If you’re like most people seriously considering adoption, you’re probably daunted by the road ahead of you. You’re dreaming of infant adoption but don’t know where to start, and you aren’t even quite sure where to turn for help. Just when you think you’ve finally decided to move ahead with the process, fear of attorneys, social workers, and mountains of paperwork stops you cold.
Friends and family try to be helpful, but what you need is a clear cut, step-by-step plan and guide to get you to where you need to be: a position of empowerment and confidence, well-prepared to make all your time spent dreaming of infant adoption time well spent.
There are six basic steps you will take to reach your goal:
1) Once you’ve decided to adopt, you will need to contact an adoption agency to get the process started. You can adopt through foster care, an agency in your state, or a national adoption center such as Lifetime.
2) Although the costs vary, almost 100% of adoptions have associated fees. To prepare yourself, create an adoption budget and have it ready to discuss with the agency of your choice. At a minimum, the budget should include attorney fees, agency fees, and home study fees.
3) The agency you choose will have you fill out an application and provide supporting documentation. You may be asked to answer questions about hobbies, finances, religious affiliation, and general interests, among other things.
4) You will then need to undergo a home study. Home studies are required by law in all states and the District of Columbia, no matter which type of adoption or agency you choose. This process can take quite a while—the average length of a home study is three to six months. You should be mentally and emotionally prepared to have someone in your home to “check you out,” and to answer personal questions about your past and present, your health, and your finances. Among other things, you will be asked about daily routines, parenting philosophies, and your emotional readiness to adopt. You will also be asked to provide a list of references to vouch for your suitability to be an adoptive parent.
5) While you’re spending your days dreaming of infant adoption, remember to take notes: You will need to provide a list of your hoped-for criteria to the agency you are working with. The agency will use this list to determine which situation best suits your needs, and which birth parents may be especially compatible with you. With centers such as Lifetime, the birth parent and prospective adoptive parents will be put directly in touch with one another.
6) Once a match has been made (for Lifetime, the average wait time for a match is three to twelve months), adoptive parents and child will begin their life together. Generally speaking, after the child has lived in the adoptive home for about six months, a recommendation will be filed with the court to finalize the adoption. You may need to attend a court hearing to make the adoption legally binding and complete.
It’s true that these six steps cannot begin to cover the emotional ins and outs of going through the adoption process. What they can do, however, is help you conquer fear of the unknown, and place you in a position of confidence and certainty, as you ready yourself and your home to welcome your dreamed-of child.