By Jessica Hartwig, Adoption Recruitment Specialist
Adoption is a journey that is often referred to as a “roller coaster” ride. I’ve taken the ride and it’s worth the ups and downs! No matter how you choose to grow your family through adoption, “patience,” “personal reflection,” “diligence,” and “faith in miracles” are usually lessons learned through this emotional ride.
Begin your plan with research. You will find that there are several different options in choosing your adoption plan. You’ll want to gather as much information as possible to help you decide whether you prefer to work with a public or private agency, or if you want to adopt a child from another country. Research and knowledge is the key to feeling great about your final adoption decision. No matter what route you ultimately take down this path, I suggest that you conduct interviews with your top three private adoption agencies, attend orientation at your public department of child welfare offices, and speak with other pre- and post-adoptive families and inquire on their experiences. Take a few weeks to fully research your options because “knowledge is power” in this extremely important decision. You should feel very confident about the path you choose to take and how you grow your family through adoption.
You should know that the adoption process varies from state to state, but most adoptive families share a similar journey once they have decided which type of adoption is right for them. Generally, the adoption process includes choosing an agency, attending orientation and/or training classes, completing a home study, engaging in the placement process to bring a child into the home, legally finalizing the adoption, and accessing resources to support the needs of the child and the family over time.
Before you begin your own research and personal reflection, consider this:
- What’s your adoption timeline?
- Are you open to considering various races, disabilities, sibling groups, and gender?
- What type of child do you feel that you can best parent?
- Are you comfortable with an open or closed adoption?
- Do you have children at home now? How will adoption affect their birth order?
- Is your family in support of adoption?
- What is your support system?
- Do you have realistic expectations of the adoption process?
Here’s a quick and easy breakdown of your adoption choices:
- (International) Intercountry Adoption
Adopting a child from a country other than your own. To adopt a child from abroad, you must work with an agency that is specifically licensed to conduct international adoptions in the country you choose.
- Domestic Infant Adoption
Adopting a healthy infant through private adoption agencies in the U.S.
- Domestic Independent Adoption
An adoption that takes place without the involvement of established public or private agencies. This type of adoption may also be called a private adoption and is generally facilitated by an attorney. The birth family selects a specific family to adopt their child either directly or with the aid of a liaison or adoption facilitator. In some states, birth parent counseling is required and the adopting family must complete an adoption home study.
- Domestic Foster-to-Adopt AdoptionPublic child welfare agency adoption of children in foster care who have experienced abuse and neglect and who are unable to be returned safely to their biological families. Generally, county and state departments of social services (sometimes called Child and Family Services) do not place healthy infants. To adopt a healthy infant you will most likely need to work with a private agency.
This journey of adoption is fascinating; where you start this trek and where you think you will finish isn’t always where you end up.
Be strong, stay smart, go with your heart, and believe in miracles because one day you will look back and understand why things happened the way that they did. The decisions that you make now should confidently direct you on this journey. Congratulations on taking the first steps down the path!