You and your spouse have wanted to become parents for years and now you are considering adopting a child to make your parenthood dream come true. Yet the process seems a bit overwhelming. Where do you even start?
The adoption process is complicated and varies a bit based on your circumstances. So, here are the seven basic steps you’ll take when you want to adopt a child:
- Research your adoption options.
Do you want to adopt a child out of foster care? Have a domestic or international adoption? Adopt a baby or an older child? Use a licensed agency? Or pursue a private adoption through an attorney? Each of these decisions will impact your adoption process and how much adopting a child will cost.
- Choose an adoption agency.
If you’ve decided you want to use an adoption agency, you’ll need to choose which one you’ll work with. For international adoptions, you will need two agencies: a placing agency, which facilitates the adoption, and the home study agency. You also want to choose an agency you are comfortable with based on its integrity, ethics, adoption requirements and policies.
- Apply with your agency or for a specific program.
- Complete a home study.
During a home study, a caseworker will visit your home and interview you, your spouse and your family. The caseworker will be evaluating if your family can provide a healthy environment for an adopted child.
- Accept an adoption placement or referral.
If you are working with an agency, you may find out a birth parent has selected you as their child’s adoptive family. Or you may work with a case worker to determine what child may be the best match for you and your family. When you’ve received a placement or referral, you’ll then complete the necessary steps to move the adoption forward.
- Finalize your adoption.
You may need to work with an attorney if you face any roadblocks when completing your adoption. You’ll also need a judge to finalize your child’s adoption.
- Parent your child.
If you are adopting an older child, or even a baby, your child will need to adjust to living with your family and in a new environment. It can take time and patience, and maybe even additional help from a counselor if you are adopting a child who has special needs or was a victim of abuse or neglect.
Welcoming a child through adoption is an exciting life change. It may take months or years to complete though. By working through these steps, you’ll be better prepared to make this a reality and welcome an adopted child into your home.