Adoption 101: Where to Begin?

So perhaps you’re ready to move forward. Maybe you’re thinking, Yes! My heart is ready, and my husband and I believe we should adopt. What now?

We’re filled with excitement, joy, and a few (okay, a ton of) nerves. This process is full of all the feelings (we understand), which is exactly why we’re doing this two-part series describing the basic information and steps needed. In Part 1, we discussed praying over your decision, talking about it with your spouse, asking tough questions, seeking wisdom from others who’ve adopted, and waiting on the Lord.

In Part 2, we present the next few aspects of adoption to consider, now that you are stepping forward on this path. Here we continue with more information about what you’ll need to do on your journey:

  1. Do some research. Examine the three main avenues for adoption: Domestic, international, and foster-to-adopt. Think: Overview. Don’t go overboard and Google everything. This is the time to look at the big picture, and continue to ask questions. Consider these few questions with your spouse and before jumping on the Internet and getting overwhelmed with information.

    • Are you pulled toward international, domestic, or foster-to-adopt? Why?

    • Study the different fees, travel requirements, post-adoption requirements, etc.

    • For a domestic adoption, study the differences between private adoptions vs. going through an agency (recommended).

    • Domestic adoption refers to the placement of U.S.-born infants for adoption by their birth parents, who legally consent to the adoption with an adoptive family of their choosing.

    • Foster adoption, or fost-adopt, can happen in two ways: (1) a form of adoption in which a child is placed into a home as a foster child, with the expectation that the child will become legally free and be adopted by the fostering parents. (2) Some foster children are not adopted by their foster parents. Their birth parents’ rights have been terminated, and they are legally free for adoption. A family can find out about those children through various services in their community. Remember: The primary goal of the foster care system is the safety and best interest of the child and family reunification.  Social workers work to come alongside both families during the fostering and/or foster adoption process.

    • International adoption is the adoption of a child from another country, each with its’ own laws regarding the placement of children. These children are usually adopted from orphanages and are eligible for adoption because their birth parents were unable to care for them, or are no longer living.

  2. Get organized. I suggest creating a spreadsheet to help you collect your information. Start by researching different agencies and sort the information with some basic, but important, questions:

    • What is the agency’s average total fee for the type of adoption you’re pursuing?

    • Do they provide any birth mother care/services?

    • Are they faith-based, or non-religious?

    • What is their average timeline?

    • Is there a separate application cost? (These can vary widely.)

    • What is the agency’s protocol for a disrupted adoption (aka a failed placement)?

    • Does the agency provide post adoption support?

    • For international, how many trips are required?

    • What is the average age of a placement from each particular agency?

    • Other miscellaneous info.

      This will help you to start seeing what is most important to you and which agency really aligns with your hearts. Call the agencies and meet with them if possible before any serious paperwork. This will give you a good feel for which one you can see yourselves working with best. Take note of which one(s) make you feel heard and important, not just like another random person calling. Then pray...Pray on your own, and with your spouse. Then, pray some more. He will give you wisdom.

  3. Take classes. Just like couples who take childbirth classes, adoptive couples should get educated.  It is helpful to find training classes that your agency will accept (they usually require a certain number of hours of training) so that you get credit for your time! I highly recommend a pre-adoptive course or the Waiting in Hope curriculum to grieve and prepare your heart from infertility to adoption.

    Ask your local agencies or international contact about the best place to start. Not only are they very informative, but you will meet other couples to connect with on this journey! Not to mention seeking a counselor’s perspective for several sessions can be extremely helpful as well, since the home studies and adoption agencies will ask and hope that you have resolved some of the heart issues attached to infertility, loss and not conceiving biological children.

  4. Be financially wise. Don’t shy away from the cost, because no matter what - it is worth it and God will provide. There are many options towards funding an adoption; fundraising, adoption loans, grants, organizations and MANY churches with scholarships for adopting families. Crowd-funding campaigns are a great way to raise help, awareness, and funding as you humbly allow friends and family the opportunity to support and be your community. It may be hard to remember but your willingness to allow them to engage in this effort to glorify the gospel and adopt because we have been adopted can bless them immensely. The goal is being wise and seeking God's wisdom instead of a selfish “we’d give anything” mentality.  

    There is a cost of adoption whether it is emotionally, financially or sacrificially.

    The quote below reminds us to check our heart motives.

    “Someone once told me, most people are willing to take out a car loan and think nothing of it, yet what type of investment is a car?  Per Dave Ramsey, “it’s the worst investment you can ever make” and yet I baulked at the idea of an adoption loan? An adoption loan is an investment in a tiny human’s LIFE, and we pray it is ultimately an investment in their eternity; so the real question I believe is not what is the cost of adoption, but rather, what is the cost of not adopting? - Katherine Pruitt, (read the full blog post here)

  5. Learn the different types of adoption. There are three main types: open, semi-open, and closed. The level of openness runs on a spectrum that can change over time.

    Open: The birth family and adoptive family are in close contact, directly with one another. They may communicate through phone, email and in person from time to time.

    Semi-Open: Communication between the birth family and adoptive family are usually occurs through the agency or another third party/facilitator of some kind.

    Closed: There is no communication between either family.

    Go in knowing that most domestic adoption agencies will support and suggest an open adoption. Gone are the days (mostly) when children are placed and never ever know who their birth parents are. They usually at least know their name(s) and why they were placed. The hope behind open adoption is not to co-parent but to help the child live without fear of rejection and without a sense of abandonment. The hope is that open adoption will breed honesty. In years prior, most adoptions were closed and everything was a big secret. This can lead to feelings of shame. This can be hard for many people at first, but speaking from experience, my husband and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We LOVE our daughter’s birth mama and feel honored to have her in all of our lives. The gospel and Gods love takes many different forms within the scope of adoption, all which effects all involved deeply if you allow it.

“He lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will” - Ephesians 1:5 (AMP)

“Where to Begin?” Resources:

Ready or Not

Adopted for Life

Dear Birthmother

Children of Open Adoption

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet

The Connected Child

Attaching in Adoption

The Whole Life Adoption Book

Online resources:
Legacy 685

Considering Adoption - Adoption 101

Adopt Together - Adoption 101

Empowered to Connect

Show Hope

Bethany Christian Services

Together We Rise

* Waiting in Hope Ministries can connect you to couples/families who have or are adopting, through our online community.

Hailee Davis is a long time Waiting in Hope Ministries friend as a past national + local leader.

Hailee loves to volunteer with Waiting in Hope whenever she can. She and her husband Joel live in Katy, Texas with their daughter Laney that God graciously placed with them by adoption after a 4 year journey through infertility. In what little free time she possesses, Hailee loves hand lettering, hospitality, and HGTV. How’s that for alliteration?

-Waiting in HOPE- Adoption 101: Where to Begin?