Whatever your reasons for adoption may be, know that you are in store for a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. With that in mind, the act of adoption is very complicated, and the process will take some time. You will need to go through many steps and hope for a little luck along the way. However, if you follow the program, then you have a good chance of welcoming a wonderful new child into your home. Below, we will give you some background about the process and the steps that you will need to follow to adopt a baby.
- You'll want to decide whether you want to adopt an infant from a foster home or as a newborn.
- Take your time when choosing an adoption agency. There are some scams out there, so be careful.
- Be aware that the adoption process is very lengthy, and is often quite expensive. You should be ready to commit a lot to this, but the rewards can be great!
How To Adopt a Baby in 6 Steps
Today, we will talk about the basic steps that you will need to follow to adopt a baby. There is a lot that goes into the process. If you have additional questions, then reach out to the adoption agency or your attorney.
Step 1: Consider Your Options
Before you reach out to any agencies or professionals, you need to take some time to put some deep thought into the adoption process. There are many considerations to keep in mind, including:
The Age of the Child
You will need to think about if you hope to adopt a newborn baby or an older child. Remember that you can legally adopt a child that is up to 18 years of age, so there are a lot of options. You will just need to look at your situation at home, how much time you have to care for a child, and if you are able to care for a kid that is already in school. When you choose to adopt, you have the choice of asking for a kid from a certain age group, including newborns. If you do try to choose a newborn, then know that the process and the waitlist will be longer.
Is Your Home Ready for You to Adopt a Child?
Once you apply for adoption, you will be subject to a home study. This is where a representative from the adoption agency will come to your house, ask you questions and inspect your property to ensure that it is safe for a child. Before you get to that point, you need to think about where you live. Make sure that it is suitable for another person to live under your roof. You will at least need to have an additional room for the child, and your property will need to be safe.
The Race of the Child
Just like with age, you have a choice to choose a child of a specific race. However, it is not a requirement. If you ask for a specific race, then know that the process will take longer. If you don’t make a preference and you have a child of a different race from your own, then you will want to make sure that you prepare to educate yourself on the many nuances of having an international family and what that might entail.
Choose Your Preferred Route of Adoption
If you decide to adopt a baby, then you will have a choice of options. The first is to adopt a child from a foster home. If you go this route, then you will be adopting a kid that is currently in the foster system. This will not be a newborn. If you go this route, then you will need to take classes and go through a detailed process that will ensure the adoption agency that you are ready for a child.
The other option is to adopt a newborn. If you go this way, then you will get everything settled before the baby is born, and once they are, then you will take over the parenting. You have two ways to go with this. You can go through an adoption agency or go private by hiring an adoption lawyer.
The option that you choose will depend on how old you hope the child will be and how involved you want to be in the adoption process.
Choose Where You Want to Adopt From
You can adopt a child from your home country or from a foreign country. Keep in mind that you aren't able to adopt a child from any country you want. For example, Americans are currently unable to adopt Russian children. If your country lacks a stable, diplomatic relationship with a country you wish to adopt from, chances are you won't be able to adopt from that country.
Keep in mind that adopting a child from a foreign country can take a lot longer than a domestic adoption, and it can be more expensive. You will need to make arrangements to travel to the country your adopted child is from. You may, however, find that there are more children available to adopt in certain countries versus certain others.
Step 2: Choose An Adoption Agency
Once you decide to move forward and you choose to go with an adoption agency, then you will need to choose the best option. Keep in mind that not every agency is equal. Although most agencies are legitimate, you will still need to ask a lot of questions. First, make sure that the agency has a state-license.
If they are, ask them how long they have been in business and their success rate up until this point. You should also inquire about the various programs and support services that they offer. Of course, you should also ask about the cost and about all of the various fees that you may have to pay along the way. In general, the average cost of domestic adoption is typically between $20,000 – $50,000, depending on your particular case.
Beware of Fraud
The reason that you should ask a lot of questions is that there are a fair share of scammers out there. There may be many adoption facilitators online, but they are not always legitimate. If you go with a smaller agency, then be sure to ask for references and check them out. Ask how they screen the birth parents and if they require proof of pregnancy.
Some people also skip the adoption agencies altogether and work with a private citizen or pregnant woman they meet along the way when they adopt a child. Many of these people are the real deal, but some are scammers. If you make an agreement, get it in writing. Also, be wary of mothers who have only been pregnant for a few months. That is because sometimes they may not realize the full scope of their situation, and they may change their mind about giving up their child down the line.
Step 3: Complete An Application
Once you find an adoption agency that has your best interests at heart, you will fill out an application with them. Remember that just because you want to adopt, it is still not a guarantee that you will get a child.
You will need to start by filling out an application to adopt a baby, and it will be an extremely detailed process. You'll need to provide numerous details that show that you are qualified to adopt a baby and bring them into your home. For instance, you will need to disclose your income and your expenses to show that you have enough money to care for a child. Part of that will be disclosing any loans and personal or business bankruptcies. Also, how much money you have in savings in the case of emergency childcare expenses.
