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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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How to Adopt a Baby in Your State

Considering adopting? Here are the six steps of how to adopt a child in your state through American Adoptions:

1.Decide If You’re Fully Committed to Adoption

Adoption isn’t the right pathway for every family. Although the end result is always more than worthwhile, the adoption process is an investment of your time, finances and emotions. Before you begin adopting, you’ll need to be sure that this is something that you’re ready to pursue.

Many couples interested in learning how to adopt a child have struggled with infertility, miscarriages, or the loss of a child. Before you consider the adoption process, it’s imperative that you’ve allowed yourself to grieve such a loss.

In early conversations with your American Adoptions specialist, you’ll examine your motivations for adopting a child and your commitment to adoption. If you ultimately decide that adoption is right for you, you’ll need to be able to leave behind the dream of conceiving your child biologically before you can approach your new dream of adoption.

2.Understand the Types of Adoption and  State Adoption Requirements

While American Adoptions specializes in the domestic adoption of infants across the U.S. there are many ways to adopt kids in your state or community. Common types of adoption include:

Domestic agency adoption

Domestic” means that these adoptions occur within the U.S. Domestic adoption agencies can provide all the services needed to complete an adoption, including professional counseling and support to pregnant women, birth parents and adoptive parents. In addition, American Adoptions even provides financial protection for adoptive families in the event of an adoption disruption.

Who Should Choose This Type of Adoption: People looking for a “one-stop-shop,” greater financial protection, a shorter wait time and the ability to adopt an infant.


Although the primary goal of children placed into foster care is to be reunited with their biological family, about 25 percent of kids in foster care will become eligible for adoption from foster care. You can learn more about foster care and adoption here.

Who Should Choose This Type of Adoption: People who intend to adopt kids older than newborns, ranging from 1-year-olds to teens. People who are comfortable adopting “special needs” kids should especially consider adopting from foster care. In adoption, “special needs” includes any circumstance(s) that could make adoption for a foster child less likely, including sibling groups, older children, or children with special physical, mental, developmental or emotional needs.

International adoption

International adoptions can involve children of any age, from newborns to teenagers. Depending on the country you intend to adopt from, the requirements to adopt and the adoption process can be very different. Regulations may be more lax in some countries, so adoptive families should take care to choose an experienced and reputable international adoption agency to prevent fraud or abuse. However, with research, international adoption is a wonderful way to grow your family and can broaden your family’s cultural and racial roots. Read more about international adoption here.

Who Should Choose This Type of Adoption: People who wish to adopt from another culture or ethnicity and those who are comfortable adopting children older than newborns, as well as people who are prepared to provide their child with lifelong role models of their own race and connections to their cultural and ethnic heritage.

Despite the differences in types of adoption, in general, the process, requirements and steps involved to adopt kids is often similar. Learn more about the requirements to adopt in your state here.

3.Choose Your Adoption Professional

Deciding who you want to be your guide throughout the process to adopt kids might be the most important decision you make. It’ll impact everything that follows, including the ultimate success of your adoption. Adoption professionals should never be compared solely by price, because they offer vastly different services and levels of safety, depending on the type of adoption professional you choose to work with.

For example, by pursuing adoption without an agency, you may believe that you’re saving money, but you’re at greater risk for adoption fraud and financial loss without protection, and have no access to professional services that both the adoptive family and the birth family greatly benefit from, such as counseling.

The most common types of adoption professionals include:

Adoption facilitators: while seemingly cheap and easier to use than the standard adoption agency, they’re illegal in many states because of their predatory tactics.

Adoption law firms:  adoption attorneys who are often well-versed in many types of adoption and may work in conjunction with reputable adoption agencies to find adoption opportunities and provide a greater range of services.

Adoption law centers: unlike adoption law firms and agencies, adoption law centers aren’t regularly reviewed and may not be properly certified or regulated, which often leads to fraud and a lack of protection for both birth and adoptive families, despite the title that provides false reassurances.

