Requirements to Adopt: A Checklist to Get Started On Your Adoption Journey

Requirements to Adopt: A Checklist to Get Started On Your Adoption Journey

Whatever type of adoption you choose, there will be requirements to prepare. So as you begin the process, you have to ask yourself, "Are you ready? Are your documents complete?".

Adoption is a legal process to formalize adding a new member to your family. Your first concern should be if you’re able to provide whatever the federal and state authorities are demanding for you to be qualified as an adoptive parent.

No need to fret though because RainbowKids has prepared a comprehensive checklist for you, to know what you need to prepare, to help the process run as smoothly as possible when your adoption journey officially starts.

Basic Requirements to Adopt

As much as possible, follow the requirements posed by the court under the jurisdiction of where you want to adopt. The basic requirements when adopting a child will vary from one state to another, from one type of adoption to another, and from one adoption agency to another. It will all depend on the authorities involved. But to give you an overview, here are the basic requirements when adopting a child:

  •    - Be of legal age, 21 years old or older, and shows stability and maturity.
  •    - Submit an application form, together with the requested documents.
  •    - Provide pertinent information about your background and lifestyle, whether it be medical or financial.
  •    - Show proof of marriage and/or divorce, if applicable.
  •    - Complete a home study.
  •    - Undertake a criminal background check.
  •    - Complete a background check for any history of abuse or neglect.
  •    - Complete training and orientation about the current issues faced by foster children.

What The Adoption Agencies and Authorities Require You to Have

There’s more to it than what is listed on every adoption website or information portal you visit. Essentially, these lists of basic requirements want to test you. Are you conscientiously fulfilling your duty as a citizen? Have you done anything deplorable to any individual? Are you fullyready to meet a child’s, or children’s, needs?

The authorities know pretty well (as much as you) how big of a deal adoption is. The adoption process is necessary to ready you and to make sure the child will have a provided for and nurtured future. Below is a list of what you should do, to be ready as you start your adoption journey:

Maturity and Stability

An adopted child needs a stable home. And this can only happen when there’s a loving parent who can make the child feel safe, guide him, and provide for his needs as he grows up. The requirements mentioned above help ensure that the child gets all of that. That you’ll be able to support him emotionally, psychologically, and economically.

Besides having sound finances, mental and emotional stability are also needed before adoption. Acording to studies, there are three dimensions to it: valence, behavioral, and cognitive-emotional maturity to parenthood. These may also be applied in adopting, in thefollowing ways:

  •    - Valence refers to the values and/or emotional orientation of the parent towards the outcome of adopting a child.
  •    - Behavioral maturity concerns an adoptive parent’s participation in intimate, social, & career relationships. This also concerns how a parent continuously seeks information about adoption and future parenthood.
  •    - Cognitive-emotional maturity refers to your general approach to parenthood and parental roles.

What’s your vision of parenthood based on what you know and who has influenced you? Do you feel excited about being a parent of your adopted child? What aspect of parenthood are you most excited about? All these things matter, as you need to be ready to take on the lifelong, and yet very life-giving, role of an adoptive parent.

Home Study

A home study is required, no matter if it’s domestic or international adoption, for all prospective adoptive parents before any placement. It varies from state to state, depending on the laws and policies. It may prove lengthy, but know that home studies are there to ready you as a parent and to make sure the child has a loving and safe home. According to the Children’s Bureau, a home study process has three main purposes:

  •    - To educate and prepare the prospective adoptive parent for adoption
  •    - To help agencies evaluate if you’re capable and suitable to be the parent/s of a child
  •    - To help social workers and/or home study specialists match a child to a prospective parent that will meet his needs based on the gathered information

Orientation Sessions

Adoption agencies hold an orientation on adoption with adoptive parents. Through the orientation, you get familiarized with the adoption agency and its adoption program. Typically, adoption agencies hold multiple sessions so the parents are well-acquainted with the process and to ensure they’re ready for this lifelong commitment. Most of the time, only qualified prospective parents are invited by the adoption professionals to go through these informal get-to-know meet-ups.

For adoptive parents like you, these orientation sessions may also help you test the waters if a particular licensed adoption agency is the one who’s going to hold your hand through this adoption journey.

Preadoption Training

Various adoption agencies require qualified prospective parents to attend preadoption training. Sessions are supervised by the agency or by an approved training provider. Adoptive parent training also exists for foster care adoption and kinship/relative adoption. Again, these mandatory steps in your adoptive journey will vary from state to state and even from one country to the next.

For international adoption, if you’re adopting a child from a country that’s part of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, you must clock in ten (10) hours of pre-service training.

Here are some resources on what some states used for their preadoption training:

Adoption Interviews

For families planning to welcome a new member soon, it’s best to inform each and everyone involved first before you decide. Adoption interviews are conducted with every adult in the household. And there will be many of these.

