These simple adoption steps can help launch your adoption journey.
The truth is, the idea of pursuing adoption can be very overwhelming! And, many people just don’t know what adoption steps they need to take. Some prospective adoptive parents give up before they even get started. I understand! It’s a lot to think about. Where do you begin? Well, I’m here to tell you that if you just take it one step at a time, it’s A LOT less overwhelming.
You may be thinking… “But, what steps do I take? What exactly should I do to begin the process?”
Below, I outline 5 simple adoption steps to get you started. These basic stepping stones could take you farther along your journey than you can even imagine.
But before you read any farther the first step is to pray. Pray right now and every day for God’s peace and guidance as you embark on this exciting journey.
Then, dive in! Follow these simple steps and see where it leads you.
1. Basic Research
If you haven’t already started researching, decide on a starting point to gather more information.
Will you research online?
Speak to some friends who have already adopted?
Read some books?
Attend a free informational meeting at your local adoption agency?
Or, maybe a combination of all of these?
Just start with one and go for it! You’re not committing to anything at this point. You’re just learning more to see if this is the right fit for you and your family.
Our journey started by doing a little research of our own and eventually attending an informational meeting. If you’d like to read more about our adoption journey, I go into quite a bit of detail here.
Or, if you’d prefer to listen, here’s a podcast episode where I share some intimate details about our journey and the adoption steps we took to make it happen.
2. Realize that you don’t have to have it all figured out to get started.
This might not seem like an adoption step but it should be so let’s make it one of yours! And, hold on to it throughout your entire adoption journey.
Don’t get too wrapped up in all the details in the beginning. Adoption can be overwhelming. But any worthwhile goal, when taken step by step, is very doable.
You may already have some idea of whether you want to adopt a younger or older child and you may be considering domestic or international adoption. Or, maybe you have no idea. But, don’t feel like you must have this ALL figured out in the beginning.
Just start to think about these things. (More about exactly what “these things” are in step 4)
We started the process thinking that we were going to adopt from China but after attending an informational meeting, we made the shift to pursuing domestic adoption. It’s OK to just start gathering information, even if you’re unsure if you’ll move forward on that particular path.
For more information on adoption costs and different types of adoption, check out this post.
3. Read Some Books On Adoption
This is a great way to learn more and prepare for the journey. These can include practical how-to’s or books of encouragement. Just start with whatever speaks to you. There is no right or wrong here. Here are some great options. Just pick one or two to get started.
4. Start to think about the type of adoption you’re interested in.
The fourth adoption step is to start thinking about what type of adoption you might be interested in. Again, you’re just starting to gather information at his point. You don’t have to make any solid decisions just yet.
But, the adoption process can look different for each type of adoption. So, start to consider the following questions so you begin to get an idea of what the next steps might look like.
Would you like to consider adopting a baby or an older child?
One thing to consider here is that a “waiting child” refers to a child who’s older, part of a sibling group, or has a pre-identified medical condition. Often times, these adoptions happen faster whereas your wait will likely be longer if you choose to adopt an infant. Obviously this is a very personal decision and one that you will want to decide based on what you want your family to look like.
Are you interested in adopting domestically or internationally?
Domestic adoption (or private domestic adoption) refers to the placement of U.S.-born infants for adoption by their birth parents, who legally consent to the adoption with an adoptive family of their choosing.
International adoption is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parent(s) of a child who is a national of a different country. In general, prospective adoptive parents must meet the legal adoption requirements of their country of residence and those of the country whose nationality the child holds. And don’t forget to breath! This terminology might be new to you, but don’t let that steal your momentum. Here is a link to some adoption terms to help.
Will you adopt privately or through the state foster care system?
Adoption from the foster care system can happen in two ways. Foster adoption or fost-adopt, is a form of adoption in which a child is placed into a home as a foster child, with the expectation that the child will become legally free and be adopted by the foster, parents.
Private adoption is one of the most common types of adoptions, especially when it comes to that of infant adoption. In private adoption, the birth parent, or parents, voluntarily place their child for adoption, often choosing the family with whom they will place their child. Birth parents can either find a family on their own through word of mouth or profile searches, or via the help of an adoption agency or attorney..
