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Steps to Adoption

The following is a general overview of how to start the adoption process with American Adoptions. If you have any questions about the information listed below, please contact our staff at 1-800-ADOPTION.

Step 1 - Initial Information

After an adoptive family has studied and researched information about American Adoptions' programs, policies and services, the adoptive family should begin the application process to join the agency. During the application process, the adoptive family will submit to the agency the application form and fee.

Step 2 - Receipt of Stage 2 Information

Once an adoptive family's adoption application is received, they will immediately be sent American Adoptions' Stage 2 Packet. This packet contains four pieces of adoption materials. Three of these items will need to be completed and submitted to American Adoptions. The fourth item is the Preparing for a Successful Adoption manual, which needs to be read in its entirety by every prospective family before they continue with the process. This manual contains information to assist the adoptive family with the completion of the Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ), home study and family profile. The three items are not always completed in the same order and may be submitted separately as the adoptive family completes each one. However, all three must be completed and provided to the agency before a family may become active. The materials you will receive are:

  • Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ)
  • Adoption Home Study Packet
  • Family Profile Development Kit
  • Preparing For A Successful Adoption manual

As the adoptive family completes each step outlined above in Stage 2, they are submitted to American Adoptions for review and completion.

Step 3 - Preparation and Completion of Paperwork

Home Study -

Completed By American Adoptions:

If the adoptive family resides in a state in which American Adoptions holds a license and our agency is completing the home study, the home study application needs to be submitted along with the Home Study Fee. Upon receipt of the application and fees, American Adoptions will assign a social worker to complete the home study. The adoptive family will be contacted by the social worker to begin the home study process. The home study social worker will complete the home study and assist the adoptive family with collecting all necessary supporting documents. Once the home study process is complete and all supporting documents are gathered, this item is complete.

Completed By Another Agency:

If the adoptive family is completing their home study through an agency other than American Adoptions, American Adoptions will provide a checklist to the home study provider so all pieces can be complete according to our agency's policies. Once the home study is complete and all supporting documents are collected, these documents will need to be submitted to American Adoptions along with the $200 Home Study Review Fee for domestic families ($500 for international families). American Adoptions will review the home study within two business days after receipt. At that time, the adoptive family or home study provider will be contacted via e-mail regarding any items that are still incomplete and needed to complete the review process. Once the review process is complete, this item is complete.

*Note: this process often delays families from activation, so it is very important to provide our checklist to your home study provider immediately and encourage them to contact us with questions.

Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ)-

Upon agency receipt of the APQ, the adoptive family will be assigned to work with an Adoptive Family Specialist who will assist them through our adoption process from beginning to end. The Adoptive Family Specialist will contact the adoptive family via e-mail to arrange a teleconference to review the APQ. During this call, the adoptive family will be provided feedback from the Adoptive Family Specialist about their preferences listed on the APQ and estimated wait times. The adoptive family may choose to change their APQ if they wish after speaking to the Adoptive Family Specialist. The adoptive family will also get to review the questionnaire portion of the APQ with the Adoptive Family Specialist to receive more guidance and feedback about the adoption process. Once the review is completed with the Adoptive Family Specialist, this step is complete.

Family Profile Development Kit-

Upon receipt of the profile information and Profile Fee, the adoptive family will be assigned a Media Specialist who will work with them to complete an adoptive family profile. The Adoptive Family Specialist will review the profile and provide feedback and suggestions. The adoptive family will then be e-mailed the profile proof so the family may make changes if desired, or give their approval to utilize the finished version of the profile. Once the adoptive family has approved their profile, this step is complete.

Once all 3 items are complete, the Adoptive Family is ready for activation.

Step 4 - Activation

After the adoptive family has successfully completed all required documentation and everything has been reviewed by American Adoptions, the adoptive family will be e-mailed the agency's Activation Agreement. This is the contract between American Adoptions and the adoptive family for adoption services. It outlines the services American Adoptions provides and also outlines the guidelines every adoptive family needs to follow. The adoptive family will need to print, sign, notarize and return the Activation Agreement to American Adoptions along with the Activation Fee (if applicable to the program the family is applying to).

*Note: No other fees are collected by American Adoptions until the adoptive family is matched with a birth mother.

After American Adoptions receives the Activation Agreement and fee, the adoptive family will be activated within 24 hours of receipt. The adoptive family will be sent notice via e-mail that they are active with the agency. After activation, the adoptive family profile will begin being distributed to prospective birth mothers immediately.

Step 5 - Congratulations, You are now a waiting family

The adoptive family is now an active member of the American Adoptions' family. Next, the adoptive family will receive a finished copy of their family profile, home study (if completed by American Adoptions) and a survey to provide feedback to American Adoptions. We are always trying to improve our services so feedback is appreciated. The adoptive family is now in a waiting period until a match occurs and results in a successful adoptive placement. This time frame varies for every adoptive family. During this time, the adoptive family will have contact with their Adoptive Family Specialist who can provide suggestions and feedback, but contact with the agency will be lessened until a match occurs. The adoptive family will receive a bi-weekly newsletter via e-mail. (If you are not receiving the newsletter yet, please contact us so we may sign you up.) The adoptive family should maintain normal routine as well as continue to educate and prepare themselves for their adoption journey.

Step 6 - Match With A Birth Mother / Placement

Once a family has been matched with a birth mother, they are placed inactive and are no longer shown to other potential birth mothers because everyone is working toward a successful adoption with this particular match. During the match, the adoptive family will work with their Adoptive Family Specialist as well as the Birth Parent Specialist until the baby is born. Once the baby is born, placement occurs, all required paperwork is filed and eventually the adoptive family returns home with their baby.

*Note: The adoptive family will receive more information to prepare for this stage of the process while they are waiting to be matched and at the time of a match. The Preparing for a Successful Match manual is provided at the time of a match with a birth mother to provide further education to the adoptive family.

Step 7 - Post Adoption Services / Finalization

After the family returns home with the baby, American Adoptions or the agency that performed the home study will complete post-placement visits in the home per court regulations. After the specified time frame has passed and all documentation has been collected, a final court hearing will be set by the finalizing attorney and the final adoption decree will be awarded.

*Note: Adoption is a progression of information so more details about post-placement procedures and finalization of the adoption will be provided during the match process. State laws and procedures vary to such a degree that it is better to provide the adoptive family with this detailed type of information when it is known what state the adoption will be occurring and more direction can be given.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

Additional Resources

Adoption Newsletter

Did you know that American Adoptions offers a free bi-weekly e-newsletter? Sign up today to keep up-to-date on the latest in adoption news and information.

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