Bringing Families Together for Over 30 Years | Monday – Friday, 8AM to 5PM
Available by Phone 24/7 409.230.0436
Title Picture

Adoptive Parents: Where Do I Start?

The question of how to start the adoption process is one that every Adoptive Family has at the beginning of their journey. With all of the different types of adoption, ways to adopt, and paperwork that is required where is the best place to begin?

There are many different ways to form your family through adoption including foster to adopt, privately matching, working with one agency, working with multiple agencies and working with a consultant, just to name a few. We always recommend doing 3-6 months of research before starting the process or signing with an agency. Agency adoption is not right for everyone, maybe you want to try privately matching or matching through social media first. Maybe you want to try foster to adopt or find a consultant or attorney first. These are all options that need to be explored before a dime is spent and the wheels are set in motion. Once you get that train rolling, it is hard to stop. 

One process we do recommend starting sooner rather than later is the process of making a profile book. No matter what type of adoption you plan to do you will likely need one. Additionally it can be time consuming and as soon as you are home study approved you will want be shown to potential cases right away. There are many examples of these online and the agency, attorney or consultant you work with should be able to give you some pointers. Most important is just to be honest and true to yourself and to your family. This should be an accurate portrayal of your life. 

The next step is to start looking into potential agencies, attorneys or consultants. An important distinction to note is that agencies do not need adoptive families, agencies need expectant and birth parents. However, you should still be treated with kindness and respect in your journey. While agencies do not necessarily need you, they do want compassionate loving families that are diverse and open. They want a good group of families so that their expectant and birth families preferences can be matched and so they can feel that they truly have a choice. 

Covid changed the adoption world in a variety of ways. Including wait times and matching. A lot of agencies are overloaded and might possibly have a long wait time or a closed list. Therefore they might not have an opening for you at the time you are ready to start the process. This is not because you are not important, they do not want to work with you, or they do not have placements happening. The wait time and limited lists are a direct result of the fact that there will always be more families that are looking to adopt then there will be expectant parents that are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their child. The closed or limited lists are also put in place to ensure a one on one working experience with your case worker as well as the shortest active wait time possible.

During the agency exploration phase make a list of questions you want to ask each agency that are important to you. This could include how many placements or families they work with at any given time or how long their home study process takes, but more importantly ask about their services for expectant and birth parents and make sure you fully understand the fee structure and the matching process. Every agency has a different fee structure, make sure the agency you choose to work with is completely transparent about their fee structure and that it fits in to your budget. The matching process can be effected by this fee structure so this is very important. Make sure you are working with an agency that primarily matches based on preferences of both sides and personality rather than upfront fees. Ensure the agency you are working with won’t have any “undisclosed fees” or “contingent fees” that could sneak up on you.

Once you have a list of agencies you are interested in working with you can either complete your home study with one of the agencies or you can use a private home study provider. When agencies are limited on list space they are much more likely to accept a family who has everything ready to be active. Additionally, home studies have to be updated yearly and that costs money, so you want to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row before completing this process.

Red flags: Agencies that can promise a specific wait time, large up-front fees with no clear refund policy, agencies that do not provide services to expectant parents, agencies you cannot get on the phone, individuals that do not want to work with an agency or law office, scammers on social media.

If you are ever concerned about an agencies policies or procedures or with how they are treating adoptive families or expectant parents, find the licensing entity for that state and contact them.

*As we are only experts on agency adoption, we mainly focused on voluntary, domestic infant adoption in this blog.

*The sentiments expressed in this blog represent Cradle of Life Staff and/or Clients and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or policies of all adoption agencies.