Adoption: Where to Begin

Building a family through adoption is a wonderful option for many individuals and couples! It can be a time filled with excitement and anticipation as you plan for your growing family. It is important to understand the steps to take and various considerations when it comes to the adoption process, as it can be tricky to navigate or wrap your head around if you are just getting started. At Frame, we are committed to supporting you on this journey by helping you better understand the adoption process, available resources, and necessary steps to take. 

Key takeaways: 

  • The cost of adoption can be anywhere from $2,500 to more than $40,000 depending on the approach (e.g., foster to adopt, domestic vs. international adoption).
  • The rules governing adoption and foster care vary from state to state. Familiarizing yourself with these requirements ahead of time is recommended as you start the adoption process. 
  • The average wait time varies depending on the type of adoption, but is approximately 12 months for domestic adoptions and about 2 years for international adoption depending on the country. 

What are some of the basic questions I should be asking myself if I am considering adoption?   

There are many questions that will surface during the adoption process, but a few big-picture questions that you may want to ask yourself include: 

1. Which adoption options would I consider?

  • Am I open to domestic, international, and/or adoption from foster care?
  • Do I understand what each of these options entails?

2. What adoption agency is right for me?

  • If pursuing private adoption, what attorney will be the right fit for me during this process? 

3. Am I prepared for the financial expenses associated with adoption?

  • Do I have money set aside that can be used for pursuing adoption?
  • Can I adjust my budget to accommodate the expenses with an adoption process?
  • Will I be able to afford additional costs for health insurance, life insurance, medical expenses, and/or childcare if needed? 
  • Does my employer offer parental leave for adoption? How much leave would I need to take after welcoming a new child into my family?

4. Do I have a support network in place, or how would I build one?

  • What community groups, family and friends, or mentors do I have in my life as I navigate the complexities that come with this journey? 

5. What do I need to learn both pre-adoption and when I begin the adoption process? For example, 

Help me understand the financial component of adoption. How should I look at this from a budgeting standpoint? 

The adoption process is not only an emotional investment, but for many it is a financial one too. Understanding how to plan ahead and budget for this journey can be very helpful in order to reduce surprises and eliminate financial stressors when possible. 

While there are many costs to consider with adoption, some of the bigger differentiating factors are whether you plan to adopt locally or domestically, internationally, or pursue foster to adoption. Another cost component to consider is whether you are adopting via an agency versus a private attorney. The cost of domestic infant adoption ranges from $25,000-$40,000, while foster care adoption can range from $2,500-$11,000. International adoption cost is dependent upon the country you are adopting from and the travel fees but ranges from about $10,000-$40,000.

Included in these overall cost estimates are the following: 

  • Application fees
  • Agency costs
  • Private/attorney adoption fees 
  • Consultant fees
  • Travel fees
  • Expectant mother fees
  • Legal fees 
  • Home study fees 
  • Placement fees 
  • Post-placement fees

Adoption grants are available for individuals and couples to help ease the financial burden that can come with this family building process. If interested in this option, keep an eye out for various grant opportunities! A few sites to check out when looking into grants include the Gift of Adoption Fund, Associates Home Loan Adoption Grant, A Child Waits Foundation, The Never Alone Foundation (international adoption grants), and various other grant opportunities listed on the Holt International website.  

We also recommend that you consider additional resources to aid you financially through this process including: 

What does the adoption process look like? 

The general adoption process often looks like this but can vary based on the route you choose:

  1. Select the type of adoption that’s right for you (e.g., international, domestic, foster to adopt). 
  2. Choose an adoption professional (e.g. agency, attorney). 
  3. Work with your professional to ensure that you have the information you need to move forward. Oftentimes this means attending an orientation and training session. 
  4. Apply for and complete your pre-placement assessment (PPA). This is also known as a home study.
  5. Work with your professional to submit your approved PPA in order to match with a birth mother (if applicable) or children in need of an adoptive home.
  6. Once matched, connect with the birth mother or meet your child and begin the transition plan. 
  7. Complete the legal adoption process and obtain permanent legal custody of your adopted child. 

While these steps capture what the general adoption process often looks like, there is a possibility that an adoption can fall through for various reasons. This is referred to as an adoption disruption and can be a period of time where the hopeful adoptive family experiences a world of emotion - shock, anger, grief, and more. Understanding that this is a possibility ahead of time may be beneficial as you consider the journey ahead and the various paths that it can take.

Are there any organizations or other resources that you would recommend as I consider adoption? 

There are many organizations and adoption agencies that one can look into when it comes to adoption, which can be very helpful but also daunting. Some of the agencies that we would recommend looking at for starters include American Adoptions for national adoptions, Holt International for international adoptions, Adoptions Together for national and international adoptions, and Creating a Family which is focused on foster care and national adoptions. As you seek answers to your questions and consider all that the adoption process entails, it’s important to note that many organizations offer free information sessions and/or information packets if you go on their websites, so we recommend taking advantage of this!

How can Frame help me?  

Whether you are just starting to consider the idea of adoption or you are in the process currently, Frame is here to help guide you and support you throughout the journey. When reviewing your initial assessment with your Frame Coach, the two of you will have the opportunity to talk through your family building goals in more depth. If adoption is one of these goals, your Coach can provide you with additional information and resources so that you can take the next steps. We can also help you look at this decision from multiple angles if need be. Every family building journey is unique, and we are here to help guide your journey with information and support as you pursue your goals.

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