Congratulations! You've taken the first step into the wonderful world of adoption. You are doing your research! It cannot be emphasized enough how important doing your research with reputable sources online is in this process. With the wonderful world of Google, this first step is literally right at your fingertips.
As with all major life decisions, and whatever type of adoption you choose, there will be requirements and paperwork you will need to prepare.
The best resource we recommend to answer most of the government-required documents questions regarding international adoption is the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs
Whether you are looking at domestic adoption or international adoption it is important to know that requirements may vary from one agency to another, one state to another and one country to another. This article will cover the requirements for international adoption.
Basic requirements for international adoption include:
- You must be a U.S. citizen
- Married couples or individuals should be at least 25 years old
- Married couples must adopt the child unanimously
- You must fulfill any requirements, such as fingerprinting, health, home study, and criminal history checks
Maturity and Stability
All children need a stable home environment. It cannot be stressed enough, however, that children who come from trauma need this stability x 100! United loving parents who make the child feel safe, provide positive guidance, and fulfill important needs throughout childhood is crucial. Emotional, psychological, and economic support is the key.
A homestudy is required regardless of if you are adopting domestically or internationally. They should be done by a reputable accredited agency. Sometimes your placing agency will have a department staffed by specialists who can perform this important piece of adoption preparation. If they do not, they will direct you to where you need to go. The three main purposes of a homestudy are to educate and prepare prospective adoptive parents for adoption, to help agencies evaluate your capabilities and suitabilities to be a parent, and to help social workers and/or homestudy specialists match a child to a prospective parent.
Adoption agencies hold orientation sessions on adoption with adoptive parents. Through the orientation, you become familiarized with the adoption agency and their 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 sessions. This is a great way for you to get to know the adoption provider and see if they are the right fit for you.
You will find most 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.
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.
Individual interviews let your social workers get to know you and the household better, especially each person’s goals and attitudes toward the forthcoming adoption of a child. It’s very important to ensure the child is welcomed by the whole family lovingly.
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 including whether safety precautions are observed, and his or her own space is prepared.
Most parents feel anxious about home visits. 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 visit. The adoption professional will give you time to make changes during their visit. Listen and gain some insights from them.
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 placing agency
Placing agencies are checking to see whether there are any medical issues (physical and /or mental) that might affect your parenting abilities.
Income And Health Coverage Statements
There are definitely financial obligations attached to adoption. Intercountry adoption not only has fees from the U.S. side, but there are also fees required from the child's birth country as well. Proof of financial stability is incredibly important when adopting.
Here are some resources that you might be asked to provide:
- W-2 Form
- Bank statements
- Health care insurance for the new child
- Investment portfolio, retirement plans, financial records, etc.
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.
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.
You might share your background, your childhood and family experiences, your successes and failures, your outlook on life, your hobbies and 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.
Most adoption agencies require several references apart from family members. On average, you’d be required to list three to four people who will more than likely be asked to write a letter of recommendation. Choose from a diverse range of people you know.