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Jessica, could you be a little more specific so members know how to help? Are you looking to adopt and want to know how each works, first steps, agencies, etc?

It might also be a good idea to look at the Resources sticky first, to help refine your questions.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Originally Posted by lauren
Jessica, could you be a little more specific so members know how to help? Are you looking to adopt and want to know how each works, first steps, agencies, etc?

It might also be a good idea to look at the Resources sticky first, to help refine your questions.

Basically, I'm refering to if you can see your baby/ies while they are still in the hospital (domestic) before you and your family get a little approval to start with them or whatever its called. Yeah, want to know how each works, first steps, agencies, etc.

I pretty much I want adopt as well as my own children, I want to adopt international more domestic, I don't know why international more domestic.

1,329 Posts
I would suggest checking out the resources stickies at the top of the forum for some pointers to basic overview books, websites, etc. There are some good ones out there that lay out the process nicely. Agencies also usually have free information sessions, so you could call up a couple in your area and attend.

Also, adopted children will be your "own" children, just the same as biological children. (It's important to model and practice supportive language for our kids and for others, which is why I mention this...)

6,061 Posts
Well I am not an expert by any means on adoption but I do know international more than domestic.

From what I understand for domestic you are chosen/ matched up/ paired with the expecting birthmom. I think the amount of contact is basically up to how much contact both you and she want. The same thing can go with being present at the birth, again up to the birthmom and what she is comfortable with, and any contact after the adoption. Basically there is no set rules. I think but could be wrong that each state is different in the amount of time after the birth the birthmom has to change her mind.

For me and my husband we chose to go international. A couple of deciding factors were the fact that we were very young, I was 21 when we first started. So because of our age the chance of any birthmom picking us was not in our favor. And even for international we were very limited on which countries we could adopt from. We eventually decided on Guatemala. the deciding factors for us was that for one we qualified and second the baby would be in foster care and not an orphanage. Again each coutry is different so look into that. From start to finish it took us about a year to complete. We brought opur daughter home just shy of turning 5 months old, right now for Guatemala the average age for pick up is 8 months so we were very lucky. On the flip side I do think Guatemala is one of the most expensive countries to adopt from, just from comparing with families who chose other countries.

47 Posts
You've asked a complicated question, since there are several types of domestic adoption, and many countries open to international adoption.

Domestically, to put things in very general terms, you can do an adoption: a) from the foster care system; b) by identifying a birthmother privately, without an agency; and c) through an agency. Internationally, each country that is open to adoption will have its own set of rules regarding who may adopt, what types of children are available, what the process is like, what fees you will encounter, and so on.

However, in all cases, the basics are as follows:

1. You will need a homestudy by a provider in your state. The homestudy helps to determine whether or not you are fit to provide care for an adopted child. It also helps to prepare you for the challenges of adopting, as well as for parenting an adopted child.

2. Your adoption process will be determined by the governmental bodies involved. For example, if you adopt domestically, you will need to abide by the laws in your state and, if the child is not from your own state, the laws of the child's state. If you adopt internationally, you will need to follow the adoption laws of the foreign country, as well as the immigration laws of the USCIS.

3. Your adoption will need to be finalized, usually in a court of law. (In some countries, the finalization is a notarial, not a judicial, process.)

4. You may have some post-placement requirements, such as having a social worker visit you three times during the first year you have your child, and/or making a report to the foreign country about your child's process. With international adoption, you may or may not be required to readopt in the U.S., depending on the type of visa that is given to your child and the laws of your state.

If you adopt from the domestic foster care system, the child has already been born and is in the custody of the state (your state or another state). Few healthy infants and toddlers are available, but you can get lucky. The greatest need is for parents willing to adopt school aged children, sibling groups, and/or children with special needs. Fees are minimal, since even the costs of your homestudy and finalization may be paid by the state, and some children may come with subsidies for their medical care.

In some cases, you may do a foster-to-adopt placement, where you accept a foster child who is not yet legally free for adoption, but whom you may eventually be able to adopt, since there is a good chance that relinquishment will occur.

