General Information about the Adoption Process and What to Expect Along the Way
Engaging in the adoption process is a wonderful thing to do for many different reasons. Not only are the adoptive parents making a difference in the life of the adopted child but they are enriching their own lives as well. Whether the prospective parents are looking to adopt because they are unable to have biological children or if they are choosing to adopt to bring a new special person into their lives, it is a process which is wonderful yet involved as well. For this reason, it is important to go into the adoption process with some general background information in mind and that way the prospective parents will be better prepared for this adventure of a lifetime. As the adoption process differs whether it is a domestic adoption (inside the United States) or an international adoption (outside of the United States), the following paragraphs will describe the process according to each type of adoption.
The Wonderful World of Domestic Adoption
The first thing that the prospective parents need to do is to decide on an adoption agency with whom to proceed with the adoption process. There are a few different ways to go about finding an adoption agency. The first and perhaps the best way to obtain an adoption agency is to ask for recommendations from friends and family members. As adoption is becoming more and more common these days, oftentimes one will already know an individual who either has gone through the adoption process themselves or has a friend or relative who has adopted. Recommendations are beneficial as they give the prospective adoptive parent an inside track not only on what agencies are available but also which agencies are good and which are not so good. One can also find an adoption agency by utilizing the Internet or the yellow pages and make some visits to local adoption agencies to see if they are the type of agency one is looking to use for the adoption process.
Once a domestic adoption agency has been settled on, it is then time to get down to business. There will be an initial meeting at the chosen adoption agency where the prospective parents will be informed as to the specific procedure regarding domestic adoption and how that particular agency goes about procuring a child for adoption. As is inevitable, there will also be a number of forms to fill out which will tell the agency a little bit more about the prospective parents and the prospective parents will learn a little bit more about the agency’s protocol and procedure.
After all of the initial information has been collected by the adoption agency staff, some adoption agencies require the prospective parents to attend some classes on adoption through their agency. Much of the information received at classes of this sort are for the benefit of the parents in that they try to make the prospective adoptive parents as informed as possible, not only for the benefit of the prospective adoptive parents but for the welfare of the prospective adoptive child. This way, if upon hearing all that is entailed in the adoption process the parents wish to pursue other options, it is beneficial that this occurs in the very beginning of the process.
The next step in the adoption process is having a home study done, usually by a licensed social worker. The home study is where a number of things occur. This procedure includes numerous interviews between a counselor and the prospective adoptive parents, both together and individually. Also included in the home study are home visits, more forms and educational classes. The home visits are done in order to ensure that the living environment is suitable for a child and that the adopted child is going to a safe, loving home. In addition to the home visits, part of the home study requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks of the parents-to-be. Again, this is to ensure the safety of the child. References and medical history may also be requested.
Once the home study is complete and the individuals have passed with flying colors, the next step in the process is to match the prospective parents up with the child whom they are going to adopt. The staff at the adoption agency has been working on this match all along. They will by now know the adoptive parents preferences and have done the research to make the perfect match.
The next to last step in the domestic adoption process is the placement of the child with the adoptive parents. This is a very emotional part of the process and the adoption agency staff will most likely be there all the way for the needed support.
Finally, one would think that the adoption process ends at placement; however, there is one final step which is the follow up. This is beneficial for a few different reasons. First, the agency wants to make sure that the child is in good hands and is adjusting well. Secondly, it is good for the parents to know that they will not be entirely on their own once the child is placed with them. They will undoubtedly have a number of questions that they hope someone can answer for them and the adoption agency provides the follow up visits in order to provide this support for the adoptive parents.
International Adoption Is a Great Alternative to Domestic Adoption
The other way in which to go about adopting a child is through an adoption agency that specializes in international adoption. International adoption is when the parent or parents adopt a child from one of many different countries overseas. The international adoption process has some of the same steps as domestic adoption has; however, there are some more steps included when dealing with an international adoption.
As with domestic adoption, the first step is to choose an adoption agency. One can choose to go with an adoption agency that deals only with international adoptions or pick one that performs both domestic and international adoptions. Those agencies which specialize strictly in international adoptions may have a leg up as they deal exclusively in this type of adoption and may know the procedure better than an agency that does mainly domestic adoption and then dabbles briefly in international adoption. However, this is only one thing to consider as many agencies that deal in both types of adoption are highly qualified to do international adoptions. It is up to the prospective adoptive parents to decide what type of agency they would be most comfortable dealing with.
