Insights into the Adoption Process: What Every Hopeful Adoptive Parent Should Know

The adoptive process is probably not going to be easy. There are many decisions that you must make in order to adopt a child.  The first important decision is whether adoption is right for you. You’ll want to have a thorough understanding of the process in order to make a decision. If you decide to adopt, there may be a long and sometimes rocky path to travail.

Adoption can be expensive. Many adoptions cost $30,000, and some private agencies and attorneys charge considerably more.  However, if you adopt through the state, your adoption will be free and you may even be eligible to receive a subsidy.

As you start down this road, you will want to find an agency in your home state to conduct a home study.  A home study is a required part of the process that — in most states — is conducted by a licensed adoption agency. It begins with an assessment of your family situation, and concludes when the agency certifies that you are qualified to adopt. The process entails several interviews, adoption training, background checks, character references and more.  A home study may take months to complete.

The home study agency you choose may be your path to the placement of a child.  Sometimes, the adoptive family will complete their home study and then work with an out of state agency or a private attorney to facilitate a placement.

The home study requirements may vary a bit between agencies and states, but some of the steps are universal.  Between the meetings with a social worker, trainings, background checks and other requirements, you are looking at a wait of at least a 2-3 months.

Each agency offers a unique set of trainings.  These “classes” are designed to prepare you to adopt a child.  Trainings may cover everything from understanding birth mothers, open adoption, transracial adoption, effects of drug exposure during pregnancy, medical considerations, etc.  In the end, you will be asked to define a set of requirements for the child who will eventually join your family.

Open adoption has become commonplace in domestic placements.  It is important that you understand what open adoption is and what it is not.  Most agencies offer the option of openness to expectant mothers, and most birth mothers choose to have some contact with the adoptive family.  The agency you choose to work with will have its own philosophy regarding open adoption; it is important that you understand that philosophy in order to choose the best agency for you.

Waiting Is Difficult

Once you have met your agency’s requirements, your file will be placed in an “active” pool of families waiting to adopt.  For many agencies, it is the expectant mother who chooses the family (not the agency). Therefore, the wait time is unpredictable.  Not knowing when you will be selected may be the most difficult aspect of the process.  Some couples adopt within a few months and others wait years for a placement.  You should ask your agency about their average wait time, how many adoptive families are waiting, and how many placements the agency does in a typical year.  Although this information will not completely answer your question, it will help you evaluate your chances.

When you are “matched” with an expectant mother, you will most likely have another waiting period.  This time the wait has an estimated length, coinciding with the expectant mother’s due date. During this time period, you may have considerable contact with the expectant mother.  Contact may vary in intensity and frequency depending on many factors; the variables include her wishes (and yours), geography (distance between you) and length of time before the baby is due to be born.

After choosing a family, some birth mothers will change their mind about placing their child.  This change of heart most often occurs after the baby has arrived, so waiting adoptive parents need to understand the risk they are taking.  If the birth mother decides to parent this child, you will reenter the pool of “active” waiting parents until another expectant mother chooses you.

When an adoption falls through, it is difficult for the prospective adoptive family.  Like any loss, it will take time to heal, but it does not reduce your chances for a successful adoption. When you are are able to get some distance,  you may begin to understand that the birth mother had to make a choice that she could live with for the rest of her life. It’s important that she makes that decision freely, without duress or a sense of obligation to the adoptive family or agency. The right baby will come along and — at that time — it will be a decision that both sides embrace.

Although adoption is never easy, it is well worth the wait, the cost  and the emotional roller coaster that some families experience.  Parenting is never an easy road, so the adoption process prepares one for the ups and downs of a growing child whose needs and demands require patience, love, commitment and understanding.  Take it from a parent who knows!

This blog is provided by Adoption Center for Family Building, a licensed, non-profit, open adoption agency in Illinois and Indiana.  For more information about our services, please visit our website at Birth parents may call us at  800-869-1005 or text 847-366-6351.  A counselor is available to answer questions 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays. Adoptive families may call the office during regular business hours: Illinois; 847-674-3231 or Indiana: 219-795-9900