Once you have decided that you want to adopt a child, figuring out how to begin an adoption can be quite challenging. One of the first steps is to do decide which type of adoption is right for you. Prospective parents may choose to work with an adoption agency or proceed with an “independent” adoption without agency involvement. Also, birth parents and adoptive parents must decide how much contact they want with one another. Additionally, prospective parents must follow state regulations mandating the “home study” process, court approval, and other steps along the way. This sub-section includes articles and resources to help you get started and successfully complete the adoption process.
Locating a Child
Unless you are seeking to adopt a specific child the first question many would-be adoptive parents must face is how to locate a child in need of adoption. Common methods for identifying an adoptable child include the following;
Adoption agencies and government organizations may facilitate adoption and provide other helpful services that ensure that parents are matched with appropriate children in need of adoption. Acting as a foster parent may lead to a successful adoption, though not all foster relationships can result in an adoption.
Surrogacy, contracting to have someone bear a child on your behalf; can help ensure a genetic relationship between the adoptive parent and child, although surrogates are also used in circumstances where the child has no biological relationship with either of the adoptive parents.
Doctors, lawyers, and religious organizations may be aware of children in need of adoption as a result of their contact with the community. Your social network, the internet, and paid advertisement are other methods a parent seeking a child to adopt may publicize their availability and interest.
All states require prospective parents to complete a "home study." This process ensures that adoptive families are prepared and educated sufficiently for the adoption. Home study also provides information about the intending parents to establish that they are capable of providing a healthy environment for an adopted child. Specific requirements for home study vary greatly, but there are some common elements.
Many home studies require prospective parents attend trainings focused on the challenges raising an adopted child. Interviews are quite common and several of them may be required. Home visits ensure that state licensing standards are met. Health and income statements intend to ensure that a serious health or financial problem will not jeopardize the adopted child. Background checks, autobiographical statements, and references help establish that the person has no record of criminal activity or child abuse and help ensure that prospective parents will provide a home free of abuse or neglect.
Petitioning the Court
Although details may vary greatly, adoptions require a petition to the appropriate court. A petition, at minimum, will typically identify all parties, request the termination of parental rights of the birth parents, if any, and urge that the adoptive parents be granted custody of the child.
Proceedings and petitions may be quite complicated. Rules can vary greatly between jurisdictions and are nearly always fairly complicated. Retaining an agency, attorney, or both may be necessary to assist in representation.