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The Domestic Adoption Process [Complete Guide to How Adoption Works]

6 Steps to Adopt a Baby to a New Family - And Why They Matter

The adoption process is beautiful because it can change your life and give a baby the loving family they deserve.

Whether you’re a hopeful parent or a prospective birth parent, the adoption process can be one of the most amazing things you’ll ever do. The way this process can change not only your life, but the life of a child you love, is truly incredible.

Take it from Scott Mars, the founder of American Adoptions, who is an adoptee himself:

“My mom and dad were a couple who weren’t able to become a mom and dad without adoption. Of all people in this world, my mom and dad deserve to be parents. And without adoption, they would not have been able to share their love, share their life, and give someone the life that I had.

“Because of adoption, my life was filled with love and opportunity.”

You can watch Scott’s story in this video to see for yourself all that adoption can do for a child.

If you’re a prospective birth parent or a hopeful adoptive parent, we think it’s important that you understand how the child adoption process works. Once you have a better sense of how to complete the adoption process, you will feel more confident to take your first step.

Keep reading to get all of the information you need about the domestic adoption process and how to place a child for adoption. And when you feel ready to get started on your own journey, just pick up the phone and dial 1-800-ADOPTION to speak to the best team of adoption specialists.

Prospective birth mothers, you can learn more about the domestic adoption process by checking out this complete guide. You can also reach out to an experienced professional by completing our free online form

The Adoption Process

Step 1: How to Decide that Adoption Is Right for You

There’s nothing that Andy and Katy loved more than being parents.

After having their first daughter, they couldn’t wait to grow their family. But, after experiencing a miscarriage, they began to wonder about other options. They knew they had so much love to give, and adoption seemed like the perfect way to give a child an amazing life.

“Katy is a great parent because she knows that it’s important to have boundaries and discipline, but she weighs all of that with just the power of unconditional love,” Andy said. “She’s just a woman of joy. She loves to laugh. This child is going to be blessed by having her as a mom.”

Andy, Katy said, “just makes things way, way more fun. What a huge blessing it is for our future kids to be able to have Andy as a dad. We knew that our family was not done growing yet.”

For Andy and Katy, for thousands of other hopeful parents, and for thousands of prospective birth mothers, the adoption process is a beautiful path to a future filled with love, hope and opportunity.

Some hopeful parents come to adoption after a painful struggle with infertility. For others, adoption is a sense of calling — something they always knew they would want to do. The one thing that unites all hopeful parents is that they want nothing more than to provide a loving family for a child.

Women who are considering adoption for their babies always want the same thing — to provide a loving family and a bright future for their child. When a woman considers the infant adoption process, she’s not “giving up” at all. She’s making a brave, loving decision.

“I knew that what I was doing in placing in Charlotte for adoption was 100 percent out of love,” Lindsey, a birth mom who worked with American Adoptions, said. “I loved her so much that I had to be selfless.”

Birth mother Lindsey with baby Charlotte and the adoptive family

How can you know if adoption is right for you? Look at your life, and dream of not only your future, but the future of your child. What do you see? How do you get there?

Adoption can give a child a life full of love and opportunity. If that’s what you want, then you can start your newborn adoption process today.

When it comes to starting your journey, the most important thing you need to know is in the next step.

Step 2: Choose an Adoption Professional. Are all Professionals the Same?

The adoption process can be long and complicated, which is why it’s so important to work with the right adoption agency. When Erika, a brave birth mom who placed her baby for adoption, looks back at her process, there’s one thing that stands out to her:

“Even though adoption was the hardest decision I will ever make in my life, American Adoptions also made it the best decision I’ve ever made in my life."

American Adoptions can be your adoption agency. We’ve been serving prospective birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents for years, and during that time we’ve helped complete thousands of adoptions.

That kind of experience is difficult, if not totally impossible, to find anywhere else. But, it’s not just professional experience that you’ll get with American Adoptions.

You’ll get support from adoption specialists who truly understand your journey, because we’ve taken it ourselves.

American Adoptions was founded by an adoptee and his adoptive parents. On our staff, there are adoptees, adoptive families and birth parents. What does that mean for you? It means that we get it.

Because of our personal experience, we are able to:

  • Find great adoptive families who are second-to-none

  • Give you all of the services and support you need

  • Educate and support parents and families so that they can give children amazing lives

We truly understand what adoptees, birth parents and adoptive families feel and experience throughout the lifelong adoption process. This firsthand experience makes the adoption process with our agency better for everyone.

