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How Adoption Process Works and Your Options


Adoption is an option many couples explore. Whether you’re struggling with infertility or want to adopt a child for other reasons, you're probably wondering how to adopt. The process can seem overwhelming and intimidating if you don't know where to start. Use this primer to learn more about how to adopt to set your mind at ease.

Am I Eligible to Adopt?

Adoptions are regulated by the individual states. Some states require prospective parents to be 18, others 21, but if you are working with a private agency they may have their own requirements to be met. The most important factor is whether or not you can provide for the child and give him or her a stable and loving home. You do not have to own a home or be working outside the home to adopt. Adopters can be married, single, divorced, in a civil union, or living with their partner.

What Does Adoption Involve?

Adoption is the legal act of making a child a part of your family. Most children who are adopted in the U.S. have been in the care of foster homes and/or adoption agencies. You will need to identify adoption agencies in your area and submit applications to each agency. Agency staff will review the applications and determine whether or not you would make a suitable parent(s) and match you with a child. The agency will assist you throughout the adoption to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

an adopted child hugging his parents

Adoption in the U.S. can take a long time. Some adopters feel uncomfortable with the amount of scrutiny they and their lives receive during the process, but it is all done with the best interests of the child in mind. You will very likely have to submit medical records or undergo an exam/check-up, be subjected to home visits, and will probably have several in-depth interviews with the adoption agency as well as social workers involved in the case.

Although it is an emotional and trying time, remember that the agency is doing all of this to ensure the adoption is successful.

How to Adopt a Child

Getting started with the adoption process begins with contacting your local adoption agency. You can contact your state adoption or child welfare agency. These agencies can tell you all you need to know about adoption and help you find agencies in your state that can assist you with the process. A simple Internet search by state will also turn up several adoption agencies for your consideration.

Once you've selected an agency to work with, you'll receive information, meet agency staff, and even other parents who've adopted through the agency. You'll receive counseling on the adoption process and on dealing with abused or neglected children. If you feel that the agency is a good fit for you, the paperwork begins. You will fill out your application form and the agency will get to work finding the right child for your family.

Can I Expect Any Support?

YES! Adoption agencies and social service agencies want children placed in stable homes. That's one reason why the process can be so time-consuming. It's important to be comfortable with the agency you choose because they can give you support, guidance and insight before, during and after the adoption takes place.

What About International Adoption?

International adoption continues to grow. The process is somewhat similar to domestic adoption but can be even more time-consuming and comes with many additional issues that domestic adoptions don't have. You'll have to meet the adoption requirements of the country from which you're adopting as well as any U.S. requirements and your state requirements. To learn more about adoption from other countries, consult the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. They have excellent resources pertaining to international adoptions.

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