Adoption process – Overview, Steps and all you need to know

adoption process

Meaning of Adoption.

Adoption is a legal process which transfers to an individual or a couple the parental responsibility of providing the security, permanency and the love of a new family to a child when it is not possible for the child to be raised by his/her birth parents or within the birth family. It is a legal process that gives child’s full custody to the adoptive parents.

Adoption is a way of making a real difference to a child, by giving them the love, stability and safe nurturing environment every child deserves.

Many couples dream of becoming pregnant and having a child of their own, but most of these couples will face infertility. Meanwhile, most couple resorts to adoption to expand their families. However, the decision to abandon the idea of having a biological child and turn to adoption is a hard one to make.

After adoption, all rights and responsibilities automatically transfers from the original parents to the adoptive parents. The rights includes;

  • The child assumes the surname of the new parents.
  • Receives an adoption certificate to replace their birth certificate and becomes a permanent and full member of the new family.

Stability of a permanent family gives children the best possible chance of realizing their full potential.

Therefore training and support is given to individuals to help prepare them for and through the adoption process. The training and the support continues for as long as required.

How to start an adoption process

(1) Do your research/enquiry

The first step to begin the adoption process is to understand the adoption process and requirements, and some of the issues facing adoptive parents and adopted children and also, Read articles and blogs, talk to adoptive parents over the phone, read books, consider the types of adoption you and decide on what type of adoption program is best for you and your family.

The following are Types of adoption;

Once you decide the type of adoption you wish to pursue, it is important to obtain a solid understanding of the costs involved in the process.

Standard fees typically include, but not limited to;

  • Your adoption professional’s fees
  • Marketing costs associated in achieving your highest chance possible in reaching potential Birth Mothers
  • Birth mother pregnancy-related expenses 4.
  • Home study costs
  • Travel and legal expenses.

Do a lot of research and make a commitment to finding as much info as possible, that helps to make one feel prepared before starting the journey. The adoption journey is long but so rewarding. Knowing what to expect can help you make it to the sweetest finish line—having your child finally in your arms.

For couples who have committed to adoption and are ready to move forward, there are a few requirements you must meet. In Texas, a prospective adoptive parent can be either single or married, and must meet these requirements;
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be financially stable
  • Complete an application to adopt
  • Share background and lifestyle information
  • Provide references
  • Provide proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable)
  • Have a completed home study
  • Submit to a criminal background and child abuse checks on all adults living in the household

(2)Decide on an agency or lawyer

After deciding on the type of adoption research many agencies or law firms and examine all of their services and benefits before making a decision. Adopting through a lawyer is different than with an agency. While researching various adoption professionals, it is important for you to understand that not all entities provide the same services in the same manner. Some handle the entire adoption process, helping you through every step, while others may only handle certain parts of it and some may. Some agency normally have a requirement where the adoptive parents would have to meet with the birth parents two times per year. With this kind of requirement, an individual more interested in semi-open or closed adoption, may source for the particular adoption professional that would suit their preferences. Subsequently, some couple wouldn’t mind keeping communication with the birth parents.

Everyone’s needs and wants are different. Be sure to research which route makes sense for you. 

Some questions you’ll want to ask an adoption professional before making your decision include;

  • What kind of children does the entity place (ages, backgrounds, etc.)?
  • How many children has the entity placed in each of the past few years?
  • How does the entity find Birth Parents?
  • What does the adoption opportunity process look like?
  • How long, on average, is the wait time?
  • What is the home study and what does it require?
  • How much does a completed adoption cost — in total and each part?
  • What if the adoption doesn’t work out and is there any financial protection provided?

(3)Complete the Application and Home Study for Adoption.

 The adoption professional will ask you to fill out a number of paperwork and will review your completed application to determine whether to accept you as a client. If they accept you, you will have to pay a registration fee.

Next comes the home study or family assessment. Every Adopting Parent in the United States must complete a home study in order to adopt a child. A home study is conducted by someone licensed in your state. Usually a social worker or through the adoption agency completing the adoption. The purpose of the home study is to educate the adopting family and also to determine whether you and your home can raise a child. It prepares the adoptive family for adoption.