Are you open to adopting outside of your race?
Interracial adoption (also referred to as transracial adoption) refers to the act of placing a child of one racial or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another racial or ethnic group.
Would you consider adopting a child exposed to drugs or alcohol or even with known medical issues?
A couple of things you might want to research if you’re considering adopting a child with exposure is fetal alcohol syndrome and opioid exposure.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition affecting a child due to the consumption of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy.
Some of the most common effects and symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, or fetal alcohol abuse syndrome are shown below:
- Low body weight
- Poor coordination
- Hyperactive behavior
- Difficulty with attention
- Poor memory
- Difficulty in school (especially with math)
- Learning disabilities
- Speech and language delays
- Intellectual disability or low IQ
- Poor reasoning and judgment skills
- Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
- Vision or hearing problems
- Problems with the heart, kidneys, or bones
- Shorter-than-average height
- Small head size
- Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
Opioid use and medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in some newborns. NAS is a group of conditions that can occur when newborns withdraw from certain substances, including opioids, that they were exposed to before birth. Withdrawal caused by opioids during the first 28 days of life is sometimes also called neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS). Signs of withdrawal usually begin within 72 hours after birth and may include the following:
- Tremors (trembling)
- Irritability, including excessive or high-pitched crying
- Sleep problems
- Hyperactive reflexes
- Yawning, stuffy nose, or sneezing
- Poor feeding and sucking
- Loose stools and dehydration
- Increased sweating
Are you interested in open or closed adoption?
Basically, are you open to having any sort of communication with the birth parents? (Note: After years of thinking I could only ever consider closed adoption, I’m a huge advocate of open adoption now so don’t write it off too fast!)
Open adoption is a form of adoption in which the biological and adoptive families have access to varying degrees of each other’s personal information and have an option of contact.
As an example, in our adoptions we have contact with the birth mom. I text her pictures and let her know how the kids are doing. Sometimes we correspond via email and we even get together occasionally. We are very open with our children that they are adopted and they know that she is their birth mom. She is very important to all of us and it’s very special that she is in our lives. Because of that, our kids have a big piece of their life’s puzzle filled in. It is up to us and as long as it’s a healthy relationship, we are very happy with our open adoption arrangement.
Closed adoption is a process by which an infant is adopted by another family, and the record of the biological parent(s) is kept sealed. Often, the biological father is not recorded—even on the original birth certificate.
Here are a couple of additional posts to help you understand more about open vs closed adoption.
Related: What is the difference between Open and Closed Adoption?
Related: What Are The Benefits of Open Adoption?
Having an idea of your answers to these questions will help determine your next steps.
As you move forward, these initial thoughts may change but it helps to have an idea of what you’re considering as you research. And, just remember that things change. We started out very confident that we would pursue closed adoption. But, after learning more, we decided we were OK with open adoption and now… we can’t imagine it any other way.
And, at this point, if you haven’t already, you may want to include others in your adoption journey such as an agency or adoption lawyer so you can get a clearer idea of what’s next. Depending on what type of adoption you decide to persue and whether or not you decide to work with an agency will determine your next steps.
5. Think About Finances and start formulating a plan
Sadly, this is where a lot of people get stuck. Many types of adoption are quite expensive. If we had let this stop us we would have never adopted. Thankfully, after SO. MUCH. RESEARCH. we figured out how to gather the funds.
Between our two adoptions, we gathered about $35,000! And, much of that $35,000 was from adoption grants & fundraising!
Are you going to require financial assistance? Many families do! If so, this would be a good time to start researching options.
If you’re interested in learning the details of how we raised so much, I’ve written a funding adoption guide. It covers adoption fundraising, grants, loans, and, overall budgeting help. You can learn more on this page.
I hope these 5 simple steps help you take some action. Even the simple act of picking up a book on adoption can turn into more than you ever dream!
Let me know what first step you’ll take. Leave a comment below.
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