National Adoption Month is all about spreading adoption awareness. Brush up on the basics and do your part to educate others by sharing these five commonly asked adoption questions.

  1. Who can adopt?
    State laws dictate who can adopt. In general, any single adult or married couple jointly is eligible, as long as they pass the necessary back ground checks and complete a home study. Some states have age, residency or other requirements.
  2. What is the adoption process?
    The adoption process begins when prospective adoptive parents fully embrace and commit to adoption. The family will need to consider the type of adoption they want to pursue (infant, older child, domestic, international, etc.) and the type of adoption professional they’d like to work with. Once the parents have made these decisions, their adoption professional will help them complete the necessary steps to become an active waiting family, including completing a home study and background checks. From there, the family will need to advertise to prospective birth mothers, either independently or through an adoption agency.

    Once a prospective birth mother chooses the family for her baby, they will likely have pre-placement phone calls or meetings to get to know each other. When the baby arrives, the adoptive family will travel to the hospital and follow the birth mother’s hospital plan. The birth parents will sign the adoption papers after the appropriate amount of time has passed, and the adoptive family can take the baby home.

    If the family is adopting across state lines, they will need to remain in the baby’s birth state until the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is finalized — often 7–10 business days. Following placement, a home study social worker will perform a series of visits to the family’s home to check on the baby and new parents. Once the post-placement assessment is finished, the adoptive parents will attend a finalization hearing, where they will be awarded legal custody of the child and the adoption decree. In open and semi-open adoptions, the adoptive family will continue to maintain contact with the birth parents throughout their child’s life.

  3. What is the difference between open and closed adoption?
    There is no single definition for open adoption, but in general, open adoption refers to any adoption relationship between the adoptive family and birth parents in which contact and identifiable information, such as first and last names, addresses, phone numbers and personal email addresses are shared. Today, most adoptions are semi-open, meaning that the birth parents and adoptive family share contact, such as pictures and letters or phone calls, but do not exchange identifiable information such as last names, phone numbers, etc. This contact is usually mediated through the adoption agency. Closed adoptions are increasingly rare. In these arrangements, very limited contact and information is exchanged. The adoptive family still receives medical records but very little else.

    It is highly recommended that birth parents and the adoptive family maintain some level of contact. More open adoption arrangements have been shown to be beneficial for all members of the adoption triad — the adopted child, birth parents and adoptive parents.

  4. Why is adoption so expensive?
    The overall cost of adoption can vary significantly based on several factors, including whether the family adopts through a domestic adoption agency, an international adoption professional or the foster care system, as well as variable medical, legal and living expenses that are required to complete the adoption.

    Because a variety of services are required to complete an adoption, adoption costs can be significant. Learn more about American Adoptions’ costs and services.

  5. Can birth parents change their minds and get their children back?
    It is a common misconception that birth parents can change their minds about adoption and return after an adoption is complete to reclaim their child. Birth parents can change their mind up until they sign the consent forms when the baby is born and during a revocation period following relinquishment. Revocation periods vary by state but are never more than 30 days. Once an adoption is finalized, the decision cannot be reversed, and birth parents understand that.

Have more burning adoption questions? Check our FAQ page, and check back in with the blog throughout the month to learn more about adoption.