When you look at the stories of American families, you'll find they are all different. Amazing families across the country often begin with an adoption journey.
If you are a hopeful parent waiting to adopt a baby in the U.S., you probably have a lot of questions. Some of the most common questions involve how the adoption process works. This brief guide will walk you through the steps involved in a domestic adoption journey.
Make Sure Adoption Is Right For You
It is important that you first consider if adoption is the right choice for your family. For many people who have struggled with infertility, adoption might seem like the next logical step.
At the same time, there is a lot of emotional pain that comes with infertility. You may need some time to recover, and this period of transition is normal. You must be emotionally committed to adoption before you move forward with the process.
Choose the Type of Adoption
What kind of adoption is right for your family? Many people already know what type of adoption they want before they do any research, but it is always a good idea to consider the pros and cons of each before you commit. For example, do you know that open adoption offers advantages for families and adopted children that closed adoption may not? Do you know that adopting an older child may help you become parents sooner than newborn adoption?
Each adoption agency offers different services as well, so you should discuss your options with each adoption professional before you make a final decision. You can learn more about Lifetime's services for hopeful parents here: What to Expect When You Adopt a Baby Through Lifetime.
Apply to Adopt & Begin the Adoption Process
Once you select an adoption professional to help you adopt a baby in the U.S., the next step is to apply for their program. If accepted, you will then become a waiting adoptive family and begin the adoption process. The initial steps in the process can take weeks or months, depending on how motivated you are. The more quickly that you turn in the needed paperwork and create your adoption profile, the quicker this initial process will take.
Your adoption professional will ask you to fill out some information that helps them determine what kind of child you want to adopt. This information will help you complete your adoption profile with the information a prospective birth mother will see. Your profile will also include photos and videos of your family.
In order to adopt a baby in the U.S., you'll need to get a home study. A social worker will complete background checks, collect information related to your medical and financial history, and conduct interviews with people who live in your home. The social worker also visits your home to ensure that you have created a safe environment for a child to live.
Become an Actively-Waiting Adoptive Family
The next step involves some waiting, especially if you are trying to adopt a newborn baby. In domestic infant adoption, the birth mother selects the adoptive family for her baby. The wait is difficult for some couples, but there's lots you can do to stay proactive as you wait for a birth mom to choose you. During this time, you may communicate with several women considering adoption for their children. You may participate in conference calls, emails, letters, and even meetings while you wait.
Once a prospective birth mother decides that you are the right choice to raise her baby, you can move forward with an adoption match. During your match, you'll keep in close contact with your adoption professional and with the birth mother who has chosen you. This time is an excellent opportunity to develop a relationship with the mother of your future child, one that will evolve over time.
Travel to the Hospital
If you want to adopt a baby in the U.S., you may have the opportunity to meet with the birth mother at the hospital when she goes into labor. If you live far away, you may not arrive at the hospital until after the baby has been born. The birth mother may have a specific hospital plan that involves you, or she may decide that she wants to spend some time with her baby before you meet for the first time. These are all things you can talk about together and with your Adoption Coordinator.
Complete the Adoption
The final step in adopting a baby in the U.S. is to complete the legal proceedings involved. The specific legal steps for finalization may depend on your state and the adoption agency you work with. Once the process is complete and you go to court, you have legal custody. Finalization is an exciting time because it is when the adopted child becomes an official member of your family!
Of course, once the adoption is complete, you will begin post-placement contact with the birth mother via pictures, letters, video calls, and perhaps even in-person meetings. Your journey is not over, but perhaps only just beginning as a family!