The Easy, Peasy Step-by-Step Guide to Adoption
I almost laughed out loud when I titled this “easy peasy” because adoption is far, far from that. So, please, let me clarify. When we decided to adopt, I knew nothing about the process. I was completely inundated and discouraged by all the things that Google told me. When you search “how to adopt”, Google comes back with 111,000,000 results. Amongst these are paid ads, agencies, attorneys, blogs, reviews. I yearned to find a quick list to guide me and ease my type A personality that prefers to control all the things. In today’s world, there is just so much information available. It. Is. Overwhelming. I remember feeling completely discouraged and the dream of adoption felt completely out of reach.
Now that I’ve adopted twice, I feel like the process is second nature to me. And it’s not as overwhelming as I once thought. So, this is my “easy peasy” step-by-step guide of the adoption process. Of course, there are a million details all in between. But those are things you can figure out as you go.
- Home Study. A home study is required in every adoption situation. It is performed by a licensed social worker or agency. It’s a comprehensive overview of your life and includes face-to-face meetings, background checks, reviewing of finances, and even exams your personal relationships. Some agencies may also require training courses or additional information from the potential adoptive parents. After the home study is complete, you’ll receive a 20+ page document with all the information collected and a statement that says you’re “recommended for adoption”.
- Profile Book. This may be required from your agency or adoption attorney. When they are approached by an expectant mother, they’ll provide several profile books from hopeful adoptive parents. These can look very differently. Some families create a 8-12 page booklet, or a folding brochure, or Powerpoint. It should include pictures and text about your everyday life and include family information, hobbies, lifestyle, work, why you want children, etc. Ultimately, you’re marketing yourself to an expectant mother. In some cases, agencies or attorney may require that your profile book be done a specific way. Some families hire a service to create/print their book, some do it themselves using software such as Shutterfly or Canva.
- Choose Your Agency or Attorney. This is perhaps the toughest decision because there are so many agencies out there. Decide what is important to you. Is it location? Cost? Success rate? Interview at least two or three before deciding. I’ve heard many adoptive parents say they “connected” instantly with one agency over another. They will be your main form of support and guidance over the next many months so you want to make sure and choose wisely. Don’t forget about adoption attorneys, too. In some cases, agencies perform the home study so this may be your first step in the process.
- Get “Matched”. This is what adoptive parents wait on pins and needles for….to be matched! Being “matched” means that an expectant mother has seen your profile book and has chosen your family to adopt her child. Your agency will contact you with the news and set up a time to meet or talk to the expectant mother if she desires. In some cases, the baby may be due in five months. In other cases, the baby may be already born. It can feel scary, exciting, and clouded by “what ifs”. But this is where adoption stories are made and each varies so, so greatly. Some expectant mothers want to meet with the adoptive parents regularly and have them attend doctor appointments. Others want no further contact until baby is born. Just hold on and enjoy the ride. Most of the time, another payment to the agency is required once matched.
- Meet Your Baby. Ahh, the day we’ve waited our entire lives for. Typically, your agency or attorney may be the one to call letting you know the expectant mother has gone in to labor or just delivered the baby. If the adoptive parents have a relationship with the expectant mother, they may already be there. This is an exciting time. But it’s also a sensitive time where emotions are high and there are many unknowns. Navigating around the hospital can be a tough spot for adoptive parents when they aren’t really sure of their “role”. And of course, the new mother is gearing to make the toughest decision of her life. Luckily, many agencies offer wonderful support during this time for the hopeful parents and the birth families. Just take things as they come. Love that baby and support the birthmother as best as you can.
- Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). Every state has its own laws regarding the timeframe in with the birthmother can sign TPR after birth. In some states, it’s 12 hours after birth whereas other states it’s 72 hours after birth. Some states have a 7 day, 30 day, etc. revocable period where the birthparents could change their mind. In some states, it’s irrevocable upon signing. It’s important to know the states laws around TPR before your baby is born so you know what to expect. Once TPR is signed, you’ll have a temporary custody order that allows you to bring baby home. Then, weeks, months, or sometimes a year later, you’ll be seen in front of a judge to make the adoption legally “official”.
See, easy, right? I know, it’s really not. But it’s doable. It’s not as far out of reach as you think. If you’re considering adoption, don’t let the process deter you. There are so many people out there to support you through the process. So many have walked the path before you that you can lean on. And in the end, my promise to you is that it will be worth it.
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