The steps involved in adopting a child will vary from state to state, but here are the basic steps most states require.
1. Ensure you meet the basic requirements
Prospective parents must:
- Meet basic requirements, such as age, state residency, and are financially stable
- Provide necessary background and lifestyle information
- Provide references
- Provide proof of marriage or divorce, if applicable
- Submit criminal background and child abuse checks for any adults living in the household
2. Select the type of adoption
This step will dictate what agency you work with and any additional requirements you must meet. It also can help prospective parents judge the cost and wait times.
3. Complete a home study
This step is required for any type of adoption. It determines whether the prospective parents and their home is deemed fit to raise a child.
During the process, a caseworker will visit your home. They’ll discuss your personal history, lifestyle, interests, and childcare experiences. They will also interview any other residents of your home.
4. Waiting for a match
Depending on your type of adoption, there may be a waiting period after you’re approved to adopt. For instance, if you’re adopting through an agency or internationally.
This can be a difficult time, as prospective parents can’t do anything to speed up this part of the process.
5. Complete the placement period following a match
After you’ve been successfully matched with a child, you enter the placement period of the adoption process. During this time, you’ll meet regularly with a social worker or caseworker. They will visit with you and the child to ensure everyone is adjusting properly.
During this time, the agency and social worker will also work on the required legal paperwork to finalize the adoption. Additionally, the birth parent typically has at least 30 days to change their mind about adoption, which occurs during this time frame.
This portion of the adoption process can vary from six months to a year, depending on the state and any additional regulations.
6. Finalizing the adoption
Once you’ve successfully passed the placement period, a judge will legally finalize your adoption and sign the official adoption papers. A new birth certificate and social security card for your child will be mailed to you, listing you as the legal parents.