Whether you have struggled with infertility, already have biological children and want to expand your family, or have the desire to make a difference in the life of a child in the foster care system, adoption can be a very rewarding option to consider.
Below you will find some general information about what the adoption process entails. The basic steps of the adoption process are as follows:
You will need to decide whether to adopt through a private or public agency. As you examine these options, you will discover there are advantages and disadvantages to each, so take your time and be thorough in your research. Christian Adoptions Alliance recommends vetting your agency from a Christian perspective to make certain they align with you and your beliefs.
The agency may invite you to attend an orientation. The information given at orientation is very valuable. They will discuss their process in detail as well as give you an opportunity to ask specific questions, obtain their fee schedule and meet other families considering adoption.
It is a good idea to attend more than one agency’s orientation to compare procedures and philosophies and get a sense of which agency you will be most comfortable working with. When the orientation is complete, you will leave with an application to complete and return with an application or registration fee.
After the agency has reviewed and accepted your application for adoption, you will need to complete a home study. The main goal of the home study is to evaluate the environment the child will be raised in and to help the adoptive parents prepare for parenting and the arrival of the child. There are several different ways to meet this state requirement. Your agency will advise you as to their preferred method.
The assessment will include one or more visits with a social worker, one of which will take place in your home, and possibly some educational classes with other adoptive families. You will also be required to have a physical exam, fingerprints, and a background check. The average time for completion of the home study is approximately two months.
The waiting period varies depending on several factors. If you are adopting a Caucasian newborn, many agencies have a waitlist of two to five years. This is due in part to the fact that adoptive parents and birth mothers are matched according to the requirements of both the adoptive parents and the birth mothers.
Adopting a child of another race may reduce the waiting period significantly. International adoptions may take a year or more depending on the requirements of the foreign country.
After the parental rights of the birth parents have been terminated; the child has been in the home for at least six months; the social worker has submitted a recommendation for approval; a judge will finalize the adoption by awarding the adoptive parents all legal rights and responsibilities.
This final step will vary with international adoptions as there are additional legal processes required, including those of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Department.