During the adoption process, your caseworker will visit your home to discuss your personal history, family interests and lifestyle, childcare experiences, and your strengths and skills in meeting the child’s needs. This will include an interview with you (the adoptive parents) and any other resident of your home. It will also include state and federal criminal background checks and financial and medical information. This process takes minimum of three to four months.

A successful home study results in an official approval for the adoption to move forward.

(4)Wait to receive a match and placement of the child

Once you have successfully completed the necessary steps to becoming a waiting family through your agency or lawyer, Depending on the type of adoption you have chosen, you will likely either be able to view a list of waiting children, if adopting an older child or Birth Parents will select you after reviewing Adoptive Family profiles if you are adopting an infant.

Adopting a child always requires a waiting period and this period can be the most difficult part of the adoption process, so it is important to have the right attitude about the process.. It may also be beneficial to take up a new hobby to keep your minds occupied as you wait. The time frame can depend on many factors, including prospective parents’ ages, family structure, and state legal requirements.

International adoption is more predictable, usually taking less than two years. Couple seeking to adopt a newborn domestically need to wait to be chosen by a birth mother and it can take three months. At this point, the adoption is completely out of your hands and there is nothing you can do to speed the process up. However, adoptive families who distance themselves from their wait tend to have much smoother adoptions. Patience will be your greatest tool at this point in the adoption process.

(5)Prepare for your baby

For couple or individual adopting an infant, before the birth of your baby, you will have to think about home preparation for your new child. This means doing everything required to make a new home safe, welcoming, and comfortable for a new child. This includes buying or borrowing for children of different ages.

(6)Placement of the child

You will be notified by your adoption professional once a birth mother has chosen you to be her child’s adoptive parent. It’s advisable to hire an attorney at this point if you’ve chosen to use an agency.

The birth Parents must wait for at least 48 hours after the birth before terminating parental rights. However, consent to the adoption is irrevocable after signing, meaning that the birth mother cannot change her mind once she has signed the adoption papers. This depends on the type of adoption you are completing, open, closed or anywhere in between. There may be some form of communication between you and the birth mother before the adoption. This is an opportunity for her to get to know more about you and feel more comfortable with the life she has chosen for her child.

This communication can include;

 Conference calls, email exchange, or meetings. Adoptive professional mediates all communication between the adoptive and birth parent.

At this point, the child will be placed in adoptive parents custody, though he/she will not be a legal member of the family until the adoption is finalized some months later. The social worker visits several times to ensure the child is well cared for and to write up the required court reports. This period varies according to state laws.

(7)Finalizing the adoption

After a long and exciting journey, the finalization marks the legal completion of the adoption. This is an exciting time for the adoptive family as your child becomes an official member of your family.

Before the adoption can be finalized, these few steps must be taken:

  • Complete ICPC – if your adoption occurs across state lines, you must remain in the state until Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperwork is cleared, which usually takes between 7 to 10 business days.
  • Post-Placement Visits – you will have a select number of post placement visits to complete, usually performed by your home study provider, which will show the adoption professional and the court that the child and your family are adjusting well to one another. The state of Texas typically requires five post-placement visits.
  • Finalization Hearing – A judge’s final review of the adoption ensures the necessary post-placement visits were completed, ICPC (interstate compact on the placement of Children) was conducted in applicable adoption situations, and both birth parents’ parental rights were legally terminated. The Texas Family Code states that an adoption can only be finalized when the child has stayed in the custody of the adoptive parents in not less than six months. In some counties, both adoptive parents must be present for the finalization hearing. However, in certain circumstances where the adoptive parents live out of state, the court may not require the family to travel back to the state to finalize their adoption.

Post-Placement Contact

The amount of post-placement contact that occurs between adoptive parents and the birth parents is determined by the adoption plan agreed to. There are varying degrees of openness with adoptions, which amount to varying degrees of communication.

In most situation, this will include letters and pictures sent to the birth parents through the adoption agency. Communication usually continue for several years after the child’s birth. If you are adopting through an agency, you and the birth parents may sign an agreement specifying the type and frequency of contact, this is applicable to couple that opted for open adoption. Though this is a good way to ensure you will always have access to the birth family, these agreements are not legally enforceable. If the agency loses contact with the birth family, there is no way for the agency to force them to reestablish contact.

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