Local adoption agencies: state-licensed and regulated organizations with small staffs that serve a limited geographic area, working only with adoptive families and birth families that reside within that area. This creates longer wait times for adoption but allows for face-to-face interactions.

National adoption agencies: licensed and regulated organizations that work with birth and adoptive families across all 50 states. These agencies are regularly reviewed on both a national and state level to ensure they’re always providing the best services. National adoption agencies offer shorter wait times and lower financial risk.

American Adoptions is an example of a national adoption agency that offers financial protection and shorter wait times by working with a broader range of birth and adoptive families across the U.S. You can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of adoption professionals in greater detail here.

4.Become an Active Waiting Family

The process to adopt kids involves first determining the type of adoption you envision. When you work with American Adoptions, you’ll complete an Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ) so you can be paired with expectant mothers who have the same goals and dreams for their adoption.

You’ll fill out paperwork, complete your adoption home study, take relevant training courses on becoming an adoptive parent in your state and create your adoption profile, which will be viewed by pregnant women considering adoption once you are active with American Adoptions.

5.Find an Adoption Opportunity

Most hopeful adoptive parents are concerned about how long the adoption process will take. In general, 75 percent of our families are placed with a child within 1 to 12 months after becoming active with American Adoptions. Much of that wait time is determined by how open you are to different types of adoption situations.

During this stage of the adoption process, your profile will be shown to expectant mothers whose APQ reasonably matches your own, which is why when you’re more open to a wider range of potential adoption situations on your APQ, you’ll be shown to more potential birth mothers. This flexibility can help minimize your adoption wait time. 

Prospective adoptive parents and prospective birth parents should also be compatible with the amount of post-adoption contact and other factors. If an expectant mother likes your profile, and the American Adoptions specialists think there may be a potentially good fit for an adoption opportunity, you’ll all be able to get to know each other through a conference call.

If the situation continues to seem like a good fit for everyone involved, communication can progress throughout the pregnancy to whatever extent both parties are comfortable with. This can help ease awkwardness, allow each party to learn more about each other, build strong relationships that will hopefully last a lifetime and reassure both parties that everyone is excited to move forward together.

6.Finalize Your Adoption

Once the baby is born, state adoption laws often require prospective birth mothers to wait for a certain amount of time following the birth before signing any adoption consent papers. If the birth parents sign their consent, the child is placed in your care and they voluntarily terminate their parental rights.

Following placement and prior to finalization, your adoption home study professional will return for post-placement in-home visits to check up on the child and to see how you’re all adjusting.

If your adoption takes place outside of your state, then you’ll need to adhere to the travel guidelines set forth by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), but if you happen to adopt kids within your state, then ICPC won’t affect your adoption prior to placement.

Several months after placement, you’ll appear in court with your adoption attorney to finalize the adoption. This is when the judge reviews your adoption and officially grants your parental rights.

Read more about how to finalize your adoption here.

7.Post-Placement Life

For adoptive families, post-placement life is about nurturing your child’s adopted roots as they grow. This can mean reading age-appropriate stories together about adoption, re-telling their story of how they came to your family, maintaining communication with their birth family or anything in between.

It’s always important that your child understands that adoption is a celebrated part of their history and that no questions are off-limits. Maintaining a level of communication with your child’s birth parents is another important part of the lifelong adoption journey. Exchanging photos, letters, phone calls, emails or arranging occasional visits can all be great ways to stay in touch as your child grows up.

The amount of post-placement communication between birth and adoptive families varies depending on individual situations, but it’s always encouraged by adoption professionals. Studies have shown that. “…higher levels of openness are significantly associated with higher levels of satisfaction with the adoption process by both birth mothers and adoptive parents (Ge et al., 2008).”

American Adoptions will continue to facilitate post-placement contact for 18 years following your adoption.


Ready to begin the process to adopt? Call 1-800-ADOPTION now.

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.