Many aspiring parents can identify with dreams of a home filled with happy laughter and the pitter-patter of little feet. Unfortunately, these dreams can sometimes be a little tricky to achieve due to unforeseen limitations, circumstances or issues. However, that's not to say they can't eventually be a reality if parents decide to go down the adoption route.
But, while it can be a beautiful and life-changing experience, the child adoption process can also be overwhelming and confusing for prospective parents. If you are new to the child adoption process, you might be wondering where to start, how it works, and if any eligibility criteria must be met.
Today's Piper Finn blog post briefly overviews the US child adoption process and what to expect while hopping through the proverbial hoops required to grow your family.
What is the Process of Adopting a Child?
As with most things in life, deciding to adopt a child isn't something that happens quickly. Instead, there are a number of steps to follow:
Step 1: Decide on the type of adoption and agency
Before you start the adoption process, you need to decide on the type of adoption that works best for you. There are different types of adoption, including:
- Independent adoption: Adoption via an intermediary rather than a licensed adoption agency.
- Foster-to-adopt: Children initially fostered by you with the expectation you will adopt them when they become legally free to be adopted.
- Foster care: Temporary care for children waiting to be adopted.
- Open adoption: Contact and information shared between birth parents, adoptive parents and adopted child.
- Closed adoption: No information is shared about or between the birth family and adoptive family or adopted child.
Each type of adoption has its own process, requirements, and timeline. We recommend you choose an agency that is reputable, licensed and experienced in your preferred adoption type. It's also a good idea to check the agency is prepared to walk you through the child adoption process step by step.
Step 2: Complete a home study
A home study is a thorough review of your home and life to determine if you are eligible to adopt a child. This process includes interviews, background checks, and visits to your home. The home study is mandatory for all types of adoption and typically takes 3-6 months to complete. Prepare yourself and your home before the home study, and be honest and open with the social worker about your circumstances.
Step 3: Create a profile and wait for a match
After completing the home study, the adoption agency will help you create a profile that describes your family, lifestyle, values, and preferences. The agency will use the profile to match you with a child or birth mother. The wait time for a match can vary depending on the type of adoption, your preferences, and the availability of children. Waiting for a potential adoption match can be challenging and emotional, but staying patient and positive is important.
Step 4: Finalize the adoption
Once matched with a child or birth mother, you will go through the finalization process, which includes legal procedures and paperwork. This process can take several months or even years, depending on the type of adoption and the state where you live. During this time, you should work with a lawyer or adoption professional to ensure the adoption is legal, ethical, and fair to all parties involved.
Step 5: Adjust to the new family dynamic
Bringing a new child into your family can be an exciting, rewarding, and challenging experience. Be prepared to adjust your routine, communication, and expectations to accommodate the new family dynamic. Depending on the age and background of the child, you might also need to provide extra support, resources, and love to help them feel safe and happy in their new home.
Unfortunately, adoption is not a quick-fix solution; it's a complex and deeply emotional process that requires patience, preparation, and dedication. Working with a reputable agency ensures you are in contact with professionals who can help you confidently navigate the adoption process. Finally, remember that adoption is not only about bringing a child into your family but also about becoming part of a community that values love, diversity, and compassion. We wish you all the best on your adoption journey!