopting a child is a great and important step because it means you’ve been matched with a child. So many feelings are rushing through your heart and mind and you probably feel ready to meet the birth parents. You or the adoption professional will set up a meeting place so that you and the birth parents can discuss your adoption plans and you will be able to both ask and listen to questions. While you might be overjoyed, it’s important to realize the birth parents might seem nervous to meet you. It’s good to assure them that you just would like to get to know them and about their child. If you’re not sure of what to ask, read up on this forum on questions to ask a birth mother

Step 6: The Home Study

This step to adopting a child can be an anxiety-ridden step, but there’s nothing to it. Once you’ve filled out the home study paperwork, an adoption social worker will come and inspect your home and ask you and the members of your household some questions. They want to absolutely make sure that the home is safe to bring a child into and to see if you’re fully prepared by asking questions about your background, health, relationships, finances, and other details about raising a family. Once the home study is finished, be prepared to wait quite a bit to see if you’ve passed. Although this step of the process is lengthy, it’s a very vital step for the adoption to take place.

The home study is a requirement for every adoption, and if you’re still feeling anxious, I hope this article guide about surviving your home study written by an adoption social worker and adoptive dad will help ease your mind. For even more information, read this article to prepare for the adoption home-study and the 10 things you need to know when preparing a home study. Also, look at this article about an international home study

Step 7: Waiting on the Arrival of your Child and Placement.

This step has to be the most anticipated of all of the steps to adopting a child. If you’re expecting a newborn, you’ll talk with the adoption professional and the birth parents about the hospital plan. Check out this article guide on hospital etiquette for the delivery of your adopted child

If you’re adopting an older child, you’ll get to visit them and will have them placed in your home for a short period of time before the adoption is finalized. This way, the child will become familiar with you and see you as their soon to be parents. It’s a great idea to know of your adoptive child’s likes and dislikes, and to help the child feel welcomed into your home. Read up this article about adopting an older child and on these 4 tips for transitioning older children into your home

Step 8: Finalization of Adoption

It’s the day that you’ve been waiting for since you’ve decided to adopt. The final step to adopting a child is the finalization. It’s very important to know your state’s adoption laws to be sure this will be an easy process for everyone involved. 

The hearing will occur in front of a judge and the judge will make sure all the proper paperwork and necessities are in order. So what is needed? 

  • The birth parents will need to sign away their rights to their child which will terminate their parental rights. 
  • The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Clearance (if your child is being adopted from another state to attend the adoption finalization) will be needed.
  • Post-placement visits (if open or semi-open adoption is agreed upon) will need to be defined. 

The hearing takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after you and your family and social worker are sworn into the courtroom. You’ll be asked to introduce yourself and let your intentions to adopt be known. You’ll be asked some questions about the adoption just to see if you’re fit to adopt. If you’re adopting an older child, he or she will be asked how they feel about being adopted. The judge will ask any more questions as needed, and once that’s all said and done, you’ll be able to get a family picture with your adopted child, and the judge concludes the hearing by signing the adoption papers. The adoption is now complete and you’ll be able to file for a new birth certificate for your child as well as their social security card. Feel free to ask the adoption attorney or professional what else is needed or if you have any other post-adoption questions about your adopted child.

Everyone’s adoption journey is different, but it’s important to get these steps in order before proceeding into adoption. For more information on the steps to adopting a child, read this guide on how to adopt a child. Remember to enjoy the process and think about how you’re going to change your adopted child’s life for the better just by being in your loving home.

Kandice Confer