The following information is an explanation of the steps in the adoption process. These steps are the same for every adoption entity.
Step 1 – Choosing Adoption
Adoption is often chosen when infertility makes having a biological child an impossible dream. It is usually the main reason couples choose adoption. Infertility treatments are available but can often be very expensive and are not always successful, depending on the reason for infertility. If this describes your situation, it is important to make a healthy mental transition from infertility and treatment and the dream of having a biological child to fully accepting adoption as a way to grow your family. The assistance of a counselor, or an Adoption Specialist, is sometimes necessary to help couples move on from their struggle with infertility.
Whether you are a couple, single, or same-sex couple, there are other ways to parenthood, including sperm, egg donors, or a gestational surrogate mother. When all other options fail, many people turn to adoption and wish they had explored this avenue earlier.
Step 2 – Selecting the Type of Adoption
Adoptive families can decide which type of adoption they are interested in pursuing. The decision is based on several factors.
Do you want to adopt domestically or internationally?
Adopt privately or through the state foster care system?
Adopt a newborn or an older child?
Have any kind of contact with the birth parents?
Receive medical information about the birth parents?
The private domestic adoption process refers to the placement for adoption of U.S.-born infants by their Birth Parents. The Birth Parents legally consent to the adoption with an adoptive family of their choosing.
Florida Adoption Center specializes in private domestic adoptions of newborn babies. We encourage Birth Parents to take an active part in choosing an Adoptive Family for their child. We recognize, Semi-Open and Open Adoptions are the most beneficial for all parties. Continued contact between the Adoptive Family and Birth Parents through the adoption process helps create a more secure adoption and allows for medical histories and medical records to be shared for the eventual benefit of the child.
Step 3 – Choosing an Adoption Professional
Oftentimes, Adoptive Families inaccurately believe all adoption professionals provide the same adoption services with the same levels of success. This is not true. It is essential to ask questions of the adoption entity before making a decision. Cost should not be the only consideration. The Florida Adoption Center has made a conscious effort to make our fees as affordable as possible while giving value for money. We believe you will find us more than competitive. We have also structured our program in such a way that we maximize our success and minimize the chance of disruption. Factors to consider are price, wait times, disruption rates, hidden fees, financial protection, amount of support provided, education, and guidance. We ask you to consider this information because we want you to make the correct choice upfront to save yourself time, money, and heartache.
Step 4 – Home Study Process
A home study is required in every domestic, international, private, and state adoption. The Home Study is an in-depth overview of the Adoptive Family’s life and circumstances. It ensures the Adoptive Parent/s are emotionally and financially stable enough to make suitable parents for an Adoptive Child.
The Home Study is a compilation of State and Federal criminal background checks and financial, personal, psycho-social, and medical information. Adoptive applicants will be interviewed by one of our Adoption Specialists, and we will conduct an in-home inspection to ensure residency and safety. The home study process may seem long and tedious, but it is necessary and required to ensure prospective adoptive parents are ready, fit, and able to parent an adoptive child.
Step 5 – Completing an Adoptive Parent Profile
Adoptive families will be asked to produce a Profile Book. This is the Adoptive Parent’s opportunity to present themselves to Birth Parents as suitable parents for their child. The Profile gives a snapshot into the lives of the Adoptive Parents. Birth Parents look at the profiles as the first step in selecting an Adoptive Family. The Profile is usually a collection of photographs and a narrative that tells the family’s story. Some people also include an open letter to Birth Mothers, introducing themselves and expressing their feelings about adoption. Adoptive parents can also make a video to put on a disk, which can be shared in addition to the profile book. When producing a Profile, it is important to remember this may be the only opportunity to “sell” the family to the Birth Parents. After looking through a selection of profile books, Birth Parents will be given an opportunity to meet with prospective Adoptive Parents in person. It is important to know some Birth Mothers do not want personal meetings, which may mean the profile book may be the only information a Birth Mother sees.
We will help you with ideas on what to include in your Profile, showcase your unique qualities, to give the Birth Mother a picture of the life her child will have as a member of your family.
