Open adoption has become very commonplace in the United States in the last 25 years. Prior to that, most adoptions were closed and no contact was made between the adoptive parents and birth parents. With open adoption, the birth parents and adoptive parents not only have knowledge of one another, but the adoptive parents and even the child can keep some contact with the birth parents throughout the life of the child with pictures, letters, phone calls and visits. Adoption is a somewhat complicated process with a lot of legalities and paperwork.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Read as much as you can about open adoption. The website adoptionopen.com is a very good resource to learn about the open adoption process. It also provides information and links to adoption agencies, adoption books, adoption forums and much more.
Decide if it is financially feasible for you to adopt a baby through open adoption. The fees associated with adoption can be very expensive, but credits, reimbursements, and other benefits can help make adoption more affordable. Visit adoptivefamilies.com to read more information about financial assistance available to adoptive families. If you decide open adoption is too expensive, consider adopting an older child through the state.
Select an adoption agency or facilitator in your area. It's best to find an agency close to your home, as you will have a lot of interaction with the agency throughout the open adoption process.
Log on to adoption.org and then click "Find Professionals" on the middle of the page. On the next page, click on your home state for a list of adoption agencies, facilitators and attorneys. Read through the information about each agency. Contact information, including phone number, website and application processes, is listed.
Visit one or two agencies you've selected. Get referrals from former clients and ask for literature and brochures. Find out how long the agency has been in business, the costs for adoption and their average wait time.
Select an adopting agency and complete the agency application form. If you are approved from the agency, they will advise you what to do next. Normally the next step is to attend pre-adoption and parenting classes, where you will learn everything about the agency's open adoption process.
Undergo a homestudy. A homestudy is when you express your desire and commitment to adopting through filling out a series of questionnaires and meeting with a social worker several times at your home. The goal of the homestudy is to ensure that you are ready to become an adoptive parent. Homestudies are required by law and take a few months to complete.
Find a match with an expectant mother. The agency will go through many means to help you locate a child to adopt. In addition to any expectant mothers they may have in their care, your agency will market to hospitals, maternity homes, family planning clinics, church groups, physicians and websites to make a match.
Review information provided by your agency about several expectant mothers and narrow it down to one or two that you think are a good match. Your agency worker will give your homestudy and other information to the birth mother or her agency for review. Birthmothers will have the opportunity to meet with the adoptive parents at this time if they wish. Agreements can be made that the adoptive parents will be present at the birth of the child. The adoptive parents and birth parents decide how much contact they will have after the birth of the child.
Bring your baby home. Once the baby is born, placement occurs. The birth parents relinquish their rights and all the appropriate paperwork is filed by your agency or facilitator. A representative from the agency or an attorney files a petition for adoption with the court. The court requests reports and information from the agency and the judge enters the final decree of adoption. This finalization process normally takes six months.
Tips & Warnings
- Contact an attorney to review your adoption paperwork before signing anything.
- If you don't feel comfortable with contact with the birth parents, consider closed option instead.