What I have referred to as one of the least enjoyable tasks of the adoption process is also one of the most crucial. I have a three-inch binder dedicated only to keeping track of the paperwork we have completed for our adoption. Taking a peek inside that binder reveals hours and hours of necessary applications and procedures in order to bring us to where we are today as we await the time when all that paperwork pays off.
If you’re considering adoption or starting the process, those mounds of paperwork can seem overwhelming. Here’s a glimpse into our experience with the adoption paperwork to help you better prepare for the journey ahead:
Home Study Agency Paperwork
The infinite trail of documents began for us when we went to our local home study agency to get our feet wet in the ocean of adoption. We had not even committed to any agency or the type of adoption we were seeking, but we completed a preliminary application for adoption services, which was the least invasive form we have completed thus far. But just when I thought, “That was easy enough,” we were handed an eight-page questionnaire concerning details about our family, our history, health, parenting style, the type of home we live in, and the type of adoption we desired, just to hit the high points. Each question was open-ended and required much thought from us to answer sufficiently.
Next, my husband and I were each given a seven-page document to describe in detail each of our lives from birth to our present age. Our families were combed through; education, employment, health, relationships, lifestyle, significant life events, and finances were all put into question as a potential adoptive father and mother. To go along with these forms, as a family we completed a financial information form that itemized each of our payments, debts, and income as well as a letter from our bank referencing our good standing to ensure we would be financially stable to adopt.
We were also required to complete a multitude of background checks before any services could be rendered. We each filled out applications for our state’s criminal background check, the child abuse and neglect investigation, the FBI background check that included fingerprints, and even health background checks to ensure the well-being of all family members. Our home study agency also required us to give four names of references that would vouch for our character as we proceeded to adoption.
In addition to all of the paperwork we were asked to fill out, we had to provide copies of everyone’s birth certificates, our marriage certificate, a copy of our most recent income tax return, our driver’s licenses, and copies of our health insurance cards. These only required the locating and gathering of each item.
Adoption Agency Paperwork
All the above paperwork was completed in hopes that once they finalized our home study, we would be approved to continue in the adoption process. That paperwork was merely checking into whether we would be suitable for adoption. Now, once we started applying to agencies to be chosen by a prospective birth mother, another trail of paperwork commenced.
We completed applications, signed client agreements, and reviewed and approved payment plans, just to name a few. The applications for an agency working to match our family with a potential birth mother were much more specific to the desires we had for the child that would be placed in our home, the type of openness we would welcome in our adoption, the budget we discussed for adoption fees, and a whole slew of questions identifying each and every aspect of our lives from the big events to the smallest detail. These applications not only helped the agency know who we would be best suited to parent, but also aided in the creation of our profile book to show prospective birth mothers. The more detail we could provide, the easier a birth mother’s decision would be to connect with specifics of our family.
In the event that any of the paperwork you complete expires (background checks and home studies have expiration dates) or your family experiences a change that was not reflected in your original paperwork (birth, death, job change, etc.), then forms will need to be resubmitted with updated information. This has also happened to us because we gave birth to a daughter since we originally started our adoption process, I changed jobs, and we bought a minivan (which doesn’t seem significant but changes our financial details). We have learned, sometimes the hard way, to make sure we stay on top of any changes or specific dates that each of our forms represents so that we are always ready and approved to be considered for a situation that arises.
Paperwork is no fun. It brought no joy to us to sit at our kitchen table night after night as we began this process to complete what seemed like endless mounds of papers, some asking the same questions over and over. However, when we changed our perspective to see that one day we would look back at this seemingly daunting task of muddling through paperwork and be so grateful for the journey it began for us, we can see ink-stained glimmers of hope on those many, many pages.
Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.