What Is The Adoption Process?

Lao-Tse, a Chinese philosopher, once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The adoption process may stretch ahead like a long road. When you have your child in your arms, the time will seem to have passed much more quickly!

1. Home Study

Your first step is the home study, which is designed to allow the social worker to get to know you and to see whether your home is suitable for a child. Don’t worry; s/he won’t check the tops of your door frames with a white glove! Living space, adequate windows, enough exits, and location of smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are more important.

You will usually have discussed fees during your first contact with the agency. Before you begin the home study visits, ask your agency whether they will allow the completed home study to be sent to other agencies to broaden the base of birth mothers who will see it. This can shorten the preplacement wait significantly. Many agencies are agreeable to this; some prefer that it be kept in-house.

The social worker will bring a stack of papers to the first visit with questions about everything from your childhood and your parents’ disciplinary methods to your current occupations, hobbies, and budget. Be honest! People with less-than-perfect childhoods and student loan debt adopt too. You’ll be asked to sign releases for criminal and child abuse background checks and provide copies of your marriage license and any divorce decrees. Everyone in your household will need a medical exam and a TB test. Some states require you to be fingerprinted.

This stack of paper will be presented to the agency for review. The wait will inevitably seem too long! You feel like you’re in a pregnancy with no due date in sight. With all the paperwork you’ve done, the baby should be in your house next week! Be patient, though. Don’t call your social worker more than once a week. The day will come when the review will be complete and you’ll be approved for placement. Celebrate the milestone!

2. Your Family Will be Presented to Birth Mothers

The agency or agencies that have your home study will present it, usually along with others, to birth mothers seeking adoptive families. This is another wait that can seem long. Feel free to check with any agencies weekly.

You may begin to look at your imperfections and wonder why any birth parents would choose your family! But the very things that you think may seem less desirable may attract the birth mother! Each one is an individual with her own history and her own hopes for her child. One family wondered whether they’d be chosen as they already had several children of different races. They seemed perfect to the mother of a biracial baby! Another couple thought they might be less desirable because the prospective father was a pastor, but a birth mother had hoped for that very influence for her baby boy. A couple who thought they might not be chosen because they lived in a rural area were chosen by a birth mother who had loved growing up on a farm and wanted that life for her baby. Someone will choose you, too, in time!

Remember during this time to notify your social worker of any life changes such as a move or job change. If a year passes before placement, you need to have your home study updated. This is much less time-consuming than the original home study, and usually less expensive as well.

3. A Birth Mother Has Chosen Your Family & Soon The Baby Will Be Placed With You

The call will come! Your baby is on the way or has already been born! Placement then may be a very quick process, especially if the baby is in your state. Interstate placement takes a little longer, but even then it is fairly rapid. There will be a stack of paperwork to sign and you will buckle your new child into his or her car seat to go home for the very first time!

4. Post-Placement Social Worker Visits

During the period immediately after placement, your social worker will return for several post-placement visits, a pleasant part of the adoption process. S/he will visit with your new child and your family and review medical records from well-child appointments. If you have any questions or concerns, ask your social worker. S/he may have the answers or, if not, can direct you to the appropriate resources.

5. Your Adoption is Finalized!

Your agency will issue a post-placement report approving the newborn or domestic infant adoption, and your adoption lawyer will take over the finalization process. In some states this involves a formal court proceeding, while in others it can all be done by mail. After finalization you will receive a new birth certificate listing you as the child’s parents. This will allow you to go to your Social Security office and apply for a Social Security number for your little one. Relax and enjoy your family life!


If you are looking to adopt, A Guardian Angel Adoptions is here to help you begin this process. If you are pregnant and looking into adoption as an option, please feel free to contact us and explore the resources available to you.