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What to Do Before Filling out Your Adoption Application

iStock_000006877285XSmallIf you’ve just decided to adopt, you’re probably doing your research to find out all there is to know about the adoption process. You’re doing the right thing since there is a lot to consider prior to making the decision to pursue adoption. When you find out how complex the adoption process is, you’ll need to take some time to gather and organize all this information; however, if you know what to do before filling out your adoption application, you can survive the process easier and less stressful.

Educate Yourself
Your first step is to educate yourself about adoption. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful books, websites, blogs, and more resources that can help you to learn the important aspects of the adoption process. If you have the opportunity to connect with a family who has already adopted, that has proven to be helpful for many other families. When you know what to expect and how to prepare, half of the work is already done.

Choose Your Adoption Type
Think about what type of adoption do you want. Think about whether you’d like to adopt internationally, domestically, or through foster care; about the age of the child you’d like; and the type of communication you’d be open to having with the birth family. When you read about all the options there are within the adoption process, try to visualize situations that each adoption type includes to find out if it’s the right decision for you and your family.

Research Adoption Professionals
Thoroughly research different adoption professionals and agencies. This is an important step since it’s crucial to find an adoption professional you’re comfortable with. If you know someone who can recommend one for you, that is helpful. You can also arrange some interviews with different professionals and prepare questions to ask agencies about their policies and procedure.

Take Classes
Some adoption professionals and agencies offer orientation meetings or require you to take adoption or parenting classes. Be sure to follow all of their recommendations to learn all you can about the adoption process and to find out more about the roles and responsibilities of adoptive parents. If they don’t offer any, consider seeking some out on your own.

Legal Matters
Thoroughly research state and federal regulations regarding adoption and the rights of adoptive parents so you’re fully prepared and don’t have any surprises later on. Your adoption professional may be able to recommend a lawyer with experience in the field of adoption who can answer all your legal questions. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with all the rights of birthparents as well.

Assess Your Finances
The financial cost of adoption is also important to consider. Get your finances in order and decide on your adoption budget before filling out your adoption application. There are adoption financial assistance options available, so definitely take some time to see if you qualify for any grants, loans, or other adoption benefits.

Get Organized
You may have already heard, but the adoption process involves quite a bit of paperwork, and it’s important to remain organized so nothing gets lost or misplaced in the shuffle. Gather and prepare all the paperwork that will be required for your adoption application and throughout the adoption process. Purchase binders and file folders or come up with a system to organize your adoption paperwork from the moment you start gathering it. You’ll see how it’s important to have copies of documents, so remember to scan or copy every single piece of your adoption paperwork.

Have References in Mind
Some adoption applications require personal and/or professional references at some point in the adoption process. Some adoption professionals and agencies may even require letters of recommendation. Think about who in your life you’d like to be references for you and your family and ask them how they feel about it ahead of time so they’re not taken by surprise and to ensure they feel comfortable with the request.

Prepare for the Home Study
One big step early in the adoption process is the completion of the adoption home study. Begin researching what the requirements are for your adoption professional or agency — some will not work with a family until they have successfully completed their home study, and some are more flexible. Thoroughly research the process and find out what you’ll need to do to prepare and get started.