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7 Steps to Adoption

  1. Determine the TYPE of adoption you will pursue: 

  • Foster-to-Adopt: A child is placed in the home under foster care, but with the expectation that they will become legally available to be adopted. There are no fees to adopt from foster care. Adoptive parents receive financial and medical assistance from the State during foster care and after the child is adopted.

  • Private Infant adoption: Adoptive parents are matched with a birth mother through a private agency. The agencies provide counseling support, financial assistance, and continuous communication with the birth mother throughout her pregnancy. There are significant legal expenses, including living/care expenses for the birth mother until the child is born.

  • Independent adoption: Similar to a Private Infant Adoption, however, there is usually no counseling for birth parents, and most cases are handled directly by an attorney.

  • International adoption: Also known as intercountry adoption, is the adoption of a child from another country. These children are usually adopted from orphanages. There are varying laws in different countries and this process takes a significant amount of time.

2. Select an Adoption Agency:

  • Visit for a list of agencies

  • Seek referrals from adoptive parents

  • Attend an orientation

  • Speak one-on-one with an Adoption Specialist to get all of your questions asked


3. Complete a Homestudy:

  • A Homestudy is a three-part process required before a child can be placed with a family for foster care or adoption: Written portion includes autobiographies, references, medical reports, financial statements, child abuse and criminal clearances and other written materials.

  • Social work process includes a series of visits in the applicants’ home to discuss a variety of issues from family backgrounds to motivations to adopt.

  • Educational process includes training in adoption and parenting. Classes are required by the agency and the number of hours varies by State. 

  • The end result of this process is a written document completed by a licensed agency giving a summary of the applicants’ family life. This document indicates approval of the applicants for adoption. In most states it must be updated annually.

4. Matching:

  • A match occurs when your family is selected as the placement for a child or sibling group. 

  • In Foster to Adopt, matching is handled by the adoptive parents’ case manager and the child’s social worker.

  • In a Private Infant Adoption, both the adoptive parents and the birth parents participate in the process.

  • The timeline for matching varies GREATLY depending on several factors including preferences for age, race, and background of the child.


5. Placement:

  • This process means the child is under the guardianship of the adoptive parents, but prior to the finalization of adoption.

  • Post-placement home visits are conducted by child’s social worker

  • In foster to adopt, birth parents may still have judge-ordered visitation

  • In some instances there is a risk the child may be reunified with birth parent after placement


6. Apply for adoption decree:

  • Once the child is legally eligible for adoption, adoptive parents apply for adoption decree

  • In private adoption, the petition expense may be included in the overall fee

  • You will be connected with an attorney


7. Finalization:

  • In foster care, it may take 6-12 months after placement, for the adoption decree to be final

  • Includes a brief court hearing (30 minutes) or paperwork-only in some states

  • Once adoption is finalized there can be no resending and its finally time to Celebrate as a Forever Family!

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