Adoption Process Tips

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The Home Study: Paperwork And Documentation

Your home study will consist of a large amount of paperwork and required documents. The amount of paperwork that a home study requires can be overwhelming for prospective adoptive parents. Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was built one brick at a time. The same goes for your home study paperwork, just take it one piece of information at a time and before you know it you’ll be ready to move onto the next phase of the adoption journey.

Here is a list of documents you will need to supply:

  • Proof of income and assets,

  • A list of household expenses,

  • Marriage licenses,

  • Divorce decrees,

  • Birth certificates,

  • Adoption decrees,

  • Background checks,

  • Health assessments on each member of your household,

  • Training certificate- many states require a pre-adoption training course,

  • Letters of reference

Please be aware that this is not an all inclusive list, the worker assigned to conduct your home study may require additional documentation based on your own background, family situation, or agency/ state requirements.

What is an adoption plan?

Making an Adoption Plan

Making an adoption plan refers to creating a path for your adoption choices and the adoption process. The adoption plan includes learning about adoption and creating an idea of what type of child an adopting family is looking for. By determining what type of child and what type of adoption they desire, adoptive parents will be better able to work with an adoption agency, the birth parents and the process in general.

Potential adopting parents should be encouraged to enter adoption with open minds to the children who are in need of homes. They should avoid creating a very narrow idea of the type of child they wish to adopt when they are new to adoption. Parents may also want to think about adopting more than one child, depending on the type of adoption they choose.

The adoption plan should be a long-term series of goals for a family. The potential adoptive parents should consider what the changes that adoption will make in their lives. They should also think about what they hope to accomplish in the waiting period for their child. The adoption process can be a long, yet educational and fulfilling path.

How can an adoptive parent cope with the waiting period after starting an adoption process?

Coping with the Waiting Period

The waiting period after starting an adoption can be a very frustrating and anxious time for parents. Parents should try to be as patient as possible and keep a positive outlook. The waiting period can be a time to research and gain greater understanding on adoption, read parenting books or magazines, or join an adoption group or Internet chat room with other adoptive parents.

Parents may also prepare for their new child by choosing baby names, getting the child's room ready, or keeping a journal of their feelings and insights during the adoption process. Those who are adopting internationally may want to learn more about the country from which their child is from or research travel information.

What is an Adoption home study?

Adoption Home Studies

Every adoptive family is required by law in all 50 states to complete an adoption home study before placement. A home study gathers information about an adoptive family, such as: their motivation to adopt, their social history, and their parenting plans. In some cases, home studies may include some type of education about adoption.

The home study is a written report that is developed over the course of several meetings, at least one of which takes place in the adoptive couple's home. At the home visit, the social worker performing the home study can assess the home for the living conditions and safety of a child. No two home studies are alike, although each state has some guidelines on what must be covered in a home study, each agency has their own way of compiling the information.

Some home studies are completed by working only with the adoptive family, while other agencies may have some group classes at the beginning or the end of the process. All home studies, regardless of individual agency guidelines, will require medical records, a criminal background check, background information on each of the adoptive parents, and a safety assessment of the home.

What is the placement period?

After the Home Study

Once the home study is successfully completed, the parents are ready to be matched with a child. This is the placement period. The placement period can last varying lengths of time depending on the time it takes to find a match. Parents adopting domestically may be searching for prospective birth parents through a number of different ways. Parents pursuing a foster care adoption may be able to view information about the children who are available for placement. Parents adopting internationally may receive referral of a child within a few months to a year or more.

What are personal references and why are they important?

Personal References

Finding good personal references for the home study is important, because these reference letters will be read. As potential adoptive parents, your references should convey that you are ready to parent a child, and will make good parents. It is important to put careful thought into who you would like to write the reference letters, being sure to select people you have known for at least a few years.

Other things to consider are your potential reference’s background (i.e. choose people who are parents to explain good parenting traits), and that the reference does not have any prejudices against international or transracial adoptions. Always ask if the person is willing to be a reference first, before listing him/her as a reference, or assuming that your friend, or family member, will invest the time it takes to write a reference letter. You will want to ensure that the person writing the reference will be happy to recommend you as an adoptive parent, and not view letter as a hassle.

What is adoption networking?

Adoption Networking

Networking is the way that potential adoptive parents get the word out that they are looking for adoption services. There are many children throughout the world who are available for adoption as long as adoptive parents keep an open mind to the type of child that they desire, and how willing they are to search for a child. Couples who actively participate in their adoption process learn more about adoption and thus feel more comfortable with their adoption. The more open a couple is about their willingness to adopt, and having their home study completed, may also impact their success in adoption.


Tips for Home Study Survival

An adoption home study can seem intimidating and daunting, especially given the pile of paperwork you are required to fill out! Here are some survival tips that will make your adoption home study proceed more smoothly, and be a lot less stressful.

  1. Relax! Take each step of the home study process one step at a time.

  2. Answer your profile and social worker questions as accurately and concisely as possible.

  3. Complete your paperwork and gather documentation in a timely manner.

  4. Make copies of everything. Items and pages have a way of getting lost in the shuffle with the large amount of paperwork and documents that you will need to turn in. Making copies to keep for your own file will save time should something suddenly become lost.

  5. Remember that the home study is a process, it takes time. Don’t expect your worker to have it completed and approved overnight. Give her ample time, and speed things along by promptly completing your part of the paperwork. You can expect a home study to take an average of six weeks to complete.


Birth Mother/ Adoptive Parent Interview

When the birth mother selects a couple she likes and wants to speak with, the adoption agency or attorney will then arrange a meeting, by phone or in person, between the birth mother and the potential adoptive parents. This meeting is the time for the birth mother to ask any questions she may not have been able to answer by reading the adopting parents' profiles.

Additionally, the birth mother may want to prepare some questions to ask the adopting couple, such as: how long they have been married, information about their other children, why they want to adopt, how they plan to discipline, or what values they hope to instill in their children. The birth mother will want to gain a picture of the adoptive couple and how they would care for her child.

The social worker, or adoption professional, is usually present for the meeting to fix lulls in the conversations, help present questions, and keep everyone at ease. If the birth mother feels that the couple is not a match after the meeting, she should tell her adoption counselor. Speaking with the couple does not contract a definite match, and both sides should feel free to decline if they are uncomfortable.

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