Michelle, a birth parent specialist who is also a birth parent herself, is one of our staff members who can help you understand adoption based on her personal experience.

“I am available to answer any questions that arise, particularly from birth moms, as I have been in your shoes and know how you are feeling,” Michelle said. “It was most helpful to me when I had someone to talk to who would just listen to me without making any judgements or conclusions about who I was as a person.”

You can click here to ask Michelle a question about how the adoption process works today.

And, you’ll be working with one of the largest adoption agencies in the country.

Does the size of an adoption agency really matter? It does.

Thanks to the size of our staff and our national scope, our agency has been able to operate with unprecedented consistency over the years. A financial downturn, new state law or change in the company won’t derail your adoption, which we’ve watched happen to countless hopeful parents and pregnant women over the years at smaller agencies.

Working across the nation, we give you a greater choice and greater opportunity to find the perfect adoption match. With prospective birth parents and hopeful parents in every state, of every career, from every religious background, you can be sure that our agency can help you realize your adoption dreams:

  • Finding the perfect family for your baby when you’re a prospective birth parent.

  • Putting you in the best situation to start your family when you’re a hopeful adoptive parent.

Working with the wrong professional for the private adoption process can lead you down an uncertain path, and the process can become more challenging and confusing than it should be. By choosing American Adoptions, you are choosing expertise, experience and a proven track record of successful adoptions.

Contact us today to get more free information about the adoption process and begin your journey.

Step 3: Find the Perfect Adoption Match to Create Your Best Future

Cassidy knew that adoption was the best way to respond to her unplanned pregnancy, but she was worried.

“I was worried that I wouldn’t find anyone that I really loved,” she said. “I was looking for parents that I could see my own parents in, and that I could kind of see myself in, and my values. And so, I was worried that I wouldn’t really find that.

“All of these fears went away when I met my adoptive family.”

What Cassidy experienced is something you can experience, too. This is a new type of relationship, and it’s normal to feel nervous at first. But, finding the right adoption opportunity means moving from fear to hope as you realize the possibilities that exist for everyone involved in the adoption. Together, you can empower each other and create a better future for the baby.

Here’s how it works.

  • First, The prospective birth parent sits down with an adoption specialist. She lays out her hopes and dreams for her baby, and they start coming up with a picture of what type of family would be best.

  • Second, the adoptive parents make a profile — kind of like your personal Facebook page — full of photos, letters and even a video. This is their chance to share their hopes and dreams about the type of family they will be, and the type of life they’ll provide for a child. For a better idea of the final result, you can look at our adoptive family profiles by clicking here.

  • Third, the prospective birth mother will look through as many of these profiles as she needs to until she finds the right family. When you think you’ve found your baby’s parents, you can let your adoption specialist know, and she will take it from there.

Many birth parents, like Cassidy, have found that the best way to make sure their child has the life they want for them is by working with American Adoptions. And with more prospective birth parents choosing American Adoptions, our hopeful families can expect lower wait times for their perfect opportunity.

The size of our agency and the personal experience of our staff can put you in the best situation for these three reasons:

  • You get a better chance to find your perfect match. By working across the country, we create more possible matches for prospective birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents. Think of how important this is for your future and your child’s future. Wouldn’t you rather have 300 potential adoption opportunities instead of only 10? Every child deserves a family that is perfect for them. More options means more opportunities and a greater chance of finding the ideal adoption situation.

  • You get a more reliable adoption process. Similarly, you can expect a steady process with our team. A smaller agency that only works in one state can see drastic fluctuations in wait times, staffing and budget. Unfortunately, most of the smaller agencies close their doors within a decade. With us, adoptive families experience consistent and shorter average wait times during the adoption process. And unlike the smaller agencies, you never have to worry about losing support from our agency. Our doors will always be open.

  • You get to make your dreams a reality. Finally, because we work with more families, we give prospective birth mothers more control. This benefits everyone by creating the best possible adoption opportunities. Each birth mother wants something different. Cassidy was especially interested in finding an adoptive family who reminded her of her own parents. You may be more interested in a family’s faith, or in where they live, or in what type of careers they have. Whatever is most important to you, we can help you find the right family for you and your baby.

What does all of this mean? It means better matches, which creates the best families, which results in a life of love, safety and opportunity for your baby.

