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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 you can change your life and give a baby the loving family they deserve.

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 call 1-800-ADOPTION.

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.

The Adoption Process

Step 1: Decide that Adoption Is Right for You

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?

You may come to adoption after a painful struggle with infertility. Or perhaps you feel a sense of calling — something you always knew you 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. If you are a woman considering the infant adoption process, you are not “giving up” at all. You are making a brave, loving decision.

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

"I knew that what I was doing in placing in Charlotte for adoption was 100% out of love"

- Birth Mother Lindsey,
 Her Story

We can provide you the services you deserve on your journey to 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 for Your Adoption Process

The adoption process can be beautiful, but it can also be long and complicated. You deserve to have the best adoption experience, and that only happens when you work with a great 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."

- Erika, Birth Mother,
 Her Story

American Adoptions can be your adoption agency. We’ve been serving prospective birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents for more than 30 years, and during that time we’ve helped create more than 12,000 families.

Your future and the future of your child matter more than anything. The agency you choose for your adoption process holds that future in their hands. That’s why you deserve to work with an experienced, trustworthy professional.

To help, we’ve created a free tool for families. Click here to download your guide to Choosing an Adoption Professional today.

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 

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 this part of the adoption process works.

  • First a prospective birth parent sits down with an adoption specialist. She lays out her hopes and dreams for her baby, and starts coming up with a picture of what type of family would be best.
  • Second, the adoptive parents make a profile full of photos, letters and even a video. As an adoptive family this is your chance to share your hopes and dreams about the type of family you will be, and the type of life you’ll provide for a child.
  • Third, the prospective birth mother will look through as many of these profiles as she needs to until she finds the right family. When she thinks she has found her baby’s parents, she tells her adoption specialist, who 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.

Step 4: Get to Know Each Other Before Placement?

Open adoption may seem intimidating at first, but it is the norm in domestic infant adoption today. You can learn more by taking this link to our complete guide for open adoption.

When Sara became unexpectedly pregnant after already raising two boys, she knew that parenting a third child wouldn’t be an option. 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 connection is something you can experience, too, through pre-placement contact. There’s a period during the adoption 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.

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.

You can always 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.

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? 


Prospective birth mothers, are you ready to begin the life-changing journey of adoption? Get connected to an adoption professional today.

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