Adoption: A Step-by-Step Guide

Information courtesy of the Child Welfare Information Gateway

Are you or someone you know thinking about adopting a child? Read these important steps, outlined below, to familiarize yourself with the various adoption options possible for you.

Step 1: Educate Yourself

What You Should Know
At times, the adoption process can seem complicated, time consuming, and frustrating. However, many resources exist to help prospective adoptive parents educate themselves about adoption.

Local community colleges, adoption exchanges, adoption agencies, hospitals, religious groups, and other organizations may offer adoption preparation programs.

Adoptive parent support groups often are willing to assist people considering adoption. In addition, regional adoption exchanges, local agencies, and State adoption specialists can send you information to help get you started.

There are also many books, magazines, and Websites on this topic. See the resource list at the end of this factsheet for more information.

Some Places to Go
To learn more about what to expect when pursuing specific types of adoption, see the related Child Welfare Information Gateway factsheet Adoption Options: A Fact Sheet for Families and companion chart Adoption Options at-a-Glance, as well as the resources listed at the end of this article.

The National Foster Care & Adoption Directory, available from Information Gateway, provides lists of adoption resources in every State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to assist families in their pursuit of adoption.

Step 2: Understand the Law

What You Should Know
State laws and regulations govern U.S. adoptions. Learning about the adoption laws in your State, or any States involved with your adoption, can help avoid frustrating situations.

Some Places to Go
The State Statutes Search highlights specific adoption-related topics and provides a quick overview and comparison of laws across the States. Information regarding who may adopt, timeframes for consent and revocation of consent to adoption, and termination of parental rights laws are provided in the database, and can be searched by State, territory, or region.