If you identify a birthmother privately, you do all the work to find a pregnant woman who is considering relinquishing her child when he/she is born, or who already has a child whom she cannot parent. This may involve sending letters to obstetricians who may know of someone with an unplanned pregnancy, telling all your friends and relatives that you are trying to find a birthmother, advertising in the newspaper (if it's legal in your state), etc.

You will need to have a homestudy done by a provider in your state. You will also need to have an attorney. At minimum, he/she can do the finalization in your state's courts, but it's best to use him/her to advise you during the adoption process, as well. As an example, he/she can advise you on what birthmother expenses you can and cannot pay, help you check out a situation if you think you are being scammed, or serve as an intermediary in dealing with a birthmother.

Private adoptions can be low-cost or high-cost. For example, if all you need is a homestudy and help with finalization, you may pay well under $10,000. However, if you need to pay a lot of legitimate birthmother expenses -- for example, her own legal fees, her medical care and counseling, and maybe her housing if she has been kicked out of her parents' home -- things can add up. Also, private adoption tends to be very risky. Many people wind up either paying expenses to someone who scams them or to a legitimate birthmother who decides to parent her child once he/she is born, and may have several failed adoptions before they actually complete one. Thus, it can wind up costing a person $30,000 or more.

Domestic agency adoptions tend to be less risky than private adoptions, but they can be the most expensive, especially if you want to adopt a healthy Caucasian newborn. Some people spend over $40,000. The reasons are simple. For one thing, the agency does all the work of finding a pregnant woman who is likely to "follow through" on her initial expression of interest in placing her baby for adoption (or a family who can no longer parent), helps you negotiate legitimate birthmother expense payments, helps counsel you on things like how open you want your adoption to be, and so on. For another, there are far fewer healthy Caucasian newborns needing families than there are families seeking to adopt them, and higher fees help limit the number of families who apply. Arrangements with agencies vary, but if you use an agency in your state, it will usually do your homestudy and arrange for finalization.

There are many variations on the domestic adoption theme. As an example, some people find a birthmother privately, but use an attorney, rather than an agency, to help with finalization. Some people use a facilitator (an unlicensed provider) to help them find a birthmother, if it is legal in their state, and then use a homestudy provider and lawyer for the rest of the work. People who adopt a child from another state need to satisfy the requirements both of their own state and the child's state, which means going through something known as the Interstate Compact.

As to international adoption, not all countries allow it. And some countries -- particularly those in Western Europe and the English-speaking world -- simply have so few children available for adoption that they cannot even meet the demand from their own citizens. You can go to the website of the U.S. State Department at, to see statistics on the most popular countries for international adoption, and to see the basic rules for various countries. Be aware that some countries allow ONLY adoptions done through licensed American agencies accredited by the overseas government, while others allow independent and facilitator-aided adoption. Independent and facilitator-assisted adoptions CAN be cheaper, but the risks are so high that some people actually wind up paying more than for an adoption done through a licensed agency

When you adopt internationally, you have a homestudy by a provider in your state. You will also need to file a form called the I-600A with the USCIS, and be approved to adopt internationally. If you use an agency for the actual placement, you may usually choose one anywhere in the U.S., although Korea requires you to use an agency in your state unless you are doing a special needs adoption. The agency makes sure that you will be acceptable to the foreign country, works with the foreign country to identify a child whom you can parent, helps you put together the paperwork required by the foreign government, helps you arrange travel to meet your child and finalize your adoption, ensures that you will be able to get a visa for the child to enter the U.S., and helps with any post-placement requirements.

The total costs for an international adoption can run from well under $20,000 to over $40,000, depending on your choice of country. One important component of costs is travel. Obviously, if a country requires you to make two trips abroad, it will be more expensive than if you have to make only one trip. If a country requires you to reside there for six weeks, it will be more expensive than one that requires you only to come for a few days. If a country allows escort, you will pay for the escort's travel, but you won't pay the cost of having two parents travel and stay in country for an extended period. (But travel is HIGHLY recommended, so that you can develop an understanding of your child's birth culture.) At this time, China and Ethiopia are among the least costly countries from which people adopt. Russia and Guatemala are among the higher-cost countries.

