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What is the Adoption Process?

Two potential fathers sit with an adoption counselor to discuss the adoption process.“Thinking about adopting a child? There’s a lot to consider,” writes Lisa Fields, WebMD. One of the first questions we hear from families considering adoption is “What is the Adoption Process?” It’s a seemingly simple question with a rather complex answer because the process is different for everyone. The good news is that your adoption agency will help guide you through the entire process and help you on your path to parenthood. And while no two adoption journeys are ever the same, there are several common steps throughout the process. So, let’s dive right in.

Looking at the Adoption Process

Step 1) The adoption process begins when you decide to adopt a child.

Step 2) Choose an adoption agency. “Working with a small, local adoption agency rather than a large out-of-state agency has many benefits,” says Jessie McNaughton, Family Connections, Inc.

Step 3)  Next, you need to determine whether you want to adopt an infant or an older child out of foster care? Adopting an infant within the U.S. on average takes between 3 and 24 months, while adopting older children from foster care can take 2 to 12 months. However, there is no way to truly predict how long the process could take. Wait times vary pretty drastically from adoption to adoption.

I tell people it can be days, months or years,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C.

Step 4) The adoption home study comes next. “It involves things like a background check, a family history, a doctor’s clearance, and a few interviews to make sure you’re a good person,” explains Collin Rainey. “And yes, there’s also the in-home meeting.” A social worker will visit the family’s home, interview family members and their references, as well as review the family’s financial history, to assess their suitability for adoption. It can be a stressful experience for first-time adoptive parents, but it is important to remember that the home study is designed to “screen in” a family – rather than “screen out.” 

A home study can take up to 90 days to complete once the family has submitted all of the necessary documents.

Step 5) To start the matching and placement phase, Adoption Makes Family asks potential adoptive families to create a Birth Parent Book. This book is about you and your family and is a way for you to reach out to a potential birth parent as an introduction and show them what adoption means to you.

“Your [birth parent book] is the most important marketing tool you have to connect with an expectant mother who is facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption for her baby,” says Russell Elkins, adoption professional. 

Step 6) In many situations, birth parents choose to meet the potential adoptive family. Your adoption counselor will be present for this meeting to help you and the birth parents come to know each other, talk about your respective adoption journeys, and start a relationship that will lead to a loving adoption plan.

Step 7) If you’re adopting a newborn, the next step is the birth. When the baby is born, The birth parents may invite you to come to the hospital to visit, or they may choose to keep this moment private. This is a birth mother’s choice and your adoption counselor will be involved to help you and the birth mother gently through this process as well.

Step 8) Birth parents have 30 days to change their mind and elect to parent the child. If a birth parent expresses an uncertainty about the adoption plan, Adoption Makes Family has a Cradle Care family who cares for the baby during this 30 day period. While there is no way to completely remove the emotional pain associated with a changed adoption plan, having the baby cared for by a surrogate family for a short time is one small effort we make to help adoptive families through this difficult part of the journey.

Step 9) Begin your new life as a loving family.

Questions About the Adoption Process?

Adoption Makes Family is here for you. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. Our experienced professionals can help walk you through the adoption process and answer any questions you may have.

Call Us Now at (410) 683-2100

If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at or use our online contact form.


  1. “Adoption Cost and Timing Survey 2014-2015.” Adoptive Families, 24 Oct. 2016,
  2. “Adoptions in America are declining.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 24 June 2017,
  3. “Adoption Study Discusses Current State of Adoption.” National Council for Adoption, 15 Feb. 2017,
  4. Crary, David. “As Number of Adoptions Drops, Many US Agencies Face Strains.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report,
  5. “FAQs.” National Adoption Center,

“How Long Does It Take To Adopt A Child.” Adoption Network,

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