Many people dream of growing up and starting a family of their own. We often think about starting our families in the traditional manner, but there are a number of different ways in which you can grow your family. The adoption process is one of the most popular alternative ways to making your parenting dreams come true.
Whether you’re one of the many people struggling with fertility, or you just want to provide a home for a child who needs one, adoption could be the right route for you. Read on to learn all about how adoption works!
Foster to Adopt
Fostering a child is a great way to determine whether you’re ready to be a full-time adoptive parent. In this situation, you submit an application to a state agency to see if you are eligible to foster a child. Potential foster parents get to meet with the children who would be placed in their home, and if it’s a good fit, then they move forward.
The children that are placed in your home are often victims of child abuse. Others may come from homes where their parents could no longer care for them due to prison sentences or other issues.
Not all foster children are adopted by their foster families. Their parents would have to relinquish their parental rights in order for them to be adopted out.
Independent adoption is a process through which the birth parent and the adoptive parents agree to the adoption without the help of an adoption agency. This doesn’t mean that you just sign papers and you can bypass the steps that would be completed in a formal process.
First, many states prohibit independent adoptions. If your state does allow it, you will likely still need to work with a social worker, adoption lawyer, or agency to complete the process. You should also expect to complete a home study before the adoption can be finalized.
Speak with an experienced family law attorney for more info about the independent adoption process.
Adoption Agency Route
Traditional adoptions are done through an adoption agency or adoption attorney. Your first step in the adoption process is going to be to find an adoption agency with whom you feel comfortable working.
The adoption agency you choose will specialize in either domestic or international adoptions. It’s important to do some research on which route you would like to go through. International adoptions tend to provide adoptive families more certainty that the adoption will actually occur, but there are also more expenses and red tape.
Look up the different adoption agencies in your area and pick a few to speak with. You’ll want to prepare a list of questions for them to help you determine if they are a good fit. Consider asking questions about their fees, post-adoption services, and their success rate.
Complete a Home Study
Pretty much every adoption that occurs in the United States requires some form of a home study in order for it to be complete. Typically, the adoption agency will contract with a social worker who will come to your home to learn about your living situation and how you plan to care for the child you adopt.
Expect the social worker to interview you and any other people living in your home. You may have to undergo a physical to make sure that you’re healthy enough to care for a child. You may also have to provide a report from a mental health professional.
This will occur several times throughout a period of time in order for the social worker to get to know you. Expect the home study process to take between three and six months to complete.
Find a Match
Once you’ve completed the home study process, it’s time for you to find a good match. This is an important step for both the prospective adoptive parents and the birth parents of the child. The birth parents are relinquishing their parental rights so their child can have a better life, so it’s important that they feel safe handing over their child to the adoptive parents.
The birth parent will sit down with an adoption specialist to discuss what kind of family they’d like to see their child with. The adoptive parents will then create their own profile that allows the birth parent to get to know them and their individual values. The birth parent will look through as many profiles as she needs to until she finds the right fit.
Once a match has been made, the birth parent informs the adoption specialist and the adoption moves forward.
Finalize the Adoption Process
The adoption cannot be finalized until after the baby has been born. This step is known as “finalization.”
To complete this step, you will need to go through a legal hearing. At the hearing, a judge will grant legal custody of the child to the adoptive parents. Once that is done, the adoption is considered complete.
Depending on the type of adoption agreement you entered into, you may be able to send updates about the child to the birth parent. You may even allow the parent to be part of the child’s life. All of these details will be sorted before the finalization.
Do You Think Adoption Is Right for You?
Going through the adoption process might seem like a daunting task, but it is definitely worth the effort. Not only will you be able to make your dreams of becoming a parent come true, but you’ll also be able to help a child who needs a loving home. If this sounds like the right path for you, then you definitely should sit down with your partner and start planning!
Some of the most difficult aspects of the adoption process are the legal hoops you have to jump through to finalize the adoption. You’re bound to have a ton of questions along the way. Check out the rest of our blog for answers to all of your most important legal questions!