How to Begin the Process of Adopting a Child
So, you have made the decision to consider adopting a child.
How to begin?
Adoption can seem like a very long and difficult process, but
if you educate yourself about it you can avoid many pitfalls and
mistakes that could delay and complicate your adoption proceedings.
Get Help From Adoption Agencies, Groups and Organizations
The first step is to learn where to start.
Adoptive parent support groups can be a real help here.
Many will often be willing to assist you.
You can also get information to help get you started from regional
adoption exchanges, local agencies, and state adoption program managers.
Also, do not overlook adoption preparation programs
offered by local community colleges, adoption exchanges, adoption
agencies, hospitals, religious groups, and other organizations.
Secondly, you must know and understand adoption law. State laws and
regulations govern U.S. adoptions and researching them is a must. In
many states, the process to adopt a stepchild is different from other
kinds of adoption, and this is just one of many possible legal
variables you may encounter.
Learn the laws that will apply to and affect your case.
Choose an Adoption Agency
You will have to select your adoption agency and explore your adoption options.
Will your adoption be domestic or intercountry ?
If you choose intercountry adoption, what country will your child come from?
If you adopt domestically, what type of adoption is best for your family?
Public agency, licensed private agency, independent, or
facilitated and unlicensed agency adoptions are all possibilities.
Complete a Home Study Adoption Program
Be prepared to complete a home study adoption program.
All prospective adoptive parents must go through a home study or family study program.
A home study program involves education, preparation, and gathering information about the
prospective adoptive parents.
Agencies and individuals want to know the children are going to be entering the best and most stable living
You should check with your state adoption program
to learn about the specific regulations where you live as states vary
regarding home study requirements.
Depending on agency waiting lists
and training requirements this process can take from 2 to 10 months to complete.
Be aware as well that intercountry adoption may carry
special home study requirements.
The Adoption Placement Process
Next you will actually engage in the placement process.
The way you begin this will depend upon which adoption choice you are pursuing.
For intercountry adoption, you may review information about your
prospective child and may have the opportunity to meet your child in
his or her placement setting.
If you are going the independent adoption
route a lawyer may help you identify expectant parents.
Or you may locate them on your own if allowed by state law.
If you are working through a licensed private agency, the expectant parents may select
your family from among several prospective adoptive families.
Again, there are many options to consider.
File the Legal Documents
As they say, no job is finished until the paperwork is done.
You will be required to file all necessary legal documents.
If you have chosen intercountry adoption, the actual adoption procedure is just one of a
series of required legal processes.
In addition to the laws of your
state, you must also follow the laws of the child's country of origin.
You will also have to satisfy U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
All domestic adoptions need to be finalized in court.
The process varies from state to state.
Generally a child must have lived with the adoptive family for at least 6 months before the
adoption can be legally finalized.
This is an important time which serves to insure proper placement for the child.
After this period you or your attorney can then file with the court to complete the