How difficult is the process for domestic infant adoption?

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Answered by: Dori, An Expert in the Adopting a Child Category
When I first considered domestic infant adoption, I probably wasn't in the best state of mind. After several heart-wrenching miscarriages, and facing the news that I would have to go through expensive and invasive medical procedures if I wanted to have a baby, I would have done almost anything to take away the pain of yet another loss, yet another pregnancy ended in nothing more than heartbreak and more medical bills.

But, the more I considered adoption, the more the idea interested me. Unfortunately, a myth that domestic adoption was both very difficult and insanely expensive almost prevented me from looking further into it.

The truth is, adopting a baby from the United States is often easier and cheaper than adopting from a foreign country. The first step for anyone who is considering adoption is to contact an agency specializing in the type of adoption he or she is interested in. There are thousands of adoption agencies and attorneys who specialize in adoption. Once an agency is selected, the process can begin.

In our case, the first step to completing our adoption was the home study. A social worker, hired by the agency, will visit a prospective adoptive parent's home and make sure it is well suited for a baby. Though the requirements vary by state, there are constants across the board. For example, the potential home must have enough bedrooms, and swimming pools must be fenced. Also part of the home study is a thorough background check on everyone in the household. In my case, my husband and I were both fingerprinted and our names and social security numbers were checked to make sure we had never been charged with a crime that would bar us from becoming good parents. In the state we lived in, we were also required to have blood tests to check for HIV and other incurable diseases.

Once the home study was completed, we had to make a profile that birth parents could view to decide on where to place their baby. We included pictures of ourselves and the activities we enjoyed. We made five copies of the profile and gave them to the adoption agency.

Then, everyone had warned us, we'd have to wait. Though the misconception exists that the "average" waiting time for domestic infant adoption is in the years, our agency told us that most people got matched up with a mother or birth parents in twelve to eighteen months. We finished up all of our paperwork and submitted our profile to the agency on the last week of September.

In the middle of December, we were shocked to get a call that we had been matched with a birth mother. But even more shocking was the news that she was only two weeks from her due date. She had the baby a few days later, and we got to take him home from the hospital when he was 2 days old.

Though some state have long waiting periods, most require only 24-72 hours before a birth mother can sign over her parental rights. In our case, that was 48 hours, and she signed as soon as the time had passed. It took about four months before the adoption was finalized, and the judge ruled that he was part of our family forever. They even issued a new birth certificate, naming my husband and myself as his legal parents. The entire process, from when we first considered adopting to when we had a finalized adoption was only about eight months.

Domestic adoption is easier than many people imagine, and it was the best decision our family ever made.

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