Home » Adopting » Adoption 101 » Adoption Process – How to Adopt a Child to a New Family

Adoption Process – How to Adopt a Child to a New Family

Adoption can change your life, and this complete guide to the adoption process will teach you how to get started today. 

If you are a pregnant woman looking for more information about the adoption process and how it works for you, follow this link to learn more.

If you: 

then the adoption process could be for you, and this guide will give you everything you need to know. 

If you’d like to speak with an adoption professional now, you can click here to contact us online. In the meantime, here are the 7 most important steps in how the adoption process works. 

How the Adoption Process Works   

Step 1: Decide the process is right for you

Step 1: Decide the Adoption Process Is Right for You [The Benefits of Adoption] 

Let’s be clear: This is one of the biggest choices you’re ever going to make. 

It’s completely normal to feel excited, scared, and everything in between when you are thinking about the adoption process. How can you go from nervousness and uncertainty to confidence and hope? By learning about the benefits of the adoption process and understanding how it works for you. 

What are the benefits of adoption? 

Adoption creates control out of crisis. For women experiencing unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, adoption provides structure, support and safety. Through agency support, adoption financial assistance, access to resources and more, adoption can empower women to make a brave, loving choice for their baby. Similarly, hopeful parents caught in the cycle of grief, frustration and hopelessness brought on by infertility can breathe fresh hope into their dreams of starting a family through adoption.  

Adoption creates loving families. Family is more than biology — it’s love. If you have dreamt of starting a family and found that more “traditional” means won’t be a part of your story — or if you feel a sense of calling to the adoption process — then this could be the shape of your family’s journey. And it’s only possible because a woman makes a brave, loving choice to do what is best for herself and her baby. Coming together, adoptive families and birth parents do something amazing. 

Adoption creates bright futures. Children who are adopted are deeply loved. They are the star of their parents’ lives. Through the adoption process, children experience the love, security and opportunity that a wonderful family can provide.  

Scott Mars, an adoptee who went on to found a national adoption agency, put it this way: 

“My mom and dad were a couple who weren’t able to become a mom and dad without adoption. Of all people in this world, my mom and dad deserve to be parents. And without adoption, they would not have been able to share their love, share their life, and give someone the life that I had. 

“Because of adoption, my life was filled with love and opportunity.” 

Does that ring true for you? Let’s move on to step two. 

Step 2: Find the best adoption agency

Step 2: Find the Best Adoption Agency [The Most Important Step] 

You cannot complete the adoption process on your own.  

That’s the simple truth. This process is complex. There are requirements, regulations, laws, filing deadlines, mountains of paperwork — so how in the world do you do it? With the support, guidance and services from the best adoption agency. 

Choosing the best adoption agency might be the most important decision you make in the entire adoption process.  

  • The right agency can help you experience the best version of your adoption process. 
  • The wrong agency can cause headaches, long wait times, dashed hopes and even legal problems. 
How do you find the right adoption agency? 

Every situation is unique. What’s best for you may not necessarily be best for someone else. But, with that being said, there are some characteristics that all of the best adoption agencies have.  

Here’s what to look for when it comes to choosing your agency for the adoption process: 

  1. Stability: Larger, national agencies tend to operate with more stability. That’s good for you. Years like 2020 taught us that anything can happen. Unfortunately, many small adoption agencies (and even some larger ones) were not prepared for that. They shut down or became unreliable. When you’re considering an agency, ask about their year-over-year placement numbers, how long they have been operating, and how many clients they work with at once. With a larger agency, prospective birth parents will have more adoptive family profiles to look through, adoptive parents will have shorter wait times, and everybody will have more confidence. 
  2. Experience: A social worker who has helped complete more adoptions will be more prepared to help you have a successful adoption process. But, there’s another layer of experience. How does the adoption agency you’re considering include the experiences of adoptive families, birth parents and adoptees on its staff? Representation matters, and agencies with staffs made up of people who have personally experienced adoption can offer the best support. 
  3. Availability: You’re going to have some late-night and early-morning needs. Will your agency answer the phone? Some agencies cut off at office hours, but the best agencies will be there for you 24/7. That’s what you need during the adoption process. 
Which agencies can help me complete the adoption process? 
Step 3: Make the connection that changes your life

Step 3: Make the Connection that Changes Your Life [Finding an Adoption Opportunity] 

Women facing an unplanned pregnancy can find and choose a family who will love, protect and cherish their baby for their entire life. 

The adoption process doesn’t work like it used to. There’s no “giving a baby up” for adoption and wondering what happened to them. In the modern-day adoption process, the prospective birth mother is in charge. She gets to choose a family she believes will be perfect for her family. 

How do you find the right adoptive family for your baby? 

If you’re a prospective birth mother, you can make this choice.  

The adoption process involves picking the family you think will be best for your baby. Your adoption agency will help you do this. 