Step 4: Get to Know Each Other Before Placement. Why Is this Important?

When Sara became unexpectedly pregnant after already raising two boys, she knew that parenting a third child wouldn’t be an option. Choosing the child adoption process made complete sense. One thing she really wanted out of the process was to get to know the adoptive parents.

With the help of her specialist at American Adoptions, Sara found the perfect parents for her baby, and she began the process of getting to know them through pre-placement contact.

“Each time that we would meet, each time that we would talk, we would realize that we were more like each other than we were different,” she recalled. “They were the ones. There wasn’t a doubt about that.”

That wonderful sense of certainty is something you can experience, too, through pre-placement contact. There’s a period during this process, after a match is made, when you have the opportunity to get to know one another, and your specialist at American Adoptions will be there to help things go smoothly.

With American Adoptions, you can participate in one or all of the following forms of contact during the process of adoption:

  • Conference Call: An adoption specialist-mediated conference call between adoptive parents and the birth parents.

  • Ongoing Contact: Depending on everyone’s comfort level, the potential birth parents and the adoptive family can choose to have continued email exchanges, phone calls, text message conversations and more prior to placement.

  • Meeting During Placement: The adoptive family will travel to the hospital where the birth takes place and may interact with the birth parents upon placement.

If you are considering placing a baby for adoption, it will always be up to you to decide how much contact you want to have with the adoptive family before and after the birth of your baby. You can learn more by taking this link to our complete guide for open adoption.

You can also connect with an adoption professional today to get more information on open adoption and the adoption process when you complete our free online form.

Step 5: Complete the Hospital Stay with all the Support You Need

The hospital stay is — in many ways — the culmination of the adoption journey.

With heightened emotions and the knowledge that your life is about to change forever, this might be one part of the child adoption process that you’re most worried about. That’s totally understandable. Labor and delivery can be daunting.

But, one great thing about the adoption process is that it ensures you will have the support you need. When you’re a woman placing a baby for adoption, your adoption plan puts you in control of what happens at the hospital, and your adoption specialist will be there to guide you every step of the way. The adoption specialist will also coordinate with the adoptive parents so that everyone will be on the same page.

We will protect you, support you and do everything we can to make your hospital stay as easy as possible.

Remember, we’ve been there before. Not only have we helped thousands of other birth mothers, but we’ve also been through the hospital stay personally — as birth parents and as adoptive parents.

Sometime after the baby is born, the prospective birth parents can complete the legal adoption paperwork — which your specialist and attorney will help you with.

Once the official consent to adoption has been given by the birth parents and everything is cleared from the doctors, the baby will be placed in the adoptive parents’ arms, and the lifelong journey of adoption will begin.

Step 6: Finalize the Adoption and Begin a Bright Future

When Candice first learned of her unplanned pregnancy, it felt like her whole world was crashing in on her. The idea of a better future — for herself and for her baby — felt impossible. But now, after coming to American Adoptions and finding the perfect adoptive parents?

“I know my son has a huge family who loves and cares so much for him,” Candice said. “I am forever thankful for that. Jeff and Amanda saved my baby’s life!”

Adoption is an amazing process. When a woman chooses adoption, she’s doing something heroic. For a family, it’s the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. And for a child, it’s the promise of a full life in a loving family.

The last step in the process of adopting a child for the family is called “finalization,” which is a legal proceeding that you can learn more about in this detailed guide. Once the finalization hearing is finished, the adoptive family is granted legal custody of the child and awarded the adoption decree, and the legal domestic adoption process is complete. But the journey isn’t over.

For the birth mother, the child and the family, the last step is the first step into the rest of life.

When you’re a prospective birth parent, you can watch your child become the person they were always meant to be thanks to open adoption. And when you’re an adoptive parent, you can build and maintain an important connection — for yourself and your child — through the open adoption relationship.

After the legal adoption process ends, nearly all birth parents are interested in receiving ongoing updates about their child, and nearly all adoption professionals in the United States encourage this correspondence. At American Adoptions, we feel the same way — and we’re here to support everyone as they continue their open adoption contact in the months and years to come.

Ready to get started? Get more free information and begin your journey today by contacting us online.

Prospective birth mothers, are you ready to begin the life-changing journey of adoption? Fill out this online contact form to connect with an adoption professional today. A better and more hopeful future is just a click away!

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.