How To Adopt
In The U.S.

Adopting a child is a process that seems intimidating to many families wanting to welcome a child into their home. To help you get started, adoption experts and parents share with us tips on how to make domestic adoptions as smooth as possible.

Adoptive Mother and Infant
Teri Henick always knew she wanted to be a mom, but after 3 pregnancy loses, she knew she never wanted to be pregnant again.  "I still so badly wanted to become a mother and adoption was a logical solution for us," explains Henick.  "We were both on board from the start," she says.

Getting prepared mentally

"Both parents have to resolve their infertility issues before adopting," says Henick.  "Adoption does lead to a baby, but it cannot replace a biological child.  The need to grieve the loss of that 'biological child,' and for some couples that can be years of testing and treatments." She goes on to say that it is important for both partners to be interested in adopting, and that one does not "drag the other to the adoption process."

Henick is now a step-mom to 18-year-old Nichole, and mom to daughters (adopted at birth) Gabriella, 4, and Elliana, 3. "We chose domestic adoption because I so badly craved that "newborn" phase," explains Henick.  "I wanted to be there from day one, or as early as possible."

Agency adoption vs. private adoption

Henick says once couples have decided on adopting domestically, they need to decide on whether to go with a private adoption or with an agency.  She cautions prospective parents to make sure the agency they are using is licensed to place babies in the state where they reside because the laws vary from state to state.

This is a lesson the Henick's learned the hard way. "We were matched with a baby boy via an on-line site only to find out that there was no legal way for us to adopt him, because he was in Ohio and NY does not allow the use of facilitators."

Finding the right agency

David Pilgrim, Vice President of Adoption Services for Children's Home Society & Family Services (CHSFS) agrees saying parents need to be certain the agency is licensed in your state of residence and that it is currently covered by liability insurance.

When gathering information from agencies, hold off on signing anything or making a commitment until you've read everything and have answered all of your questions. Reach out to families that have gone through the process to see what types of questions and experiences they had, as well as get referrals for reputable agencies.

What you need to know

CHSFS offers the following as questions to get answered during your search for an agency:

• Are the fees for the agency stated clearly?
• What kind of timing is predicted for your adoption?
• Is the agency's information timely and complete?
• Are they willing to answer all of your questions?
• Is the organization fiscally fit?
• How long has the agency been working with in/with a specific program?
• How many children have they placed from the program you are interested in?
• What kind of preparation and education is offered to adoptive parents?
• What are my options if something goes wrong?

Think about the questions and possible concerns you'll have once your adoption is complete. 

CHSFS offers these additional questions to consider:

• What kind of post placement services will the agency provide?  Will it help with the post placement paperwork?
• Does the agency offer other post placement services such as counseling or long-term follow up?

"Adoption is pretty much a 100% guarantee if you stick with it," adds Henick.  "I truly believe that each child will find the family it was meant for.  I can't imagine my children coming to me any other way.  It all makes sense; the infertility, the waiting, the ups and downs, all leads to that one moment when you hold your child for the first time - nothing compares."

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Comments on "Domestic adoptions: What you need to know"

TH June 13, 2008 | 8:04 PM

To "So much left out", I agree with Bill. Adoption can be a beautiful CHOICE for all parties involved. If an agency is "coercing" a "young unmarried mother" to surrender rather than raise thier baby, then that agency certainly is not one I would work with. Any moral agency will have options for birth mothers to assist them in making the decision that is RIGHT for them, be that parenting or placement. I feel sad for you, as it seems YOU have some unresolved issues. Your comment is extremely one-sided on a brief article that was meant to touch on one very small piece of adoption.

Bill P June 13, 2008 | 5:03 AM

To: so much left out. I believe you have some misconceptions about adoption. Adopted children receive birth certificates, my son received his, with his given name (by us) when he was still under 1 years old. With respect to your comment about birth mothers, state laws are very supportive of the birth parents giving them in some cases legal rights well past the time that the baby is given over to the adoptive parents. In our case your birth mother caricature could not be further from the truth. Our birth mother is in her forties and could not care for another child. She made the courageous and more difficult decision of putting the child up for adoption rather than have an abortion. She is a loving and thoughtful human being who we still share pictures with and speak to 1 -2 times per year through an 800 number that she can call at any time. While she is not a direct part of our child's life, she gave us the ultimate gift and we have an incredible amount of respect and love for her which has been shared with our child since he could first talk. At the end of the day, the welfare of the child is paramount, loving parents and honest communication lead to healthy families and healthy children regardless of how your child came to be.

So much left out June 13, 2008 | 3:32 AM

What about the lifelong issues of grief for the surrendering mother? How about the discrimination adoptees experience, not being allowed to have their own birth certificates once they are adults? The exploitation and coercion of young unmarried mothers to surrender as opposed to raising their babies? You've left out so much. This article is extremely one-sided

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