Adopting a child is usually done in the following steps:
You select a home study provider in your home state to prepare your home study. A social worker will go over the adoption process and usually meets with you several times and writes a report. The social workerís job is to make sure you are a fit parent and your home is a good environment for your new child. Usually the fire department does an inspection of your house. They may check for smoke alarms, water temperature, etc. You may need employer references, etc. You do not have to pick which country you are adopting from yet. Also, your home study agency is usually in your state, but does not have to be affiliated with your adoption agency. Usually a home study is valid for 12 months. You need this for both domestic and international adoption.
Decide what country to adopt from or domestic adoption
File for form I600A-www.uscis.gov for approval to adopt a foreign orphan for foreign adoption. Fingerprinting is typically required to complete the submission.
Pick an adoption agency
You do not have to select your adoption agency before you begin your home study! Take the time to educate yourself about adoption and know what you want from your adoption journey before selecting an adoption agency. And, donít forget to interview multiple adoption agencies so you can make sure youíve found the right fit for you.
Prepare for Dossier
The dossier is paperwork that is prepared to be sent overseas. Many things may be in your dossier. Letters from your doctor stating you are healthy, background and criminal checks, employer letters, etc. These papers will need to be notarized, certified, and apostilled.
Get Childís Referral
This is when the big time starts. The childís referral is given to you by your adoption agency. It is a short 2-3 page summary of information on your child. Each country does their referrals differently. Some referrals include the birthmotherís age and date of birth, why child was placed for adoption, medical checkups and prognosis of the child, any history of drug or alcohol use of the birthparent, apgar scores, head circumference, medical measurements, etc. You may also receive a video and/or pictures. Ask for as much information as you can get.
If you are serious about your referral, this is when you should have an international specialist review all the information for you. The international specialist will probably tell you if they think the child is low risk, medium risk or high risk. Ask as many questions as you can. Low risk does not mean that the child has no minor issues, but from the information they have seen, they donít see any major issues.
This is the time when you can accept the referral or ask for another referral. This is a very emotional time for most parents. I will go into more details of the referral stage in the Leap section of this web site. Some people go thru only 1 referral, others go thru 5 referrals. Any good adoption agency will tell you that the number of referrals people goes thru varies enormously.
Accept a referral
This is when you decide that you will adopt the the child you have chosen.
Travel to see the child
Each country has their own restrictions on travel. Some countries require 2 trips of travel whereas other countries will have an escort bring your child to you.
Meet your child for the first time
This is when you finally get to meet your child-THE BIG TIME
Post Placement Services
These reports are done to report back to the country of origin on how the child is doing. Usually they are done at 6, 12, 24, etc months after returning home (although this varies with what country you adopt from). Usually there are 2-4 reports total. These are not optional-they are typically required.