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What are the Steps to Adopting a Child?

By J.Gunsch
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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Adopting a child is just as much as a blessing as having a biological child. Making a commitment to raising a child and opening your heart and home to someone in need is a gracious gesture that brings joy not only to the child, but to the adoptive family as well. Adopting a child requires a large amount of planning and preparation, which at times might seem somewhat overwhelming. Adopting a child may also involve a large financial obligation on the part of the adopter.

The first thing to do after deciding to adopt a child is to determine what age, gender, ethnicity and region the child will come from. There are children ranging in age from newborn to eighteen years old that desperately desire a family to call their own. Many children in need of adoptive families have special needs because of abuse, neglect or physical disabilities. These children live as close as your own community and as far as the other side of the world. There are many agencies available to help you find a child to adopt, easily accessible via the Internet. Adopting a child can also be conducted privately, arranged by the birth parents, a family attorney and the adoptive parents.

If you decide to use the services of an adoption agency, the next step to adopting a child is to fill out an adoption application. The adoption application is used by the agency as an initial screening tool for families interested in adopting a child. The acceptance of the adoption application varies depending on the agency’s protocol. It is common for a family’s application to be rejected by one agency, only to be accepted by another.

Upon the acceptance of an application, the next step in adopting a child is to undergo a home study. A home study consists of a series of interviews conducted by a professional social worker that serves two purposes. First, a home study is designed to ensure that the adoptive child will be well cared for, and second, it prepares the adoptive family for their child. A home study takes place over several months and requires a great amount of patience from those wishing to adopt a child.

Once an adoptive family has been approved by an adoption agency, the next step in adopting a child is to begin legal procedures. It is much easier to hire an adoption attorney at this time than to try to handle legal procedures alone, and some municipalities require one. The legal steps to adopting a child differ between states in the U.S., as well as internationally.

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Discussion Comments
By pleonasm — On May 12, 2011

@jackiw2012 - I believe that what would probably happen in the case of missing parents, with no other living relatives available, is that first the child would be taken in by a social services officer, and possibly kept at their personal home, or in a center for foster children. They might even be dealt with (in a good way) by the local police for a couple of nights, depending on where they live (i.e. smaller areas might not have quick access to child care services).

It's possible large population centers might have a kind of half-way house available for kids who are only temporarily separated from their parents.

Then, if the parents look likely to stay missing, the child would be in foster care for at least a year or more, just in case, or while the courts process the disappearance. This could either be a facility like an orphanage (although they don't really call them that anymore) or in a private home.

If the parents are eventually declared dead, the child can be adopted.

However, this might not hold true for all states, or countries.

If you want the exact process for wherever your story is set, you should contact the local child services and ask them what their process is. You can also have a look at their website, which might have more information.

Good luck.

By jackiw2012 — On Mar 14, 2009

OK so i'm writing this novel and i'm a little confused about this. if a child's parents are missing (and never to be found) are they put into foster care, an orphanage, or an adoption agency? also, if they are, how would you word it? (i.e. say if they go to an adoption agency, do you say, "What i do know is that i was taken to a social services center and placed into an adoption agency." does that even make sense?) and next, how long does it usually take for a child to be adopted? meanwhile, what does the child do? and were does she live?

i'd gladly appreciate if someone could help out. i've had a writer's block forever and now i have the ideas flowing, but it would be very disappointing if it all had to stop because i didn't know what to say about this...thanks!

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