We have been through the adoption process four times. No two times have been exactly alike. Two of our adoptions were completely private, and two times the child was in the foster care system. I answer lots of questions about adoption and foster care. By far, the most common questions I am asked are about how to adopt without an agency or foster care.
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Is Adoption without an agency or foster care possible?
The short answer is, yes, it is possible, but it’s not always easy. It is easier for a mother who needs an adoptive family for her child to go to an adoption agency than to just ask around. When she goes to an agency, she is connected with resources and a waiting portfolio of families to choose from who all desperately want a child.
Connecting with women who need adoptive families can be difficult, but it can be done. There are several things prospective adoptive families can do to facilitate a private adoption without an agency.
Find an Adoption Attorney
Contact a local attorney who is familiar with the adoption process. These attorneys can be found listed under the “family law” tab of your local legal aid or other legal referral service. Once you locate an attorney, they will likely meet with you and require a retainer for their services.
Get a Home Study
Contact a local adoption agency or local independent social worker who conducts home studies for prospective adoptive families. A home study is the most expensive element of a private adoption, second only to attorney’s fees. In most cases, the home study will cost around $2000.
The home study will also be a time consuming element of the adoption. You can find out more about what to expect from the home study process and find a free printable home study checklist here.
Most states provide free training for prospective foster parents. Even if you do not intend to foster a child, many times a judge will be more comfortable awarding temporary or emergency custody to parents who have been through the state required training for foster parents.
Do some research about your state adoption laws. Most information you need may come from your attorney or from your state parenting classes. There are also some pretty amazing books about adoption out there. Here are a few that I recommend:
Tell People You Want to Adopt
Tell your family, friends, work colleagues, church family about your plans to adopt. You never know where the connection will be made to your baby’s birth family. One of our adoption connections came through our church family and the other came through a friend at work.
Most people want to help others and want to see children living happy and healthy lives. They are more than willing to make connections in order to make this happen.
Have a Plan
Have a plan for bringing your child home. I am not saying to go out and fully stock a nursery. In fact, I recommend that you buy nothing. Some people think you have to have a room prepared for an adoption when, in fact, you only need a room that is available.
I do suggest having a fund set aside for the day you bring your child home. I say this because one of our private adoptions happened when the child was a toddler and we had very little notice. The other we planned for the entire pregnancy of the mother. You just never know what will happen. Also, if you have a fund set aside and an adoption planned adoption does not work out, then you do not have to return items.
Talk to your pediatrician. It is always good to have a medical assessment done as soon as possible after a child comes into your care.
Get connected with groups in your community that support adoptive and pre-adoptive families or join groups like ours on facebook. Either way, get connected to a group that is knowledgable and supportive. Many of your questions can be answered in this way.
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