The Adoption Process: What to Expect and What to Avoid

First, if you and your significant other are considering adoption you should be commended and congratulated. Adopting a child can be a long process, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and one of the most generous things you can do with your life.

There are a lot of boxes to check and things to consider if you’re just beginning the process, and hopefully we can help you understand a little bit more about adoption.

The Process

  1. The first thing any potential adoptive parent should do is research adoption. There are countless books, websites and blogs all about adoption, with topics focusing on every aspect from the process itself to helping children adjust to a new household to dealing with discipline issues.
  2. Once you’ve put in a significant amount of time into research, truly understand the benefits and struggles of adoption and have decided that despite any struggles or difficulties, adoption is still a path you want to pursue, it’s time to start looking for an agency. This helpful website can assist in your search for local adoption agencies.
  3. Although some adoption agencies have slightly different processes, there are more similarities than differences. You will likely need to go through an orientation process which includes a meeting where you can learn more about the agency itself and the adoption process.
  4. You will likely be assigned a specific agency representative who will be your liaison throughout the process. They will want to collect relevant documentation for their records, such as birth and marriage certificates and personal references, to assist with background checking and verifying your ability to act as an adoptive parent.
  5. After orientation comes a series of meetings between you and your agency representative. At least one of these meetings will include a homestudy, wherein your agency representative will assess your readiness to parent. Most agencies won’t go through all your cupboards and check for dust behind TVs, but it’s still worth it to make your home look its best and ensure it is a safe and welcoming environment for a child.
  6. Once the agency has verified your ability to care for and parent a child, generally after the homestudy, you begin the actual child search. This may involve networking with other agencies to find an appropriate match or the agency may have children in their care already who would benefit from your parenting.
  7. The agency will then select for you a child that meets your criteria, but keep in mind several potential parents may also have been selected for the same child. At this point the adoption is not certain, but you will generally be provided with additional information about the child.
  8. Once you’ve been selected you will be given an opportunity to meet the child, and there will likely be several subsequent visits over the following weeks or months. If your child is out of state or out of the country the partner agency will likely arrange at least one or two meetings prior to adoption.
  9. After all that occurs and everyone feels happy and comfortable with the choice, the actual placement will happen, at which time the child will be moved into your home. This will be followed by a few months of post-placement supervision performed by your agency to ensure everything is going well. Once placement has occurred you can file official legal intent to adopt.
  10. Once the court hears your adoption petition the judge will finalize the legal adoption and you will be provided with an updated birth certificate naming you and your partner as the official parents, as well as a certificate of adoption.

Things to Keep in Mind to Avoid Complications

  1. Raising children is expensive. Your adoption agency will likely dig into your finances a bit to determine that you are, in fact, financially stable enough to raise a child. There are also significant fees involved throughout the adoption process, so it’s important to have liquid capital on hand to pay these fees. If you are working with a birth mother you may be responsible for her birth-related hospital and medical bills, which can also become pricey.
  2. There can be legal complications. A relatively common scenario is one in which the birth mother agrees to adoption but the birth father doesn’t know or hasn’t consented, which can cause significant legal problems. Legal issues can also occur if you’re adopting a child from another country, as there may be certain visa requirements or the country you’re adopting from may have their own unique rules and regulations governing the process.
  3. Sometimes the child’s history, especially medical history, is either not available or not entirely accurate. You may not discover until after the adoption that your adoptive child has developmental or health issues that could prove difficult or expensive to treat.
  4. If you read blogs about adoption you’ll find one of the most common struggles has to do with preexisting emotional trauma. With babies this is generally not an issue, as you’ll likely be the only parent they’ve ever known, but if you’re adopting an older child there’s a significant possibility they’ve had a less than ideal childhood up to this point. These children are most in need of a loving, safe and supportive home, but they can also prove to be challenging from a parenting perspective.

Are You Interested in Adoption?

At Darrow & Dietrich Law Offices we’re proud to have helped many loving parents find adoptive children to love and nurture. Family law isn’t always the happiest legal arena, but in the case of adoption it is certainly one of the most rewarding. If you’d like to learn more about adoption or you’re currently going through the adoption process and are approaching the point where you require an attorney’s assistance, please contact our adoption attorneys today.