If you choose to take out a loan or get a grant to pay for the child, then you'll want to disclose that as well.
Disclose Details of Your Past
In order to have a chance of adopting, your life has to be an open book. The adoption agency will ask about your employment history. They want to ensure that you can hold down a job and pay for your child. You will need to explain details such as if you plan to keep working once you adopt, if you will take maternity leave, what your work schedule will be, and more. Keep in mind that there technically is not a minimum amount of money that you need to make per year to adopt. However, you must verify that you will be able to afford to pay for the child.
The agency will also ask you about your religious denomination (if any). That is because some adoption agencies have a religious policy when it comes to the placement of children.
If you hope to adopt a baby with special needs, then you will also need to show that you have the ability to provide the proper care.
Step 4: Complete a Home Study
The application process will require a lot of details, but you are not done yet. The next step necessary to adopt a baby is the home study process. This can take three to six months to complete, and that is because the adoption agency will need to learn every single thing about you. They will also spend a lot of time ensuring that your home is suitable for a child.
It is a wise idea to prepare ahead of time and dig up all of the information you can. You will need to provide many details during this process, including:
- Medical History – You will need to document all of the major illnesses or surgeries you have had over the years. The point of this is to ensure that you are in good health so you can continue to care for a child over the years.
- Psychiatric Background – You will also need to document any emotional or psychiatric issues you have had in the past that may impact how you can care for a child. You need to be honest here because if you are not forthcoming, then the agency will probably find out.
- Criminal History – Everyone in your household will need to disclose any arrests or major brushes with the law that they have experienced over the years. You will need to disclose all jail stints, gang affiliations, and other major issues. If you have something in your past, then it is better to admit it now. By doing so, you can have a chance to explain how you learned from that incident. If you are not forthcoming, and the agency finds out, then it could majorly delay your potential adoption or cease it altogether.
- Child Abuse History – This one is a little more self-explanatory. If anyone in your house that is 18 years old or older has had a history of child abuse, then that may also delay the process.
- Personal Statement – Some agencies will ask you to submit a written history of your life. You will want to include specifics about your childhood, your views on discipline, your fears and likes, the reasons you want to adopt, and more. Like every other part of the home study, it is better to be honest on this form.
- Neighborhood Details – They will also ask you to describe the neighborhood that you live in now or where you plan to live when you adopt. Is it safe? Are there good schools? How well do you know your neighbors? Can you go to them in the case of an emergency? This information will help the social worker to make their final decision.
- References – Finally, the agency will ask for letters from personal references. These should be people that you know well and can speak to your personality and potential parenting style. You can go with friends, family, members of your religious circle, neighbors, or anyone else that you think will provide a positive impression.
The adoption agency will take all of the details that you provided into consideration. They will also go to your home and interview you and the people in your house at least once. During these sessions, they will ask you more questions. They will also take a walk around your home to ensure that there aren’t any obvious dangers. Your house should be in good shape and without any major damage so the social workers can verify that it is a safe place for a new child.
Step 5: Wait For A Child
If you go through the application and home study process and you are approved to adopt a child, then the next step is to wait. There is no set time that you can expect to wait. It can be months to years.
However, just because wait times are often long, it is important that you begin to prepare for a child as soon as you get the approval. If it is only going to be a couple of months then you need to start making the necessary modifications to be ready to adopt a child. Months can fly by, and you want to be ready as soon as you get the call. There are many things that you can do during this waiting time:
Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health
While you wait, it is important that you keep your life on the right track. Make sure that you are exercising and staying in shape, so you are ready when the baby arrives. You should also consider speaking to a professional therapist, as they can help you to stay mentally sharp. It is important because you may feel stress or anxiety during the waiting time, and you want to be in the right mind frame.
Stay Connected With the Adoption Agency
Your assigned social worker will likely stay in touch a lot during the home study process. However, once you get the approval, you may hear from them a bit less. However, you should try to reach out to them whenever you have questions or concerns. The social worker is there to help you, so don’t be afraid to reach out when necessary.
Join Adoption Support Groups
If you adopt a child from a foster home, then the agency may require you to take some classes to help you learn more about the process and how to properly welcome your adopted child when they join your family. Whether you take these classes or not, you should also consider joining an adoption support group in your community. The people there can help to put you at ease about the process, They can also help you deal with the wait time, and what to expect when you receive that call that your child is ready to come home to you.
Step 6: Placement
Once you have gone through the process and the baby is born, or the decision to adopt has been made, then the adoption agency will begin the placement paperwork. This process may take a bit of time. However, the good news is that once it is in motion, you will have physical custody of the child until the final piece of paperwork is signed. Once finalized, you will get an official birth certificate.
That is the process you will need to go through to adopt a child. The process can seem a bit daunting, but it is well worth it in the end. Once the adoption is finalized, you can begin your adventure of caring for the newest member of your family. Cherish this child and give them the love and respect they deserve. If you do decide to adopt a child, then we wish you the best.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Ridofranz.