Adoption can be a complicated process with a lot of moving parts — which can sometimes make getting started a little intimidating. How do you know you’re really ready to take the plunge into the world of adoption? What can you do to prepare?

The best way to learn more about adoption and what you’ll need to get started is to contact an adoption specialist for free information. In the meantime, going through this adoption preparation checklist is a good place to start:

Learn about adoption.

This should always be at the top of the checklist for parents considering adoption. Learn as much as you can about the adoption process and make sure you’re fully educated before committing to this path.

To fully prepare yourself for adoption, you should:

Assess your emotional readiness.

Before starting the adoption process, make sure you can mark all the boxes on this emotional adoption preparation checklist:

  • Move on from infertility, if applicable, and fully grieve any dreams of having a biologically related child
  • Talk to your spouse about your adoption goals to ensure you’re both on the same page
  • Be as excited about starting the adoption process as you would be to conceive naturally
  • Familiarize yourself with the adoption process and mentally prepare yourself for the joys and challenges ahead

If you are struggling to come to terms with your infertility and embrace adoption, you may want to consider reaching out to an infertility counselor. When you get started with American Adoptions, your adoption specialist will also be available to provide the emotional support and counseling you need throughout this process.

Make sure you meet adoption requirements.

There are a few basic requirements that all hopeful parents must meet in order to adopt, so you will want to take these steps to ensure you’re prepared for adoption:

Even if you’re not sure that you meet the requirements to adopt, don’t be discouraged. American Adoptions makes exceptions to our agency requirements on a case-by-case basis, so contact us to learn whether adoption with our agency might still be an option for you.

Create an adoption support system.

Adoption is not a journey that can be taken alone. If you’re getting serious about pursuing adoption, it’s important to make sure your loved ones are prepared, as well. Here’s what you should consider about your adoption support system as you work through your adoption preparation checklist:

  • Decide who you’re going to tell about your adoption decision and when
  • Be prepared to educate your loved ones about the realities of modern-day adoption
  • If you have other children, explain adoption to them and make sure they understand what’s happening
  • Research local and online support resources like adoptive family support groups
  • Start building a community with other adoptive parents and diverse family types, especially if you’re pursuing transracial adoption
  • Create a plan for childcare for when you bring your new child home

Make a plan to pay for the adoption.

Adoption can be costly, and it’s important to prepare for these expenses before you start the process. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re financially prepared for adoption:

Complete the adoption home study.

The adoption home study can be one of the most involved and time-consuming parts of the entire process. Your adoption specialist can help prepare you for this step when you’re ready, but it’s never too early to start planning for this important adoption requirement.

You can find a full adoption home study checklist here, but these are the basics to help you get started:

  • Contact an adoption home study provider in your state (your American Adoptions specialist can refer you to a trusted professional)
  • Gather important documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, paystubs, reference letters and more
  • Schedule your home visits and interviews with your social worker

Start making preparations for a new child.

At the same time you’re preparing for the adoption process, it’s important to start preparing for your next step: parenthood! Exactly when and how you start prepping for your new arrival may vary depending on your individual adoption situation and comfort level. In general, though, here are some things you can do to prepare for parenthood during the adoption process:

  • Ensure you have a bedroom or designated space for your new child
  • Start purchasing the basic necessities you’ll need before your baby’s arrival (including diapers, bottles and minimal clothing)
  • Consider preparing a nursery or doing other “nesting” activities once you know more about your specific adoption opportunity
  • Pack the necessities you’ll need when it’s time to travel to meet your child; once you are “active” and awaiting the call, it could happen at any time

This checklist for parents considering adoption is somewhat lengthy — and could probably be far longer. But while this adoption preparation may feel overwhelming at the beginning, know that it will all be worth it in the end.

For more information about how to prepare for the adoption process, or if you need help determining whether you’re ready to adopt, contact an adoption specialist now at 1-800-ADOPTION.