How to Adopt a Child in Missouri
Adopting a child in Missouri can be a life-changing journey. The process can be complicated, and there are sure to be challenges on the way. But, you know the saying: Most things worth doing aren’t easy.
Are you looking to adopt in Missouri? If so, you probably have a lot of questions. You’ve come to the best place to find answers. This complete guide on how to adopt a child in Missouri is for anyone considering adoption as their family-building option.
We’re going to take a look at all of the most important information you need to know before beginning your process, including:
- The different types of adoption
- The adoption professionals that make the process happen
- The steps of the adoption process in Missouri
- And how you can begin your journey
Ready to learn more about the Missouri adoption process and figure out which type of adoption is right for you? Let’s get started.
Which Type of Adoption in Missouri Is Right for You?
Did you know that there are several types of adoption? This is one of the first big decisions you’ll need to make if you are considering adopting a child in Missouri. The type of adoption you choose will determine the requirements of your process and, ultimately, the future of your family.
When it comes to options, there are three primary ways to adopt a child in Missouri.
Domestic Infant Adoption
When you imagine adoption, do you dream of holding a newborn in your arms? Of meeting your child for the first time mere hours after their birth? Of the possibility of an important and long-lasting open adoption relationship? If so, then this could be the right way for you to adopt a child in Missouri.
Domestic infant adoption, which is also called private adoption, involves the placement of newborn babies with hopeful adoptive parents. In this process, a prospective birth mother chooses adoption (of her own volition) while pregnant and works with an agency to create a plan for placement.
On the other side of the equation, hopeful adoptive parents also work with an agency to fulfill the requirements for adoption in Missouri, create an adoptive family profile, be selected by a prospective birth mother and, ultimately, receive an infant placement.
Think this type of adoption could be right for you? Read our detailed guide on domestic infant adoption in Missouri.
Foster Care Adoption
Another way to adopt a child in Missouri is foster care adoption. This route is the most common way to adopt in the Show Me State, and it is quite different from domestic infant adoption.
Do you think that adopting an older child, a sibling set or a child with special needs could be right for you? Do you feel a special calling to meet the needs of a waiting child? If so, then foster care adoption could be a great way to start or grow your family.
You can learn more from our complete guide to foster care adoption in Missouri.
Two ways to adopt in Missouri involve the adoption of children from the U.S. But, what if you have a sense that the child for your family is in a different country? There are millions of children around the world waiting to experience the love of a family through adoption, and international adoption is a way for you to meet their need while fulfilling your dreams of parenthood.
This adoption process in Missouri is very different from the other two. It involves complex international laws, travel logistics, the immigration process and the unique challenges of raising a transcultural family. But ask any parent who knew international adoption was right for their family, and they’ll tell you it’s all worth it.
Could international adoption be the path to your family’s future? For more information, take a look at our guide to international adoption in Missouri.
Which type is best for you? It’s a personal choice. Evaluate the pros and cons of each in light of your own circumstances, needs and desires. There’s not a “best” type of adoption — just a best type of adoption for you.
Choosing a Missouri Adoption Professional
Got your type of adoption? Awesome. You’re well on your way to adopting a child in Missouri. Your next decision is equally important: Which type of adoption professional will you work with?
The Missouri adoption process is complicated, and you’ll need support throughout your journey. These adoption professionals can provide the services required to successfully complete your adoption in Missouri.
However, as you’ll see, there are some key differences depending on the type of professional you choose. When you are adopting a child in Missouri, you could choose to work with:
The most popular type of adoption professional for families in private adoptions, agencies are licensed organizations that provide vital services for those seeking to adopt a child in Missouri (as well as prospective birth mothers seeking to place a child for adoption).
A significant benefit of choosing an adoption agency is that, of all the types of professionals, they are best-equipped to provide the most comprehensive services throughout the Missouri adoption process while also being held to the highest legal and ethical standards through strict licensing requirements.
Agencies typically specialize in one type of adoption. So, you can find an agency specifically for your domestic infant adoption, foster care adoption or international adoption.