You’ll look through adoptive family profiles (these usually have letters, photos and, sometimes, videos) until you find the perfect family. Depending on the agency you work with, you might have only a few profiles, or you could have dozens. This is another reason that many women choose larger, national adoption agencies for their adoption process. 

If you’d like to look through adoptive family profiles right now, you can click here. 

How do you find a baby to adopt? 

For adoptive families, receiving an adoption opportunity can go a few different ways. 

  1. You can be selected a prospective birth mother in a private adoption. 
  2. You can be placed with a child through the foster care system. 
  3. You can receive a referral for an international adoption placement. 

How this goes for you depends, of course, on the type of adoption you choose. Regardless, the moment you say “yes” to an adoption opportunity is the moment your life changes forever. 

Develop a relationship through pre-placement contact

Step 4: Develop a Relationship Through Pre-Placement Contact [Increase Your Adoption Confidence] 

The majority of adoptions today are open. 

That’s surprising for many — but it’s true. If you choose to start the adoption process, then the odds are that you’ll find yourself participating in some form of communication with the other side — whether you are a prospective birth mother or a hopeful adoptive parent. 

What is open adoption? 

Open adoption is a relationship. Like every relationship, the closeness will be different in each situation. Some people talk weekly, while others may check in month-to-month, and still others less frequently than that. Open adoption creates a lasting connection between the birth parents, adoptive family and child that has significant benefits for everyone involved in the adoption process. 

Why are open adoptions so common? 

Because of the benefits. 

  • The majority of birth parents and adoptive families in open adoptions report positive experiences, and those with more openness tend to be more satisfied with the adoption process. 
  • Research has shown that children who have ongoing contact with their birth parents are more satisfied with their adoptions than those without contact.  
  • Openness allows adopted children to better understand the reasons for their adoption, promotes more positive feelings toward their birth mother, provides them with information that aids in identity formation, and more. 

The modern-day adoption process is almost always open. But, if you are a prospective birth parent, you do have the final say. Your adoption process can be as open (or closed) as you want it to be. 

Is there support in the adoption process for open adoption?  

There can be, if you find the best adoption agency. A full-service adoption agency will be there for you when it comes to parts of the adoption process like open adoption.  

You should ask any agency you are thinking about working with if they provide support for open adoption. 

  • Have they helped others navigate this relationship? 
  • Do their staff members have any personal experience being a part of open adoption relationships? 
  • Does their support last beyond placement? 

You’re going to have a better adoption experience if you work with an agency that provides the best (and longest-lasting) support. 

Step 5: Follow the hospital plan

Step 5: Follow the Hospital Plan [How to Complete Placement]  

The hospital stay can be overwhelming, but you’ll have all of the support you need. 

When you’re a prospective birth mother, you’ll create a hospital plan for this part of the adoption process. Your adoption agency will help you make the plan, pick a hospital, receive the financial assistance you need to cover all medical expenses, and more. 

Adoptive families need to be ready to follow this plan. What can you do during this time?  

  • Stay patient 
  • Stay calm 
  • Be encouraging 
  • Get ready 

You’re about to meet and hold your baby for the first time. It’s a life-changing moment for everyone. 

Step 6: Finalize the adoption

Step 6: Finalize the Adoption [Receiving the Official Certificate of Adoption] 

Placement isn’t the end of the adoption process, because the adoptive family still needs to complete their adoption finalization 

It’s a little different for everyone, but there are basically three steps. 

  1. Complete your post-placement visits. 
  2. Attend your finalization hearing. 
  3. Request the follow-up paperwork, like an amended birth certificate. 

Your adoption agency and attorney will be there to walk you through these three steps as you complete the adoption process 

Step 7: Build a better future

Step 7: Build a Better Future [With All the Support You Need] 

Adoption is about you — no matter who you are. It’s about birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees. It’s about everybody building a better future. 

You deserve to experience happiness, to see your dreams fulfilled, and to become who you are meant to be.  

As one birth mother put it 

“Even though adoption was the hardest decision I will ever make in my life, [my agency] also made it the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.” 

Life after the adoption process (much like all of life) is full of ups and downs.  

  • Women who place their babies for adoption can experience difficult emotions, even when they know that adoption was the best choice.  
  • Parents raising children through adoption may encounter unique conversations about heritage and identity.  
  • Children who were adopted can have stories full of distinctive joys and struggles. 

Through all of it, the right adoption agency will be there to provide post-placement support. Sometimes this looks like education materials; other times it may be references to helpful professionals and more.  

No matter what form it takes, your adoption agency (if they are the best agency) will continue providing support after the adoption process is over. With that support, you can have everything you need to build a bright future and create the life you deserve. 

Starting Your Adoption Process 

Is adoption always easy?  

No.  

Is adoption always worth it?  

Absolutely. 

And that’s how the adoption process works. You know everything you need to get started today. And if you’re ready to get started, you can click this link to contact us. We’ll connect you with a helpful adoption professional today.