Adoption Process

Information about how to adopt a child

The adoption process varies slightly, depending on the laws and regulations that apply in your jurisdiction and the type of adoption you wish to pursue. However, there are common elements to every type of adoption, which you should be prepared to encounter before you begin the application process.

Before you begin, you should know your adoption options. You can adopt a baby or an older child, a boy or a girl, seek domestic adoption or international adoption, and adopt a baby on a private or open basis. Your adoption process will vary, depending on which option you elect to pursue.

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The Basics of How to Adopt

Elements that are common to every type of adoption include:

  • The initial intake meeting. During your initial intake meeting, you will meet with representatives from the adoption agency and learn about the steps in the adoption process. During the initial intake, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have about adoption fees, risks and processes and get an approximate idea of how long your waiting period will be.
  • The formal application. You should be prepared to answer very personal and invasive questions about your medical history, personal life and relationships on the various adoption forms you'll be asked to fill out. As part of the formal application, you will have to consent to a background check and provide references to the adoption agency.
  • The home study screening. A social worker will be sent to your home to complete an assessment of the living environment you will provide your adopted child. This is known as the home study, and is, without exception, a required part of the adoption process, no matter what type of adoption you're pursuing.
  • The petition and finalization process. Final decisions may take several months, or as long as one year (and, in rare cases, longer). Legal petitions must be filed to complete the adoption process.

Adoption Costs

The cost of adopting a child varies, but can reach into the thousands of dollars, especially if you decide to work with an adoption lawyer. To help offset these costs, some governments offer adoption grants and adoption tax credits to help prospective parents meet the financial challenges of the already generous commitment they're making to the adopted child.