When you’re considering growing your family through adoption, the process can seem overwhelming at the beginning. There’s a lot you need to learn about adoption before starting the process and, fortunately, our adoption specialists are available at 1-800-ADOPTION to answer whatever questions you may have.

However, many people ask, “Why do adoption agencies have such an intensive list of requirements before someone is cleared to adopt?”

We understand that the process to become active with an agency can be a long and involved one. But American Adoptions and all adoption agencies require all of these processes for a reason — they protect everyone involved (especially the children at the center of the adoption) from physical, mental and emotional harm before and after an adoption is complete.

At American Adoptions, our priority is making sure that all members of the adoption triad are protected throughout the adoption process. Therefore, we require certain standards to be met in order to reach this goal. While these requirements can sometimes lead to a lengthy process for prospective adoptive families, our adoption specialists will help them through every step of the adoption clearance process so they have the support and guidance they need.

Here’s why prospective adoptive parents have to take certain steps before they can adopt a child:

Home Studies:

Home studies are not just an American Adoptions requirement; state laws require that all prospective adoptive families go through this same process. While the home study process can be lengthy, it’s because there are so many aspects that a social worker must explore before deeming a prospective family fit to adopt. Not only will a social worker need to confirm prospective parents’ basic mental, physical and emotional ability to raise a child, she also must confirm adoption-specific parenting requirements (like addressing adoption as a child grows up, preparation for a transracial placement, etc.).

Pregnant women who consider adoption want to make sure that the home they’re placing their baby with is safe and supportive — and the rigorous requirements of a home study help ensure them of that. But a home study isn’t just an investigation; it’s also an opportunity for prospective parents to ask questions and learn how they can continue to prepare for bringing an adopted child home.

A Minimum Adoption Budget:

One of the questions those who are unfamiliar with adoption frequently ask is, “Why is adoption so expensive?”

Although the total cost of adoption may seem extensive when it’s first presented, minimum budget requirements are important to creating an adoption process that’s completed safely and efficiently. By setting a minimum adoption budget, we can provide prospective adoptive parents the emotional and practical support they need. Rather than completing complicated bureaucratic requirements on their own, adoptive parents can trust their adoption specialists to take care of these instead.

Another reason why adoption can be expensive is because of the needs of the prospective birth mother. When a woman chooses adoption for her unborn baby, we want to make the process as easy as possible for her so she feels confident in her adoption decision. This means providing her financial assistance with living expenses, 24/7 counseling and more. The more safe and supported a prospective birth mother feels, the less likely she will be to change her mind about adoption — and the more likely you’ll be placed with the perfect baby for you.

Adoption Planning Questionnaire:

To make sure that your adoption process is completed smoothly and we meet your adoption goals, we require you to fill out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ). This form details your adoption preferences, including cultural background of the child you adopt, the amount of contact you want to share with birth parents and more. By determining these preferences ahead of time, we can reduce your wait time and only present to you adoption opportunities that meet your desires. This is an important step to protecting everyone’s rights in the adoption process and ensuring all members of the adoption triad end up in an adoption situation they’re comfortable with.

The more open and flexible your APQ is, the shorter your adoption wait typically lasts.

Adoption Profiles:

American Adoptions also requires that prospective adoptive parents complete a paper and video adoptive family profile. This can seem like an extensive process, but it’s instrumental in helping prospective birth mothers find your family. By seeing photos and videos of you, a woman considering adoption can determine whether you might be the right fit. These profiles make it more likely that you will be selected by a prospective birth mother quicker than through an agency without these profile requirements. In the end, it’s a requirement we have that directly benefits you.

Even after a placement is made with an adoptive family, there are still some additional requirements to be met. Like with your pre-adoption requirements, your adoption specialist will help guide you through these processes so you can focus on what’s important — bonding with your new baby.

There are very good reasons that these post-adoption requirements exist.


The Interstate Compact on the Adoption of Children is another requirement that is set by the government, not just American Adoptions. Babies and children are more frequently than ever adopted across state lines but, because each state has different adoption requirements and laws, ICPC is the legal process that makes sure the laws of both states involved are met. ICPC can be one of the more frustrating parts of the adoption process because it requires adoptive parents to remain within the birth mother’s home state for up to several weeks post-placement, but it’s immensely important in protecting the safety of the baby involved. This way, adoption professionals can be sure that an adoption process has been completed with all the safety requirements met, reducing the chance that an adoption will not be approved after a child has already been placed.


The last requirement before your adoption can be completed is the legal process known as finalization. While it may seem extraneous to go through another legal requirement about six months after your baby has been placed with you, the finalization process is another step to making sure the completed adoption is in the best interest of all involved. A judge will ask you questions about the legal steps you took to adopt your baby, as well as how you are all adjusting to your new life together. (You may also need to complete post-placement visits, depending on your adoption situation.) Finalization is the last step to ensuring that an adoption was completed safely and legally to protect the interests of you, your child and your child’s birth mother.

We understand that the process to becoming an active prospective adoptive family can seem extensive, but it’s important to understand that these requirements are in place for a reason — to create a safe and smooth adoption process for all involved. Adding a child to your family is not a decision to be made lightly, and we know how much hope you set in this process. That’s why we take these extra steps to make sure that your adoption process is not only tailored to you but is handled efficiently and comes with the happy ending you’ve been dreaming of.

For more information about our requirements and why we’ve set these standards, please contact our adoption specialists today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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