Not all adoptions are swift, but understanding the 7 steps for adopting a child can make the process less daunting for most domestic and international adopting couples. The procedure is often not as scary, expensive, or time-consuming as they anticipate. Susan Caughman of Adoptive Families magazine asserts, “There are numerous myths about adoption that may discourage families from contemplating it.
We broke it down step-by-step to demystify the adoption process for parents considering adopting a child for the first time. In addition to the processes outlined below, other steps may be required (depending on your requirements, those of the kid, and those of the birth parents), but in general, these are the steps you must take to adopt a child:
Step 1: Conduct research.
Join a community support group and begin networking with other adoptive parents. Here are the most important questions you will need to address immediately for your family:
Do you wish to adopt a baby or a child of a certain age?
Do you desire domestic or international adoption? To what extent are you open to adopting a child of a different race? (Most children adopted overseas are at least a year old.)
Step 2: Determine with whom you wish to collaborate.
Agencies and attorneys assist potential parents in meeting legal criteria, such as drafting needed documents and doing a home study, which is a social worker’s review of your home life and background.
For domestic adoptions, both adoption agencies and attorneys screen prospective birth parents and represent both parties. The most notable distinction between agencies and attorneys is how they locate birth parents.
Pregnant women who wish to place their children for adoption visit adoption agencies, while attorneys and their clients typically advertise and network to locate birth parents. (Different state regulations govern who may post advertisements.)
Most foreign adoptions are handled by agencies. You have the option between private and public agencies when it comes to agencies. Before making a final decision, you should extensively study your options. Make careful inquire about the fees and payment plan of the agency.
Consult with several agencies and attorneys to determine with whom you feel most comfortable.
Step 3: Select an adoption agency or attorney.
The former president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Mark McDermott, says that an adoption attorney needs to be an expert who has dealt with many adoptions.
Make sure the agency is state-licensed and ask a lot of questions when reviewing it. Here are several crucial questions to include:
- How long have you been in operation?
- What services and programs does it provide?
- What are the various fees, and when do they become payable?
- How varied are the agency’s service offerings? For instance, if adoption from one country is suddenly forbidden, as was the case in 2003 with Vietnam, does the agency have resources in other nations?
Be wary of adoption fraud!
Although adoption scammers are not typical, they are hardly rare. Ana and Johnny Strickland learned this the hard way after searching online for an adoption facilitator. She introduced the Stricklands to two phony birth parents and charged them $3,000 for “living expenses.” Here are the following rules for self-protection:
- Be aware of unlicensed intermediaries who guarantee to find you a child. They are not adequately regulated and are illegal in numerous states. Verify their references thoroughly.
- Ask agencies how they screen potential birth parents. Is pregnancy documentation required? Will the biological father’s rights be terminated?
- An instant request for money from a birth parent should raise warning flags. There are many birth parents in need of assistance, but any financial dealings with them must be handled by a reputable agency or an attorney familiar with the laws governing such matters in your state. (Ensure that the agency or lawyer is licensed in accordance with state law.)
- Work with caution with women who have been pregnant for only a few months. They are more prone to change their views since they may not have had the time to consider the ramifications of adopting a kid.
- Check internet forums such as the Child Welfare Information Gateway frequently, as its members are likely to report fraud.
Step 4: Complete the application and home evaluation.
When you contact an organization, you may be requested to attend an orientation session offered by the agency. You and the other applicants will receive application forms and learn about the agency’s procedures and available children. The agency will evaluate your application to determine if you will be accepted as a client. Upon acceptance, you will likely be required to pay a registration fee.
The preplacement inquiry, often known as the “home study” or “family evaluation,” follows. The home study (mandated by state law) analyzes you as an adoptive family candidate and the physical and emotional setting where the kid would be placed. Additionally, it is a preparation for adoptive parenting. A social worker will conduct a series of interviews with you, including at least one in your home.
During this procedure, the social worker will assist you in evaluating all elements of adoptive parenthood and determining the type of kid you choose to adopt. Some agencies use a group approach for the educational portion of the adoption preparation process, thereby developing a support network among adoptive families.
Step 5: Be ready to wait.
A waiting period is always required for adopting a kid. However, the timeline might vary depending on circumstances such as the age of potential parents, the family structure, and state legal requirements.
International adoption is typically more predictable than domestic adoption, in part because domestic adoptions might be delayed if a birth parent changes their mind or takes a long time to select adoptive parents.
You should consult with your agency or attorney to determine how long your family will be required to wait for the adoption process to be completed. Since every situation is different, the timetable may depend on factors such as your personal preferences, those of your intended parent, and the laws of your state.
Step 6: Complete the required legal procedures.
After a child has been placed in your care, you must meet the legal conditions for adoption. You may need to engage an attorney if you have elected to use an agency.
Before the adoption is legally finalized, a child typically resides with the adoptive family for at least six months, but this duration varies by state law. Before the adoption is finalized, the agency will offer these services.
The social worker may visit the child multiple times to confirm that he or she is well cared for and to complete the necessary court records. Following this time frame, the agency will submit a written recommendation of adoption approval to the court. The adoption can then be filed with the court by you or your attorney.
The finalization of foreign adoptions depends on the visa the child has and your state’s legislation. The actual adoption procedure is only one of a number of essential legal procedures for international adoption. You must also meet the standards of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service before you may naturalize your child as a United States citizen.
Step 7: Prepare your residence.
As soon as it becomes apparent that a kid will be joining your family, you should prepare your home for their arrival. What you purchase and how you arrange your child’s area will be determined by their age and requirements. For instance, are you assembling a crib or toddler bed?
You’ll need many things to prepare for your child’s arrival. Here are some suggestions:
- A car seat and travel accessories.
- Including diapers, if your child is a baby, clothing is a necessity.
- Stock your pantry with food.
- Safety equipment includes baby gates and cabinet locks, etc.
- Fill your medicine cabinet.
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