How Does Adoption Work?

The Adoption Process Step-by-Step

Step 1: Initial contact

It is very important to educate yourself about adoption and research all of your options. Working with an adoption professional you can trust and feel comfortable with will make all of the difference. When you are ready, the first step is to make contact with an Adoption Specialist who can answer all of your questions, explain your options and help you decide if adoption is right for you and your baby. American Adoption’s specialists are available 24 hours a day at 1-800-ADOPTION to answer your questions. Your contact with American Adoptions will be kept confidential. You can also request an information packet here

Step 2: Information Packet

You will receive either by mail or e-mail helpful information about the adoption process along with some forms to fill out about yourself. These forms are similar to medical background information you may provide at a doctor’s visit. This information will be used confidentially and is the first step to complete to begin working on an adoption plan. If you have any questions regarding the information packet or background forms, an adoption specialist will be glad to assist you. Many women ask if they are committing themselves to choosing adoption by filling out this initial paperwork and the answer is no, you are simply telling us you are ready to begin exploring and creating an adoption plan. You will not sign any legal adoption paperwork until after the birth of your baby. If you wish to complete the initial paperwork to get started with American Adoptions now, click here.

Step 3: Explore Adoption with Your Adoption Specialist.

One of our adoption specialists will explain the adoption process to you and answer your questions while exploring more about your situation so she can help you figure out what is the best choice for you and your baby. You might find some of the articles below helpful during this stage of the process.

Who Chooses Adoption?
Help with Financial and Medical Expenses
Will My Child Hate Me?
Michelle’s Adoption Story
Things to Consider
Where to Start?
American Adoptions' Advantages

Step 4: Creating an Adoption Plan

If adoption seems like the best choice for you and your baby, then your Adoption Specialist will begin talking with you about your adoption plan. At American Adoptions, we build an adoption plan around your wants and needs in whatever timeline you are ready.

Below are just a few examples:

  • You can select the adoptive family for your baby or
  • You can ask your specialist to select a wonderful family for you.
  • You can choose to meet the adoptive family.
  • You can talk with the adoptive family on the phone or by email.
  • You can choose a closed adoption or a more open adoption where a continued relationship is developed between you and the adoptive family.
  • You can receive letters and pictures of the baby.
  • You can receive face-to-face counseling.
  • You can receive help with medical bills.
  • You can receive help with housing or living arrangements.
  • You can talk with birth parents and/or adoptees to learn about their personal experiences (click here to watch video)


Step 5: Baby is Born

When your baby is born, your Adoption Specialist will review your adoption plan with you and make sure everything is happening in the way that you want. Often, many different emotions are felt during this time. Your Adoption Specialist will prepare you ahead of time for what to expect and will also prepare the hospital ahead of time so they are aware of your adoption plan and your wishes during your hospital stay.

Step 6: The Adoptive Placement

This occurs after the baby is born. You will have worked with your Adoption Specialist to get everything ready up to this point. As long as you are still comfortable with your adoption plan it would be at this time that you would place the baby with the adoptive family. In most situations, the baby can be placed directly with the adoptive parents upon discharge from the hospital. This can be a tough emotional time for everyone and American Adoptions will make sure to provide support and guidance. It is important to remember and review why you have chosen adoption, and understand that your feelings are normal and expected. Your Adoption Specialist will help you through this time and make sure that you feel comfortable with placement.

You will usually sign the legal adoption documents at time of placement although the process can vary from state to state. Your Adoption Specialist will explain more details about the process in your state so you can be prepare. Your Adoption Specialist will want to make sure you understand everything as it happens.

Step 7 Post-Adoption Services

Over the next few days and months, it is common to feel many different emotions. It is important to stay in touch with your Adoption Specialist who can help you understand and process these emotions. It is important to understand that choosing adoption is a life long decision and therefore, it will affect you throughout your life. Because of this, it is important to acknowledge your emotions and understand the benefits of continuing to receive proper support. Many women find it helpful to receive counseling, join support groups with other birth mothers, receive photos/letters and or emails from the adoptive family, and work on goals such as continuing education. (You can visit our scholarship page here)

A birth mother, Lisa touches upon the emotions and insights that many birth mothers have.

“I chose adoption for my child because I wanted my son to have a father who was ready to be involved in his life. I wanted a middle class family who was ready to be parents, who was ready to shower him with love and opportunity. I chose adoption because I loved my child. I made the sacrifice for my child and I miss him very much, but I know in my heart the family I chose will give him a much better life than I ever could have. I receive letters and pictures and I see the joy in his eyes and that makes me know I made the right choice for him. It may be hard sometimes on me but it was the right choice for him.”

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