What Are the Stages of the Adoption Process

The adoption process, as a whole, can be daunting. It is hard to know where to start after deciding that you would like to pursue adoption. While every adoption journey is different, it is essential to understand the overall steps that many adoptive families take. Learn more about the stages of the adoption process and what steps you need to take to bring home your child.

1. Decide to Adopt

Although this is often the first step to the adoption process, checking this stage off the list often takes years to do. Adoption is a unique undertaking that isn’t right for everyone. It can bring up hurts from your past as well as introduce many new challenges into your life. However, deciding to adopt, or even thinking about adoption, is a good indicator that you are serious about this decision and didn’t come to it on a whim.

It is important to note that not everyone who decides to adopt has the opportunity to do so. The adoption process can get messy and complicated, and some families experience failed adoptions. However, choosing to adopt is the first step to bringing home a child.

2. Choose Your Location

Adopted children come from either domestic, those children who were born in America, or international locations. Choosing what kind of adoption you would like is the next step in the adoption process. While you can choose either or both locations, most agencies only specialize in one or the other. Research the pros and cons of domestic and international adoptions to select the one that will best suit your family.

3. Decide Between Private or Public

While all international adoptions are usually completed through a private international agency, there are a few different ways to adopt a child domestically. You can choose to use the public child welfare system within your state to adopt or foster to adopt. Private adoption agencies are also an option when wanting to match with and adopt a newborn. Again, there are advantages to both options when it comes to choosing the right adoptive path for your family. 

Some adoptions within the United States are also privately matched. This means that the birth family and the adoptive family know each other and have agreed to the adoption. Privately matched adoptions don’t usually include a public or private agency but instead use a private adoption lawyer to legalize the adoption.

4. Select Your Agency

International adoptions have different agencies that those who offer domestic adoptions within your state or country. When choosing an agency to work with, it is important to research a lot of them and narrow down your choice to a select few. Check reviews, ask friends and family, and even try contacting other adoptive families who have used the agency in the past. Once selected, set up an appointment with the agency to learn more about them and how they can help you grow your family.

5. Complete a Homestudy

The home study process is one of the most time-consuming parts of adoption. There is so much paperwork to complete, and organizing everything can be stressful. Homes may need to be updated or changed due to the laws within your state. Completing the home study is vital to successful adoption, no matter what path you choose.

6. Match with a Child

One of the most exciting parts of adoption is matching with a child. Whether this is through the birth parent themselves, or through an agency, seeing a picture of your child for the first time is indescribable. Matching with a child is a crucial part of the adoption process, but some matches can fail. Understanding that matching with a child is different from a finalized adoption is critical during the adoption process.

7. Bring the Child Home

Many states allow you to take temporary custody of a child towards the end of the adoption process. There is always a waiting period before the adoption is finalized, though. This waiting period allows both the birth and adoptive parents to see if this is really what they want to do.

8. Finalize the Adoption

The finalization of the adoption happens after the waiting period is over, and all of the correct documents are submitted to the court. Finalization can happen quickly or months down the road. Your child is not officially and legally yours until the adoption is finalized. 

It can be hard to open yourself up to the process of adoption. It is a journey that will have complications but also a lot of joy as well. Understanding the adoption process is vital to keeping on track and knowing what needs to be done to finalize the adoption. The adoption process may be long, but it is all worth it when you bring your child home forever.