Step 1: Getting Started
You have made the decision to adopt. The next step is choosing the right agency; this choice can make a huge difference in your adoption journey. First, you will need to contact an agency licensed in your state about completing your adoption home study. Here are some questions you might consider asking to discover which agency is the best fit for you.
A Family For Every Child serves children and families nationally and we are happy to help you in any way we can. Our goal is to ensure that you and the children who are waiting are able to find their "Forever Family". By filling out our Registration Form, you can help us to help you! We will email you urgent placement requests and newsletters, case workers can find your strengths and preferences from the information you supply in our secure database, and there is no cost or obligation!
Step 2: Initial Orientation
Initial Orientation is a meeting in which you will be given a basic understanding of:
- The Adoption Program, policies, and procedures of the Adoption Agency
- Who the children are: the needs and characteristics of children available for adoption through state foster care systems
- The attachment, separation, grief and loss, abuse, neglect, or traumas that children have experienced
- The role and responsibility of adoptive parents
- The importance of cultural and ethnic identity to a child
- The importance of birth parents
- The process you will need to go through and the next steps on your journey
- Background checks
- The Parent Packet application process
- The home study/assessment
- The length of the process with approximate timelines
- The rights and responsibilities of the adoptive family and the Adoption Agency
- The family selection/matching process
Step 3: Adoptive Parent Training
Each state requires training to become an adoptive parent; what this training consists of varies by state. The training sessions vary by area/location, 4 to 10 weeks, or weekend sessions. Feel free to check out our training page to see what is available in your area. The training sessions are designed to:
- Prepare prospective parents to better understand a child who comes out of the foster care system
- Prepare you for adoption
- Challenge you to grow and develop as a parent
- Help you consider: what type of child can I successfully parent? Am I able to parent a child who has been neglected and/or abused to some degree?
Step 4: Parent Application Process
This is where you will want to narrow down the agency that you will choose to go with to complete your home study process. You will want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the agency that you choose. The steps for each agency may differ in training, timelines, and when items need to be completed and returned. The application provided by agencies will often include:
- Reference letters
- Fingerprint/criminal history background checks on each applicant
- Financial documents
- Medical reports
- Marriage and/or Divorce Decree
- Biography/life sketch
- Child preferences
- What brought you to adoption
Step 5: Home Study Process
A home study is a report that is required to determine the eligibility of adoptive parents. A home study can only be used for one adoption (sibling groups are considered one if done at the same time). Home studies are kept confidential and are only shared with professionals involved with the adoption. Fees for home studies vary from each agency.
During this step, you will meet your adoption worker, who will be responsible for writing your home study. You may click here and scroll down to view the profiles of our adoption workers. They will meet with you in your home to talk about your personal history, family relationships, what brought you to the decision of adoption, and the supports/resources available to you. They will determine if your home is safe and has sufficient space for the adopted child/children. This process will help you and the agency make the best possible decisions about whether placement of the child/children will work out and determine the characteristics of the children whom you will be most successful parenting.
Once information is gathered and interviews have taken place with the adoption worker, there may be a time of waiting. The home study/assessment will need to be written; during this step of your journey please try to be patient. While you wait for the home study process to be completed, we recommend that families do some reading, research, and connect with other adoptive parents or support groups to prepare for the next phases of the adoption process.
Step 6: Matching/Selection
During the matching/selection phase, you and the agency you have chosen will work together to find the child/children that will be the best match for your family. We have a Matching Assistance Program that operates throughout the U.S. to help families in completing this step.
We pride ourselves on having a current and reliable web listing of children waiting for their adoptive family. The matching process can be very challenging and frustrating. Many families have a difficult time finding children to submit on as well as being considered and notified by the caseworkers. We encourage families to be patient and not to lose hope. Every state differs in how they make the selection of where to place children. In some states, the caseworker of the child makes the decision; in other states, it is decided by a committee of people.
Understand who will be submitting our home study on children (you, your adoption worker, etc) and how often. In some cases, you will be given a copy of your home study to submit on children while some agencies prefer that they submit your home study. The term "submitting on a child" means to give the child's social worker your paperwork showing that you feel you are a good match. Some agencies will submit on children out of state and other agencies will only submit on children in your state. Out-of-state adoption can be more work than in-state adoption. For details, see our Heart Gallery FAQ and tutorial on the ICPC.
Step 7: Placement
Placement begins once you have been selected as the "Forever Family" for a child/children.
- Make sure you have the necessary information about the child/children
- Make sure your resources are in place ahead of time
- Talk with schools, counselors, therapist, physicians, dentist, child care, and support groups
Post placement reports are required until the adoption is finalized. These reports may be done by your adoption worker and/or another social worker. The number of post placement visits/reports varies depending on the state requirements. Are you ready to start? A child is waiting for their "Forever Family"; you could be the one to make a difference!