Adoption: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 3: Explore Your Options/Select an Agency

What You Should Know
Families wishing to adopt have many options. The following is one way to think about how choices in adoption may flow from one another:

Where will our family’s child come from? (Domestic or intercountry adoption?)

If we adopt domestically, what type of adoption is best for our family? (Domestic infant or foster care adoption?)

If we choose domestic infant adoption, who will assist our family with the adoption? (Licensed private agency, independent, facilitated, or unlicensed agency adoption?)

The way you choose to adopt will depend on the characteristics of the child you wish to adopt, how long you are willing to wait for your child, and other concerns.

Some Places to Go
For more information, see the related Information Gateway factsheet Adoption Options and companion chart Adoption Options at-a-Glance.

Step 4: Complete a Home Study

What You Should Know
No matter what type of adoption you choose to pursue, all prospective adoptive parents must have a home study or “family study.” A home study involves education, preparation, and information gathering about the prospective adoptive parents. This process can take from 2 to 10 months to complete, depending on agency waiting lists and training requirements. States vary regarding home study requirements, so you should check with your State adoption specialist to learn about the specific regulations in your State.

Some Places to Go
The Adoption Home Study Process, an Information Gateway factsheet, provides more information regarding what is generally included in a home study. The National Foster Care & Adoption Directory, on the Information Gateway website, lists the State Adoption Specialist in each State and Territory.