Starting the Adoption Process: What Adoptive Parents Need to Know

Have you been thinking about adopting a child? Before you can begin the process, there are a few things you need to consider.

If you and your partner have been thinking about expanding your family, you understand that you have many available options for doing so. One way some parents choose to add to their family is through the process of adoption. Adopting a child can be an incredible experience; however, it can also be costly and time-consuming. Before you start the adoption process, it's important to understand what your options and choices are. You and your partner will need to carefully consider all of your options and take the time to decide how adoption will look for your family.

First off, decide whether you want to adoption domestically or internationally. There are a variety of options available when it comes to adoption. Some parents like the idea of adopting a child internationally who may need a loving home. In some cases, an international adoption may be completed faster than a domestic adoption. Other parents prefer to adopt domestically, perhaps even locally through a foster-to-adopt program. If you opt for a domestic adoption, you are more likely to be able to have an open adoption and maintain contact with the child's birth parents. This means you'll be able to ask questions about medical history, as well as family background if needed.

Consider whether you want an open adoption or a closed adoption. With an open adoption, you will have regular contact with the birth parents. You may send them pictures, school report cards, or even invite them to important life events for the child. In some cases, you may schedule visits with the birth parents. In a closed adoption, however, contact with the birth parents will be limited or non-existent. Talk with your partner about your preferences and discuss which type of adoption you would prefer. Understand that the birth family may have their own preferences, however, so be ready to be flexible when it comes to deciding your preference.

It's also important to schedule a home study early on. This is one of the key elements to any successful adoption. During a home study, both you and your partner will receive background checks to ensure that you do not have criminal histories. You may also need to provide personal letters of reference. The primary goal of a home study is to determine that both your home and lifestyle is child-ready. You and your partner will need to have health checks performed. You'll also provide copies of important legal documents, such as your birth certificates and your marriage license.

When you're ready to start the adoption process, meet with a family law attorney who can help you on your journey. Your lawyer can help you review important legal documents, talk with you about the pros and cons of different adoption types, and ensure that you're working with a reputable adoption agency when you start the adoption process.