Attorneys usually work in conjunction with agencies to help families complete their placement. While some attorneys advertise the ability to provide matching services, most stick to providing specific legal support, rather than being the primary adoption service provider.
Adoption Law Centers
Law centers act similarly to agencies for hopeful parents working to adopt a child in Missouri, with one significant difference: They are not licensed like agencies are. This means that you can find many of the same services — assistance creating your adoptive family profile, advertising to find an adoption opportunity, pre-placement contact support, etc. — but you cannot find the same guarantee of legality and ethical practices.
This is not to say that adoption law centers are inherently untrustworthy. To be sure, many do provide great services. However, it is important to know the risk of working with a service provider that is not fully licensed.
While some families adopting a child in Missouri may choose to work with adoption facilitators, it is highly discouraged. Of all available professionals, facilitators have the least regulatory oversight and have, at times, put families in tough situations. However, you are likely to find ads and websites of facilitators when searching for more information on how to adopt a child in Missouri. Check with your adoption attorney to ensure that any facilitator you might consider working with is a legal option in Missouri.
The Missouri Adoption Process
You’ve got your type of adoption and your adoption professional, but how do you actually start the adoption process in Missouri? With the guidance and support of your adoption agency (or other professional), your next steps will look something like this:
Step 1: Complete the Home Study
Each type of adoption requires a home study, which is a review of your living situation and adoption readiness by a licensed social worker. If you work with a full-service adoption agency, then your agency will most likely be able to provide this service. Otherwise, you will need to find a home study provider.
Preparing for the home study as your work toward adopting a child in Missouri? Make sure to use this helpful checklist.
Step 2: Wait
Once you complete the home study (and a few other preliminary requirements, like your adoptive family profile), you’ll wait. You don’t really do anything at this step, but it can be the most challenging part of the adoption process in Missouri. The length of your wait will depend on your agency, your type of adoption and, honestly, a bit of luck.
Step 3: Accept an Adoption Opportunity
When the time comes, you’ll get one of the most exciting phone calls ever. Your adoption specialist will let you know that an opportunity has come up, and you’re ready to move forward.
The way your adoption opportunity occurs will depend on your type of adoption. In a domestic infant adoption, a prospective birth mother will choose you for her baby. Foster care and international adoption are a bit different, since you will be matched directly with a child, not a prospective birth parent.
It will be up to you to accept the opportunity and proceed toward adopting a child in Missouri.
Step 4: Conduct Pre-Placement Contact
Although unique to domestic infant adoption, this step is too important to leave out. Did you know that most modern adoptions are at least semi-open? This means that you will have the opportunity to get to know the prospective birth parents pre-placement when you are adopting a child in Missouri.
This relationship can help strengthen everyone’s commitment to the adoption and set the foundation for an important, long-lasting relationship.
Step 5: Prepare for Placement
The whole Missouri adoption process builds to the moment you are finally placed with your child. It is a truly incredible day in the life of a family.
Depending your type of adoption, you may meet your child in the hospital, at your front door, or at their care center in a different country. Whatever the case, placement can be full of unexpected emotions, both joyful and challenging.
Step 6: Complete Finalization and Begin Your New Journey
Finalization is the last step of your journey to adopt a child in Missouri. It is also the beginning of a new journey.
Finalization typically occurs six months after placement. There will be a series of post-placement visits to observe how everyone is doing, and a social worker will write a report based on these visits. At your finalization hearing, a judge will review this report and other required documents (that your attorney and agency will help you prepare). Then, the judge will issue your final decree of adoption, and your process of adopting a child in Missouri will be complete!
It’s important to note that every process is different. Your circumstances, the life of the prospective birth mother (if applicable) and the needs of the child all come together to create a totally unique journey. While these big steps will outline your Missouri adoption process, be prepared for the joys and challenges that will come to define your personal journey.
Learn More About How to Adopt a Child in Missouri
Ready to begin the adoption process in Missouri? You can begin by researching and contacting possible adoption professionals. Or, if you are still seeking more information before getting started, contact us today. We would be happy to put you in touch with a helpful adoption specialist.