I want to preface this by saying that your journey may not be easy. It may take weeks, months or years. You may get picked by the first birth mom you present to, or it could take being presented to many birth moms before you’re chosen. The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is this – hold on. This is your journey and it’s weaving a beautiful “gotcha” story for your future family. One day, when you’re looking at that sweet child (or children) that hold your heart, your journey will be the story that helps explain just how large your love is for him/her/them – just how much they are wanted. One day that pain that you’re feeling before and during the process will become joy.
Your first step in this journey is to decide what type of adoption you would like to pursue. Are you wanting a domestic adoption or international? Once you know which you are going for, you’ll be able to narrow more things down to get closer to your “to do list”.
If you are deciding whether to adopt a child internationally, consider the ways in which international adoption differs from domestic adoption (adoption within the country):
Cost – The cost of an international adoption is less likely to vary, so you will probably know all of your expenses from the outset; domestic adoptions can have more variable costs. However, travel for international adoption is more expensive.
Medical History – In a domestic adoption, you will usually receive a fairly comprehensive medical history of the child. In international adoption, medical records are less commonplace, so you may be unaware of your child’s and his or her family’s medical backgrounds.
Contact with Birth Parents – Unlike in domestic adoption, it is rare for a birth family to remain involved in any way in an international adoption.
Child Development – Your child may be a little older and accustomed to a different language, and adjusting may take some time. You may also need to be prepared for any psychological issues your child has from previous living arrangements.
Adoption Through Foster Care
Today, there are more than 400,000 children being cared for in the U.S. foster care system. A child who is under the guardianship of the state may be eligible for adoption if parental rights have been terminated. Currently, more than 125,000 children in the U.S. have had parental rights terminated and are in need of the permanency of a family.
If you are the relative of a child in foster care, the child can usually be placed with you as long as you can adequately care for the child. This type of adoption is known as relative/kinship adoption.
Licensed, Private Adoption
Licensed, private placing agencies are subject to operational oversight and are required to meet state standards to ensure ethical practices.
When adopting through a licensed, private agency, the adoptive and birth families will each be represented by a social worker. The agency you choose will present your family profile to prospective birth families based on that agency’s specific procedures and policies.
Although the wait time for placement can range broadly, domestic adoption can offer the benefit of gaining important information about your child’s birth family history as well as a degree of openness in the adoption as agreed upon by both families.
Unlicensed agencies and facilitators are not subject to the same level of oversight. As a result, there may be more risks for families engaged in this process. Independent facilitators (i.e. adoption consultants or lawyers) aid in the process by conducting home studies, creating profiles for families, and sharing those profiles with multiple agencies.
In an independent adoption, the birth and adoptive parents have a prior connection and work through an attorney to facilitate the adoption directly. This type of adoption allows for the possibility of more extensive background information for the child.
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION PROCESS
Adopting a child from another country follows a few basic steps that are quite different from any other type of adoption:
Pick a country and provider – You will want to consider each country’s specific adoption laws and pick a Hague-accredited international adoption provider.
Complete International Home Study – Just like in a domestic adoption, you must complete a home study before you are officially eligible to adopt. You will also need to prepare your dossier
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – This will allow the country and the USCIS to evaluate and verify your eligibility. See more about documentation and Hague accreditation to learn about how to complete this.
Child referral – Once you are cleared to adopt and a child becomes available, your specialist will inform you of the situation. You will also get information on the child, but how much can vary. After that, you will usually have about 24 hours to accept or decline the referral.
Travel and Legalize– If you accept a referral, it’s time to travel. Depending on the country, the entire adoption could take place in the country of origin, or you may have to gain legal custody there and return home to complete the formal adoption process.
If you’re considering adoption, there’s probably one step you’re particularly anxious about: the home study. What is an adoption home study? What is it like? What happens during a home study? Will we pass? It’s normal to have questions and even to feel a little nervous. The whole adoption process can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
What is a Home Study?
Home studies are required for every adoption, whether it is international or domestic, private or foster care, infant or older child. This study is a basic overview of your life – including criminal background checks, your finances and even your personal relationships. It is used by the courts to assess if a stable environment exists for a family to receive a placement. Families are encouraged to begin the home study process as soon as possible, as this important step is often required by adoption professionals before they will begin the process of connecting a family with an expectant mother or child. It is also important to note that there are states, courts and adoption agencies that will only accept home studies from a licensed professional.
What Does a Home Study Consist Of?
What is involved in a home study can vary somewhat, but always involves several steps and quite a bit of paperwork. Often, a home study consists of the following and possibly more:
Gathering and submitting personal documents, like birth certificates and marriage licenses.
Each member of the adoptive household completing an interview with the home study worker.
Home visits with the social worker.
Background checks (such as child abuse clearances and criminal record checks)
Character references from people who know you
A home study involves submitting a lot of personal information, including health and financial records. This can feel invasive and frustrating, but it’s important to stay positive and flexible. If you are currently preparing for this process, make sure to consult a home study checklist and put yourself in the best position for success.
What Is a Home Study Like for Adoption?
Knowing what is involved in a home study, it’s normal to be a little nervous – but having an idea of exactly what to expect during this process can help put you at ease. The home study process is similar for everyone, but there will also be some unique differences depending on the details of your situation.
Step 1: Find an adoption home study provider in your area.
The home study process is conducted by a licensed social worker who is typically employed by a child-placing agency or other social work professional. The professional you choose can help prepare you for what to expect during a home study in your specific circumstances.
Step 2: Complete the home study application.
Most families receive an application and information packet from the agency they are working with. You will also begin filling out information that your social worker will need in order to complete the study. This is a good time to gather needed documentation such as medical records, tax records and proof of income that may be reviewed during this process.
Step 3: Meet with your assigned social worker for interviews and the home inspection.
After the application has been filed and the documentation has been reviewed, your social worker will conduct her/his in-home visits and interviews. The interviews are meant to help your social worker get to know you and understand your motivation to adopt. They will also assess things like your parenting style, adoption readiness and general personality. During the home inspection for adoption, the social worker will review your living situation to make sure it is safe for a child. Leading up to the in-home study, it’s helpful to baby-proof your house.
When we began our adoption journey the first thing I did was make sure that I had every single kid book on adoption I could find. I always knew I wanted an open adoption and I always knew that adoption wasn’t something that I wanted as a hidden secret, but a wonderful, amazing thing to be proud of. I knew that my words and explanations alone weren’t going to be impactful enough. Why? Well, in the words of my 8 year old, “You’re my mom, that’s why you’re saying that.” Below is a list of just some great books that we found for our collection:
01. Yes, I’m Adopted!
02. I Wished For You
03. And That’s Why She’s My Mama
04. I’ve Loved You Since Forever
05. God Found Us You
06. Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born
07. A Blessing From Above
Find more here!