Adoption: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 6: File Necessary Legal Documents

What You Should Know
All adoptions need to be finalized in court, though the process varies from State to State. Usually a child lives with the adoptive family for at least 6 months before the adoption is finalized legally. During this time, a social worker may visit several times to ensure the child is well cared for and to write up the required court reports. After this period, the agency or attorney (in the case of independent adoption) will submit a written recommendation of approval of the adoption to the court, and you or your attorney can then file with the court to complete the adoption. For intercountry adoptions, finalization depends on the type of visa the child has and the laws in your State. The actual adoption procedure is just one of a series of legal processes required for intercountry adoption. In addition to your State laws, you must also follow the laws of the child’s country of origin, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (formerly INS) requirements.

Some Places to Go
The National Foster Care & Adoption Directory provides an attorney referral service for each State. The Information Gateway factsheet Intercountry Adoption provides more information.

Step 7: Parent Your Child

What You Should Know
The final, and most important step, in the adoption process is to parent your adopted child. Adoption is a lifelong process. Your family, like many families, may need support adjusting to life with your new child. Your family and your child may have additional questions at different developmental stages.

General Adoption Resources
Extensive index of adoption resources on the Internet.