The domestic private adoption process involves many steps before an adoptive family can bring home their child and settle in to life together. The process can be complex, and the details may vary from state-to-state and agency-to-agency, but there are basic steps that most adoptions follow:
All adoption agencies are not alike. It’s essential to explore many options before choosing one. Cost is definitely a factor, but consider things like how many LGBTQ placements the agency has made and how welcome the agency makes you feel. Visit our Choosing an Adoption Agency page [hyperlink to choosing an adoption agency page] for information and resources to find an agency right for you.
This step may actually feel like a thousand steps. You will complete an exhaustive amount of paperwork, questionnaires, interviews and a home study.
The agency will work with you to define your preferences, including post adoption communication with the birth parents. They will also make sure that you meet the requirements to become adoptive parents. Although the requirements to adopt vary depending on the agency and state laws, they may include criteria such as: age, medical and emotional health, criminal background, financial stability, state residency, marital status and more. Some agencies may also require that you attend parenting education. (For more information on navigating state laws specific to LGBTQ adoptions, visit our Navigating Adoption Laws page.
What is a Home Study? – A home study is required in every type of adoption and is an in-depth look into your lives to ensure that you are fit to become parents. Led by a social worker or someone licensed to perform the study, a home study determines your eligibility to become adoptive parents. It will include interviews with you and others living in your home as well as a home inspection. A successful home study results in approval for an adoption to move forward.
A profile is something you create to connect with expectant parents to share with them your lifestyle, interests and philosophies on parenting and adoption. It usually includes a letter and photographs or video. Basically, it’s a way for parent considering adoption for their babies to learn more about you.
The waiting period can be difficult. How long it takes to be matched with a child is difficult to predict and could take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Many factors affect the wait time, including your preferences, location and the type of adoption you have chosen.
Once a prospective birth mother selects your family based on your profile, you will be involved in an “adoption opportunity.” For the adoption to proceed, both the birth parents and the adoptive parents must agree on an adoption plan.
It’s common for birth parents to want to get to know the adoptive family better. There is a wide range of communications from phone calls and email exchanges to in person meetings. Many adoptive families travel to the hospital where the birth takes place and interact with the birth parents upon placement.
Once you bring your child home, your agency (or attorney) will begin the process of petitioning the court for your adoption. It can take anywhere from 1-18 months for an adoption to become finalized. What happens during this post-placement period?
The amount and method of post-placement contact will vary depending on the preferences of the birth parents and the adoptive family. Commonly, most birth parents are interested in receiving picture and letter updates and most adoption agencies encourage this correspondence.