The Adoption Process
What steps are involved with adoption?
Learn about the requirements involved in the adoption process — to help decide if adoption is right for you.
In today’s adoptions, the pregnant woman is in control of much of the adoption process, from picking an adoptive family to creating her own adoption plan and hospital plan.
If you are considering adoption for your child, these are some steps to expect during the adoption process:
1. Focus on Having a Healthy Pregnancy
Throughout the entire adoption process, the primary concern is the wellbeing of the child.
First, you’ll need to confirm your pregnancy with a doctor. If you are indeed pregnant, you should begin receiving prenatal care immediately. You will see your doctor once every month until your 28th week of pregnancy, when you will see your doctor more frequently.
Be sure to take prenatal vitamins, eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and avoid alcohol, cigarettes and other substances. If you are on any medications, check with your doctor to make sure they are safe to take while pregnant.
2. Decide if Adoption is Right for You
Right after learning of an unplanned pregnancy, it is rare for a woman to feel certain that adoption is right for her. The decision often takes time and support from family and friends as well as adoption counseling before a woman is sure that adoption is right for her and her baby.
If this describes you, know that you can get help. Many adoption professionals provide free adoption counseling to help women like you better understand adoption.
Although your adoption professional will help you create your adoption plan, it is important to begin thinking about your preferences as you research adoption professionals, which will help you know which adoption professional is right for your adoption plan.
3. Complete Your Adoption Plan
Forming an adoption plan will help you, your adoption professional and the adoptive family prepare for how you envision the rest of the adoption process.
If you are working with an adoption professional, they should help you understand the parts of the adoption process that you have control over, including:
- Your choice of adoptive family
- The contact you want before placement
- The contact you want after placement
- Involvement from your friends, family and the father of the baby
- Your hospital plan
Remember that an adoption plan is never set in stone and can always be changed as the adoption process progresses.
4. Choose an Adoption Professional
Adoption professional is a general term used to describe any person or organization that completes adoptions, such as national and local adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, adoption law firms and facilitators.
Whether you choose to work with an adoption agency or prefer to find an adoptive family on your own (called an independent adoption), all adoptions require an adoption attorney’s involvement to legally complete the adoption.
Choosing the right adoption professional is important because it will determine the types of adoption services you receive, including 24/7 support or counseling, living expenses, the number and types of adoptive families you can choose from, and the contact you can have with the adoptive family.
Before selecting an adoption professional, you should research the different types of adoption professionals and the different services offered by each. For example, a national adoption agency will likely offer different services than an adoption attorney, but two national adoption agencies may offer different adoption services as well.
5. Choose an Adoptive Family
In today’s domestic adoptions, the birth parents have the opportunity to select the adoptive family.
If your adoption professional provides matching services, they will usually give you a selection of adoptive family profiles. This selection of families will match your adoption plan and the type of family you are seeking.
Factors and characteristics of adoptive families that may interest as you select a family may include:
- Location (urban, suburban or rural)
- Other children
- Extended family
- Hobbies and lifestyle
- Amount of contact
If you have already identified the adoptive family, you will still need an adoption attorney to legally complete the adoption.
6. Participate in Pre-Placement Contact
Pre-placement contact with the adoptive family often helps pregnant mothers feel more comfortable about the adoptive family they’ve chosen and the adoption itself.
There are a number of kinds of pre-placement contact, including:
- Conference calls
- Email exchange
- Agency-assisted meetings
- Phone calls
- Pre-placement visits
7. Baby is Born
The hospital plan is a major part of your adoption plan and will determine how your hospital stay and delivery is carried out.
You will be able to choose which members of your support system will be at the hospital, if the adoptive family is in the delivery room, if you want to spend time with your baby and if you want to leave the hospital with the adoptive family.
Having a hospital plan in place before the baby’s birth allows the hospital staff and the adoptive family to prepare for your hospital stay.
8. Family Adopts/Post-Placement Contact
After your baby is born, you will sign the adoption paperwork to make the adoption legal. The birth father’s parental rights will likely be terminated at this time as well.
Based on your arrangement with the adoptive family, you will begin post-placement contact, which may include emails, letter with pictures, phone calls and even visits.