Going through the Adoption Process

by Michele Fried

Many pregnant women considering adoption (expectant parents) wonder what the process is like for prospective adoptive parents.

When prospective adoptive parents walk through the doors of Adoption STAR, just like our expectant parents, they first meet with an agency staff person to get to know each other. They also have paperwork to fill out to become a client and then they have more paperwork to complete for a process known as a “home study” which is an assessment process one must go through to be considered as adoptive parents.

No one can adopt a child without first successfully completing a home study. The home study is actually a written document that covers all the state requirements and reads like a biography describing the applicants, their reasons and motivation to adopt and assesses their capacity to be parents. It also explores with them the type of child they hope to adopt, and what type of adoption they hope to experience (such as an open adoption.) This process also includes obtaining criminal history and child abuse clearances, references, medicals, financials, and many other important documents. In addition, personal interviews in the office and in their home are conducted by a social worker.

The home study process also includes an educational component that is state-of-the-art and rarely found at other agencies. Adoption STAR’s adoptive parent clients attend a series of classes that cover topics such as adoption law, how to talk to their child about being adopted, open adoption, adopting a child who may have special needs and adopting a child of a different race or culture. Each class introduces guest speakers and many of those speakers are birth mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents. Hearing from others who experienced the adoption journey is so important for our clients who hope to adopt one day.

When Jennifer and Jeff first applied to the agency, neither of them expected to learn so much about adoption. They after all wanted a baby. After the educational home study classes, a requirement for all prospective adoptive parents of Adoption STAR, Jen emailed the agency writing:

“Thanks for all the great information. When we first heard that we would have to take classes we thought of it as ‘something we HAD to do’ in order to adopt a child and we now we truly see the significance of the classes. Thank you!”

A few weeks after their home study was finished, another couple attended a special forum for prospective adoptive parents to bring one or more family members with them to learn about adoption. Shortly after the event we received this note:

“I just wanted to drop a note of thanks for the session you hosted for family members last evening. I knew this would be helpful to my parents. When we first told my parents that we were hoping to adopt, they were very excited. Although I knew they understood what adoption was, I was certain that they were not aware of how things have changed in this field. I think my biggest fear in telling my parents was that they, too, would be part of the emotional roller coaster. It’s a difficult position because you want your family to share in the experience, and yet, you have to hold your breath and hope that a child will come your way – – or else – – disappointment. It, in a sense, makes one extremely vulnerable. Of course, the day after I told my mother she was already out shopping for diapers, onesies, bottles and bibs. I think last night helped to shed some perspective on the situation. My parents walked away with a better understanding of what open adoption was (my mother is now very much in favor of the concept, and Dad, heck he’s just praying for another child to love – – he’s such a wonderful Grampie!), the process that is involved with adoption, and the possibility that we may adopt a child that is “different.” It was very helpful from our standpoint that our parents were able to learn about the process from “professionals.” My parents were “very impressed” with the agency – your knowledge of adoption, professionalism, and the outstanding support network available to both birth moms and birth families. I said, “That’s the reason we chose Adoption STAR!”

Both families have successfully adopted! These couples are just examples of the many wonderful adoptive parents that have come through Adoption STAR’s adoptive parent educational program.