Within the United States there are many children who are waiting to have their forever family. If you have started to do research on domestic adoption you have probably discovered your options are endless. You now realize you have to find an agency, complete a home study, search for a child, exchange your information with your child’s agency, wait to see if you have been selected for the child you have chosen, wait, then wait some more, attend scheduled meets and visits with your child, receive a placement, then at last, finalize your adoption. Wow, extensive isn’t it? With all the different steps, laws, finical obligations, and types of adoption, it begins to get overwhelming. Below are some helpful adoption questions to help make your process a little easier. Make love visible to the child God has waiting for you.
What types of Local (Domestic) adoptions are there?
- Infant adoption. There are more people wanting to adopt infants than there are infants available to be adopted. Many people who want infants will try to adopt through an intermediary such as a licensed adoption agency. This is known as Independent Adoption or Domestic Infant adoption.
- Foster-to-Adopt. This is a form of adoption where a child will be placed in your home as a foster child, but with the expectation that he/she will become legally free and available to be adopted by you. This can be a difficult journey because the goal of Foster Care is to reunite the child with the biological parents until the parental rights have been terminated.
- Older-child adoption. A child under 18 years of age but no longer considered an infant, that is eligible for adoption. This could be a foster child, step child, or independent adoption.
What is the difference between Closed and Open adoptions?
A closed adoption is one where no identifying information about the birth family or the adoptive family is shared between the two, and there is no contact between the families. As the adoptive family, you will receive non-identifying information about the child and birth family before he or she joins your family. After your adoption is finalized, the records are sealed. Depending on local law and what paperwork was signed and filed when the adoption was finalized, these records may or may not be available to the adopted child when they reach 18.
An open adoption allows for some form of association among the birth parents, adoptive parents and the child they adopted. This can range from picture and letter sharing to phone calls, to contact through an intermediary or open contact among the parties themselves. Many adoptions of older children and teenagers are at least partially open since the children may already know identifying or contact information about members of their birth families, or may want to stay in touch with siblings placed separately.
Adoption Laws and important legal things to know.
- Family Leave Act – The Family Medical Leave Act requires that an employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for several reasons, one being the placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care. More information
- Omnibus Act – This act guarantees adopted children the same access to health insurance as birth children. More information
- Legal things to know – Adoptions can be very complicated and there are a lot of things to know from Termination of Parental Rights (TPR), to finalization, and Social Security numbers. It is important to familiars yourself with the legalize of adoption. More information.
How do you financing your adoption?
Local.Domestic Adoption can vary in price depending on if you adopt out of foster care, use an agency, or adopt an infant or older child. Generally if you adopt out of the foster care system your adoption will be reimbursed 100%, if you adopt an infant from an adoption agency or lawyer it could be $25,000. There are a lot of grants and programs available to help you get the financial resources you need to adopt internationally. Check out our list of organizations for Adoption financial assistance.
What are the steps in local adoption?
- LEARN about Adoption – Being here is a good first step. Read through all of the information available here and other websites. You may also want to look for books and magazines about adoption at bookstores, libraries and on other websites. Attend an adoptive parents’ support group or adoption conferences. Visit adoption agencies’ websites and go to Adoption agencies info meetings.
- SELECT an Agency – You must work with an agency licensed in the state where you live. Contact several agencies to ask about the type of children they place, their fee structure, how they assess and prepare families, and how long it will take. Get references: speak with other parents who have used the agency you are investigating. Check whether the agency is licensed by your state to provide adoption services. You do not need an attorney at this point, but you may want to ask which legal services will be provided by your agency and which services you may be responsible for on your own.
- COMPLETE a Homestudy – A homestudy is a series of meetings between you and an agency social worker. Think of it as an ongoing conversation which is part of the adoption process and prepares you for parenting. The social worker who prepares your homestudy will need to ask you for certain documents such as birth certificates, marriage license, child abuse clearances and personal references before finalizing his or her report. At least one meeting will be at your home. All individuals who live in your home will need to attend. The social worker is not there to do a “white glove” inspection of your home, but is there to ensure that you and your family are prepared to have a child or youth in your home and that you are ready to parent. Your social worker can also answer questions for you and point you in the direction of further resources to support you as you move along on your journey.
- SEARCH/WAIT for a Child – You begin the search for a child, teenager or sibling group when your homestudy is complete if you are adopting from the foster care system. If you are adopting an Domestic Infant the birth mother will selecting the family to place her child in, which means you will wait till you are selected. Your agency will have children in its care or your worker will search for a child for you by networking with other child placing agencies. Explore other exchanges’ or agencies’ photolistings of children.
- EXCHANGE Information with Child’s Agency – When you locate a child who seems like the right match to all parties involved, your worker and the child’s worker exchange information. Your homestudy is sent. If the child’s worker is interested in your family, you may then receive the child’s profile. This step of the process may take some time and calls for both patience and persistence.
- LEARN that You Have Been Selected for a Child – You and several other families may be considered at the same time. The child’s worker or birth mother makes the final decision on which family can best meet the child’s needs. When you are selected, more confidential information is shared, so that you can be sure this is the child for you. If the child’s parental rights are not legally terminated, it will be done at this time.
- MEET and VISIT with the Child – The first meeting with the child is followed by several visits over a few weeks or months. If the child lives in another state, the child’s agency will work with you to arrange for at least one or two visits. Paperwork, such as the Interstate Compact or adoption assistance agreement, is completed. You are getting ready to add a new child to your life.
- RECEIVE a Placement – The placement date is when the child comes to live in your home. Your agency will visit and work with you for several months in post-placement supervision. During this time you file a legal intent to adopt petition.
- FINALIZE Your Adoption – Your child or teenager becomes a legal part of your family when you attend a court session where a judge finalizes your adoption. You will receive an amended birth certificate that names you as parents and a certificate of adoption.
- LIVE AS AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY – Adoption doesn’t end after finalization. You will continue to learn about adoptive parenting. Talk with your child and others about adoption, find support and services for your child’s needs, and connect with other adoptive parents.
Local Adoption Websites