Adoption may be the celebrity craze these days but you shouldn't let the trendiness deter you from this parenthood option. If you are interested in adopting a child to begin or add to your family, there are some things you should know. The process can be arduous and time consuming but is well worth the effort. Follow these steps to adopt.
- Research your options. There are several different types of adoptions. Children can be adopted from international centers or domestic agencies. Contact agencies such as the National Adoption Center for information about adoption, reference books and even stories of personal experiences shared by parents.
- Select an agency. Whether you want to adopt internationally or locally, there is an agency that could work for you. Contact several agencies in your local area first. Schedule an interview with each to discuss their policies, fee schedule, procedures, what type of children they handle, what assessments they require and how they help prepare families for adoption. Interview several before choosing an agency.
- Schedule a home study or home visit. In most states before you can begin to search for a child to adopt, you must be approved by the state or by the agency social worker. Work with your agency for how this process takes place as it varies according to local laws. Your home and family must be ready and capable of housing a child.
- Search for a child. Once you are approved by the social worker you can begin working with your agency to search for a child. Some agencies specialize in family groups of children while others specialize in infants or older children. In most cases, adopting an infant takes longer than adopting an older child or family group. By the time you begin your search you should have an idea of the family structure you are hoping for.
- Wait for matching and approval. The longest and most difficult step in the adoption process is the waiting period. This is the time when you express interest in a particular child and have to wait while that child's social worker is contacted and reviews your request. Finding the best adoption placement for a child is not as simple as having a potential parent pick the child's photo out of a database. The social worker must compare family situations and look for the best fit for the child, not for you, the potential parent.
- Meet with the child (or birth parents). If you are adopting a newborn, you may have visits with the birth parents but in most other cases you will meet with the child in their current foster situation and with their social worker. Again, the goal is to determine if you are a good fit for each other.
- Receive approval. The approval process is also a waiting game and may take many months of visits and review.
- Complete the paperwork and take the child home. Adoption paperwork often requires an attorney and mountains of paperwork. Be patient through this stage as your family is about to be realized. Once the paperwork if completed and filed with the courts, you will be able to take the child home and begin to live as a family. There are still more visits and reviews that have to happen but your family is now together.
Adoption can be a great gift for both parent and child. The process can be long and stressful but most adoptive parents will tell you that the struggle is well worth it.