Step 6 – The Waiting Period
Waiting for a Match is probably the most difficult time. This is the period after the application, background checks, training, and home study process have been completed. This is after you have spent endless hours agonizing over what to include in your profile. This is usually when friends and family constantly ask how things are going and when you will be “getting a baby.” The waiting period is difficult; wondering if today is the day you will get the call. At this point, there is nothing the Adoptive Parents can do to speed up the process. Therefore, it is better to concentrate on getting on with life as we do our job to facilitate the perfect Match.
We believe in providing regular updates and contacting our Adoptive Families regularly to reassure them they are not forgotten about and that we are working hard on their behalf. We stress it is important not to put life completely on hold during the waiting period. Stress is bad for everyone, so we advise continuing or taking up healthy pursuits to keep busy during this period. This method of coping is healthy. Adoptive families who can put the waiting time into a healthy perspective will be happier in the long run.
How long will it take to adopt a child?
The simple answer is it depends. The wait time depends on several factors, some of which Adoptive Parents can control and others which they cannot. Generally, Adoptive Parents who will only consider a Caucasian child have a longer wait. Those willing to adopt an African American or bi-racial child will have a considerably shorter wait.
The background checks, pre-adoption training, and home study can usually be completed within a few months providing we are given all required information in a timely and organized manner.
Step 7 – The “Match” and Getting to Know You – Contact with the Birth Parents
Birth Parents usually look over many Profiles before choosing one or several sets of Adoptive Parents to meet or correspond with. They may request an opportunity to telephone or Skype with Adoptive Parents before a personal meeting is arranged. They may not do any of these things as every situation is different. However, once Birth Parents have identified and chosen a suitable Adoptive Family for their child, usually based on the Profile, we say a “Match” has been made. Once a confirmed “Match” is made, the Adoptive and Birth Parents may go on to get to know each other better. We believe that giving the Adoptive Mother a chance to get to know the Adoptive Parents, building a connection, and maintaining contact during the pregnancy is a healthy way for the Adoptive Mother to become comfortable and committed to the Adoption.
The Agency facilitates all contact between the parties to maintain boundaries and protect confidentiality. This process has to be respected by all parties. In an Open or Semi-Open adoption, it is important to establish boundaries and rules for ongoing contact, as this contact will potentially continue until the child reaches adulthood.
Step 8 – Post-Placement Supervision
Once Consent papers have been signed by the Birth Parents, usually, at the hospital, it is our preference for the Adoptive Parents to take the child home once the baby has been discharged from the hospital. Once a child is placed in the care of Adoptive Parents, the Law requires Post Placement Supervision. Post-Placement Supervision requires the Adoption Agency to visit with Adoptive Parents and the baby in their home. At this time, we check that all parties are settling down well and that the baby is safe and thriving. The Agency will write a report on the familys progress which will form part of the file which goes to the Court at Finalization. Post-Placement Supervision is a straightforward process. However, it is complicated when Adoptive Parents live in a different state from where the baby was born. Adoption Agencies must follow the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) rules in these cases. ICPC still requires Post Placement Supervision, which means contracting with another Agency for those services.
Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC)
In cases where a baby is born in a different state from the state where the Adoptive Parents reside, the newborn is free to leave the hospital in the care of the Adoptive Family. However, the Adoptive Family must remain in the state where the baby was born until the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperwork clears, which usually takes between 7 to 10 business days. Once ICPC paperwork has been completed, the adoptive family will have their Post-Placement Supervision, visits, and reports, completed by an agency in their home state. Post-Placement Supervision continues until Finalization.
Step 9 – Finalization
The finalization hearing is the Judges final review of the adoption and ensures all necessary documentation is in order and Post-Placement visits were completed. Additionally, where applicable, the Judge checks all ICPC rules were complied with and that both birth parents’ parental rights were legally terminated. When the adoption hearing is finished, the adoptive family is granted legal custody of the child and awarded the adoption decree. At this point, the domestic adoption process is complete.