How to Be A Californian Adoptive Parent

So you want to adopt. Where do you even begin? Would you like to pursue a private adoption of an infant? Are you more interested in adopting sibling groups of slightly older children from foster care? Maybe teens are who make your heart soar and you are dying to make a 16-year-old part of your forever family. Where do you even begin?!

Your first step is to find an adoption agency. They will guide you through the steps you need to take. You need to have a framework of what you are looking to do before you even begin. Are you considering foster-to-adopt or private adoption? Would you like to adopt a waiting child? Do you have a religious affiliation that needs to be considered? Get out a notepad and write down things that are important to you. Order them from most to least important. Now you can search for your parameters. For instance, if you are looking for a Christian adoption agency for a domestic infant adoption you would need to search “Christian infant adoption agencies in (County) and surrounding areas.”

The next part of the process is more specific to the type of adoption you are pursuing. Domestic infant adoptions require less training overall but the same background checks and FBI fingerprinting that other types of adoption would. If you are going through a private agency there is a monetary cost to consider. It is not an inexpensive endeavor, so fundraising, applying for adoption grants, etc may be part of your process. You will also need a home study, which your agency may provide, but again, costs money. A potential birth mother will have to choose you so it can take years and there’s a possibility you may never be matched with an infant. This is something to consider before proceeding.

Waiting child adoption requires a background check and fingerprinting, training, a home study, etc. You will specify the parameters of a child or children you are looking to adopt. You will likely be sent to a photo database to look at potential matches. When you decide there is a child you would potentially like to adopt, then the agency will send your application and home study to the child’s caseworker and care team. They will decide if you are a good match and continue from there. These children have often come from a hard place. This is not the same as adopting a tiny baby (obviously) and can be more difficult emotionally. It is a less expensive (potentially free) process.  It can be time-consuming, and it can take months to years to be matched with a child. 

Foster to adopt means you would first foster a child, and then if they become available for adoption, you could then adopt. Simply being a foster-to-adopt family does not guarantee the children entering your home will be adoptable. Many children may come and go before one becomes adoptable. You need to complete all of the steps to become a foster parent, attend training, etc. This is the least expensive but possibly the most emotionally charged option. You may come to desperately love a child that may return to a less than ideal situation, and you have to come to terms with that idea before you begin.

Every choice has its pros and cons and you will have to decide what is right for your family.

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