In the United States there are several steps you must take before you can finally bring a child into your home to become a part of your family. The decision to adopt is a highly personal one and one that also carries many complex emotions with it.

For those considering adoption you must fully understand the process and what it means to both your family and the potential child who will be involved.

  • Decide on the type of adoption – as a family you have to decide the specifics of your adoption including the child you are looking for. Details such as age (infant, toddler, etc), sex and race will all be factors when you adopt.
  • Private or adoption agency – agencies will try to find a child that matches your request as well as one that will be a good fit for your household. Private adoptions mean the prospective adopters will locate a birth mother themselves.
  • Closed or open adoption – a closed adoption is one where the records of the birth parents are often confidential and sometimes even sealed, an open adoption allows for contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents.

Once you have thought over the process and the details you’ll want to start researching adoption agencies and professionals. You’ll also want to look into the fees and costs associated with each agency as well as professional adoption services. Across the U.S. there are many locally based and even national agencies or adoption professionals who will help facilitate the process.   Consulting a lawyer who specializes in adoption is also recommended.

A key component to adoption is the home study element. In every type of adoption home study is required. The concept of home study is that it is an in-depth look at your daily life, home study is there to make sure you are capable of being a fit parent to the potential child you adopt. During this process a social worker will perform background checks. Background checks will be at both the state and federal level, the social worker will also examine your medical history and financial statements. Consider it to be an interview process for your child.

Some agencies will ask you to put together a profile of you as a family, these may include pictures or videos. These profiles are designed to show prospective birth mothers what your family is like and how your family will welcome her child into the home. They are designed to make it easy for her to picture what life would be like for the child, should the adoption go through.

Once this is completed you will then be in the “waiting period”, this means that you are actively looking for the right fit, the right opportunity of birth mother or child who meets your adoption criteria. Sometimes this process can be difficult due to the uncertainty, you will need to understand that it is not the same for everyone and that sometimes it may take a while to find the right child that fits your family. Agencies suggest to maintain a “life as usual” approach when in the waiting period. Do what you would normally do, try not to hyper focus on the process but rather when the call happens, it happens.

Once the criteria is met, you’ve found a birth mother or a child then the process can be formally finalized. During this time all the legalities are tied up and the adoption is then legal, the child is now officially part of your family!