Individual interviews let your social workers get to know you and the household better, especially each person’s goals and attitudes towards the forthcoming adoption of a child. Many adoptees have experienced trauma. Will you be able to be supportive as they heal through their traumas? It’s very important to ensure the child is welcomed by the whole family lovingly.

Home Visits

During in-home visits, the licensed social worker will observe your family relations, your home, and the neighborhood. The social worker will discuss and ensure the child will have a safe accommodation—safety precautions observed, and his or her own space prepared.

Most parents feel anxious about home visits. Just a tip from RainbowKids: be yourself and be honest with the information you’re going to share with your social worker. You shouldn’t worry if the requirements aren’t yet in place during the home visit. The adoption professional will give you time to child-proof your home during a time. So, listen, and gain some insights from them.

Adoption Health Statement From A Physician

A current medical report is mandatory for all prospective adoptive parents. Set an appointment with your family physician. Only a licensed physician, or a nurse trained to perform health assessments, can complete the health statement form provided by the adoption agency.

Adoption agencies must check whether there are any medical issues (physical and mental) that might affect your parenting abilities. As much as possible, the child will have no problem being provided for (of guidance, support, and basic needs) until he or she reaches adulthood.

Income And Health Coverage Statements              

Intercountry adoption is one type that would be expensive for most. It would require you to pay the birth country’s different fees and to travel even before placing the child. The adoption process will require you to shell out some money. However, before you ponder on that, you must be financially stable enough to give the child life.

Here are some resources the adoption agencies might ask for the following to provide. You’ll be a reliable provider for the child’s needs:

  • W-2 Form - This form is filed for your federal and state taxes. It shows pertinent information regarding the income you’ve earned; the taxes withheld from your paycheck, and benefits provided during a year.
  • Bank statements - Certified bank statement is a detailed record of the transactions (amount withdrawn, amount deposited, and interests earned) on your account within a period.
  • Health care insurance for the new child - There are health plans that cover everyone in the family, including the adoptee. If the adopted child has unique medical needs, adoptive parents might consider health care options offered by insurances. 
  • Investment portfolio, retirement plans, financial records, etc.

Background Checks

For a prospective adoptive parent to qualify, a state and national criminal history records check and a child abuse check must be done. These will be requested from the State Police Bureau of Identification or may be checked over National Crime Information Database (NCID).

Adoption agencies require payment of a processing fee per person. The background checks would also require you to complete fingerprint hard cards and provide the information needed. Typically, fingerprint-based background check results will take 2-4 weeks from the FBI and the local office.

Autobiographical Statement for Adoption

You and your spouse will have to prepare an autobiography for yourself. The purpose of autobiographical statements for adoption is for the adoption professionals to get to know you.

The adoption agency wants to learn more about the future adoptive parent. You may share your background, your childhood & family experiences, your successes & failures, your outlook on life, your hobbies & passions, your role in the community, your routine, and many more.

Autobiographical statements in some agencies have packets filled with questions regarding your life from childhood to adulthood to parenthood and previous marriages if needed. You may use these questions as a guide for your autobiography.

The adoption agency just wants a first-hand account of your life and gives them an idea of how you’ll be as an adoptive parent. Be honest and open!


It’s not just when applying for a job position that needs a list of references, even when qualifying to be an adoptive parent, they’re needed too. It can be daunting. As much as possible, you’d most likely aim for someone who’d give you a big glow up and not know you off the waitlist for adoptive parents.

Most adoption agencies require several references apart from any family members. On average, you’d be required to list three to four people. So, do you have anyone in mind you may use as a reference? Here are a few things that could help you choose your references:

  • Who Knows You Best? List someone who has known you for over two years and you regularly engage with. Someone who openly supports your adoption plans and will most likely do so as you parent the future child.
  • Best Disposition. Pick someone who won’t be short with positive words and who’d surely pick up the phone when a social worker calls. Sometimes, no matter how one can be helpful as you trust him/her so much, what they think of you won’t translate into paperwork agreeably.
  • Diversity. Don’t just rally one group of friends. You’d have to pick from your church group, your book club, your childhood friend, and the likes. In this way, the social worker can gauge how you are capable in different aspects of life.

Have You Completed The Checklist of Adoption Requirements?

We will not deny adoption process is going to be long and bureaucratic. But we assure you, everything will be worthwhile in the end. We hope the checklist for requirements to adopt helps you prepare yourself mentally, and even physically, before even the adoption process starts.

As long as you have everything on this checklist ready, issues during the adoption process will hopefully be limited. Be well-equipped; gauge if you’re qualified as an adoptive parent. If not, you still have time to organize and put things in the right places. RainbowKids can give you a helping hand as you go through this momentous phase of your life and your family!

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