With international adoption, you will not bring home a newborn. A few countries refer children soon after they are born, but the foreign adoption process and the U.S. immigration process often take six months to a year to complete. Many countries do not refer children until they have done a birthparent search for a few months (in the case of abandonment), or until they have tried unsuccessfully to identify a domestic family for a child for a few months.

Here is an example of China's adoption program, which is one of the most organized in the world. This example presumes that you are requesting a healthy infant under age two; the process is different for certain older children and children with special needs.

1. You have a homestudy by a provider in your state. This can take one to three months or so.

2. You send the I-600A and your homestudy report to the USCIS, which then issues an appointment for you to be fingerprinted for an FBI criminal records check. If your I-600A and the fingerprint check are approved, you will be sent the 171-H or 797-C form, approving you to bring an orphan into the U.S. Getting 171-H/797-C approval can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

3. You work with the placement agency of your choice -- China requires use of a licensed, 501(c)3 non-profit U.S. agency -- to put together a dossier of documents that China requires. The documents include things like your homestudy report, your 171-H/797C, your birth and marriage certificates, any divorce decrees, letters from your employer verifying employment and salary, financial statement, medical form completed by your doctor, and so on.

4. Once you have your dossier documents, you have them all notarized, certified, and authenticated. This is a complicated process, and everything must be done right. For example, the signature of the notary who notarized a particular document must be certified as valid by the Secretary of State in the state where the notary practices. Some agencies will help you do part of the process, such as sending items to the appropriate Chinese Consulate in the U.S. for authentication, either within the normal scope of services or as an optional add-on, for an extra charge.

5. Once your dossier is fully complete, and your agency translates it (either in this country or in its China office), your agency will send it to the China Center for Adoption Affairs in Beijing, an arm of the Chinese government. It will generally be sent along with the dossiers of several other families, who will probably wind up becoming your travel group.

6. The CCAA will officially "log in" your dossier and the dossiers of the other families in your group. You will now begin your wait for a referral. China processes dossiers in chronological order, so you will not get a referral until all the other dossiers received before yours get referrals. (The only exception is for certain special needs adoptions.) Right now, that's likely to take a year or so, since about 7,000 Americans adopt from China every year, and at least the same number of people from other countries also adopt from China every year.

7. At some point during your wait, the CCAA will go through your dossier, to determine that it is done right and that your family is truly eligible to adopt, under Chinese law, before it can begin making a match.

8. Then, right before referral, the CCAA will begin matching. To understand the matching process, you have to understand that, just as the agency groups of parent dossiers sit in a queue and get processed in chronological order, so do individual orphanage groups of child dossiers. When your group comes up for matching, the CCAA will take the next available orphanage group of child dossiers, and decide which parent in your group is best suited to adopt each child in the orphanage group.

The CCAA will look at factors such as your age, the age of child you requested, your interests, and even your appearance, as well as the age of the child, the child's personality, and the child's appearance, among other things, in making a match. China considers any child under two to be an infant, and requires you to accept a child of any age from about six months to 22 months, although you can express a preference for -- as an example -- a child 6-12 months old. If you request a girl, you will usually get a girl, as China is one of only two countries where more girls than boys are available for adoption. If you request a boy or twins, you have to be willing to accept a girl or a single child, since there may simply be no boys or twins in the next orphanage group of dosssiers. You may not adopt two unrelated children at once (except occasionally in the case of school aged children who have functioned as siblings and might have an easier time adjusting to adoption if placed together.) Virtually all of the children were abandoned, and birthparents weren't located, even after a three month search.

9. Once the CCAA has matched you with a child, and all the other people in your group with a child, it will send information about the referrals to your agency, which will pass the information on to you and the other families. You will have a few days to review the information and decide whether to accept the referral.