Once an agency has been selected, the prospective parents must then fill out the necessary paperwork, file the oftentimes required consultation fees and meet with the adoption agency counselor for the first time. At this initial meeting, the parties will discuss all of the relevant details concerning international adoption including what it entails, timeline, costs and more. This is the best time for the adoption agency counselor to let the clients know what adoption is all about and make sure that the prospective parents are up for this very important job.
If the consultation was a success and the prospective parents decide to continue in the process, then the international adoption process is officially underway. At this point in the process, some international adoption agencies, or adoption agencies in general for that matter, will require the parents to attend educational classes regarding adoption. If the agency does not require the attendance at such a class, then the home study is the next big thing on the list.
The home study for international adoption is similar to that which occurs in domestic adoption. The parents-to-be will undergo interviews, home visits and a background check to make sure that their home is the perfect place to raise a child and that they are the perfect individuals to do so. While the home study process is taking place, the adoptive parents need to take care of some things specifically related to international adoption which include picking the country from which they want to adopt a child and may sometimes need to attend classes relating to international adoption specifically. At this point, it is important to apply for a United States passport if it has not already been done.
Once the home study has been successfully completed, the next hurdle to jump is that of the foreign country documentation. When completing international adoption, there are a number of forms which need to be filled out as required by the foreign country. This is referred to as the dossier. This can include a number of items such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, employment records and references to name but a few. The INS I600A form should also have been completed and submitted by this time as it takes months to process. Once all of these items have been collected and submitted, the next step is to select your child.
This is known as the referral process where the parents-to-be choose the adoptive child. Once the specific child has been chosen and the parents really start to experience the extreme excitement and anticipation about meeting their new addition to the family, the parents are in the home stretch and can start making their travel arrangements to go and pick up their child. The adoption agency will help with the travel arrangements and many times a counselor and/or other staff member from the agency will travel to the foreign country for the initial meeting. Frequently, this makes it a bit easier on the parents knowing that they have someone with them every step of the way.
When the much awaited time arrives to go and meet one’s child for the first time, the journey begins and the special time is here where parent(s) and child meet. After the hugs, tears and necessary paperwork is once again filled out with the proper agencies, the family may return home to the United States.
Once back home, the adoption agency will make a few post-adoption visits to ensure that all is well. They will also offer any further help that they can and possible further adoption education classes may be available. As for final paperwork, once back in the United States the parents need to see about readopting the child in the United States and obtaining pertinent citizenship documents.
Which Type of Adoption Is Right For You?
In a nutshell, these are the general procedures associated with both domestic adoption and international adoption. When individuals are considering adoption, they may wonder whether domestic adoption or international adoption is the better choice. The answer to this question is it all depends. There are pros and cons associated with both types of adoption.
With regard to domestic adoption, some of the pros and cons are as follows. When one looks at the positive aspects to domestic adoption they will see that this type of adoption is oftentimes less expensive than international adoption. Not only does the individual not have to pay for travel expenses but the cost that is often spent on payments to the other country’s orphanage for example can raise the price a bit. There is also the added cost of filing fees for foreign documents to be submitted. Another advantage to adopting domestically is that the parents-to-be may be able to adopt newborns this way. With international adoption, it is not easy to adopt newborn babies due to time issues and the fact that a lot of children adopted internationally come from orphanages in their origin countries.
As for the negative aspects of domestic adoption, it is harder to adopt domestically than internationally. There are so many children overseas who need a good home and people who wish to adopt internationally have a better chance of obtaining a child this way. Another negative factor to adopting domestically is that the adoption criteria is oftentimes more stringent which may make it more difficult to adopt within the United States as opposed to internationally.
When looking into the pros and cons of international adoption, the positive aspects of adopting on an international basis include having a choice of adopting a boy or a girl, being able to choose the country in which to adopt the child from and giving a home and providing a loving atmosphere for a child who really needs one. Some of the cons related to international adoption include extra expenses, oftentimes lack of background and medical history on the child and possibly poor health of the child due to lack of good healthcare.
Whether individuals choose to adopt domestically or internationally is a personal decision. Regardless of which method one chooses, the result remains the same which is providing a loving family environment for a child who so desperately needs one. Not only will this make a world of difference to the child but to the adoptive parents as well. Adoption is a wonderful avenue to pursue for individuals who wish to add a loving child to their family.