Your child's information will include a photo or two, a brief medical report, and a brief report outlining things like where and when the child was found, where he/she is living (may be orphanage or foster family), what he/she eats, what his/her personality is like, etc. Many families choose to have the medical information reviewed by their pediatricians or by an adoption medicine specialist, before deciding whether to accept the referral.

The vast majority of families will accept their referrals. However, you CAN decline a referral for a good reason -- usually defined as a potential medical issue that was identified by a reputable adoption medicine specialist. For example, the CCAA could have read a file hastily and accidentally referred a child who is a Hepatitis B carrier to a family who did not indicate a willingness to accept this special need. The doctor could look at the lab information and realize that the child is Hep. B positive. If you decline a child for a good medical reason, a new referral will be made almost immediately.

However, if you decline a referral because a child "isn't cute enough", or has overly dark skin or ****** eyes, or is a few months older or younger than you wanted, you probably will NOT get a different referral.

10. Assuming that you accept your referral, you will send a signed form to your agency, which will forward it to China with the forms signed by the other members in your group. China will begin making its preparations for you to travel to adopt your child, and your agency will begin its own preparations for travel. You cannot actually travel until the CCAA sends out official authorizations to travel for the families in your group and until your agency has scheduled appointments at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou for your group to get visas for the children. This usually takes about six weeks.

11. As soon as your agency gets all the travel authorizations, it will complete travel preparations and send you on your way to China. You can expect the trip to take 10 days to two weeks. You and your groupmates will stay in international-quality hotels and have a guide/translator with you. One or both spouses in a married couple, or a person adopting as a single, must travel; escort is not allowed.

12. Many people travel to a "gateway" city like Hong Kong or Beijing, and rest there for a few days to get over jet lag, since you won't get much rest once you get your child. Others go straight to their child's province. In any case, you and your group will be expected to assemble in your child's province, either in your child's city or in the provincial capital, by a certain date.

13. Once you get to your hotel in your child's province, you will usually meet your child that day or, if it's a weekend or holiday, on the next business day. In some cases, your group will actually travel to the children's orphanage; in others, the children will be brought to your hotel or to a nearby government office. Once your child is placed into your arms, you will have custody of him/her for the rest of the trip -- and the rest of your life!

14. Either that day or the next business day, your group will be taken to a government office in the province to finalize the adoptions. The process doesn't involve going before a judge. You will usually meet as a group with provincial officials, who will ask each family a few questions, such as how you plan to educate your child. Your group will then usually be asked to promise never to abandon your child. Then, with the help of your guide, you will sign some paperwork and, possibly, have your child's footprint taken.

15. You will then wait in your child's province for the official adoption documents -- the child's birth certificate, adoption decree, Chinese passport, and abandonment certificate -- to be prepared. It takes 5-7 days, during which time most families tour their children's birth city, bond with their new children, and try to get them onto good sleep and nap schedules.

16. Once you have your child's documents, and your guide has reviewed them for accuracy, your group will head for Guangzhou, in Guangdong province. Once there, you will have your child's visa photograph taken, and go to a designated clinic for a cursory visa medical exam. This is done with your group and guide.

17. You will then go with your child and your group to your visa appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou. Americans MUST get visas for adopted children there; they cannot go to the Embassy in Beijing or to any other U.S. Consulate in China. The appointment will usually be on the day after you arrive in Guangzhou, or the following day. You will hand over a copy of your child's documents, plus some paperwork such as the I-600 (companion piece to the I-600A that you filled out earlier.) If everything is in order, you will sign some forms, such as a form in which you promise to get your child appropriately immunized when he/she arrives home. You will then be told to return the next day after 3 p.m. to pick up your child's visa.

18. The next day, your group will go back to the Consulate to pick up the visas. You are then free to leave for the U.S. Many people begin their homeward journey that day. Other families leave the following day or even do some touring. It's not an easy trip -- going halfway around the world with a new baby -- but you will soon forget the difficulty when you are home and enjoying being a parent.

19. You will still have some things to do, such as getting your child a Social Security number, having required post-placement visits done, possibly readopting in your state, and so on. But you will be a parent, and that's what's most important.

I hope this helps.

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