Finding Adoptive Parents
How are Adoptive Families Screened?
We understand the idea of allowing your baby to be raised by people you don’t know can be scary. But, hopefully, by the time you place your child into the arms of his or her parents, you won’t be strangers at all. Countless women who have placed a child for adoption have formed lifelong friendships with their child’s parents.
Before they can be approved to adopt a child, hopeful adoptive parents must meet high standards and complete extensive adoption screening processes. This is why it’s important for you to select a pre-screened and waiting adoptive family through a licensed adoption agency. Adoption agencies offer the highest level of adoption screening, so you know with complete certainty that the parents you choose are safe and ready to raise your child. Additionally, adoption agencies help foster the lifelong relationship between birth and adoptive families — coordinating communication, encouraging healthy and lasting bonds and helping you get to know one another.
We understand that the happiness and safety of your child are your highest concerns right now. It’s our first priority, too. Here are some of the important adoption screening methods that the adoptive family you choose will need to undergo:
1. Adoption Home Studies
Did you know each state actually has its own set of legal adoption requirements that hopeful adoptive parents must meet? While these requirements are pretty basic, it checks a few boxes. In order to adopt, the adoptive parents must often be at least 21 years old, have a completed home study and some other common-sense requirements.
But, state-mandated requirements alone aren’t enough to ensure that your baby will be placed into an amazing family. They need to be combined with additional adoption screening processes. Let’s start with the first, and maybe most important, screening process: The adoption home study.
What is a home study, and how does it ensure the safety of your baby?
A home study is made up of three parts:
- In-home visits
The home study process is conducted by a state-licensed social worker, who is there to make sure that the family is 100% physically, emotionally, mentally and financially ready to raise your child.
The documentation that the family submits includes:
- Criminal and child abuse background checks at both the state and federal levels.
- Paperwork like financial documents, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc.
- Health and psychological evaluations by licensed professionals.
- Adoption reference letters from friends, family members and coworkers who vouch that these people would make good parents.
- Personal autobiographical statements from each parent, detailing why they want to adopt.
- And more.
Next, the social worker visits the family’s home in person. She tours the house to make sure that the home is a safe, loving and prepared environment for a baby. She checks for baby-proofing and safety measures like working smoke detectors, electrical outlet covers and more. Then, she’ll sit down with each family member, individually and together, to get a better sense of who they are and whether they’re truly ready for adoption.
The social worker will return to visit the family in their home for post-placement visits. This happens for several months after your baby goes home with his or her parents. They will check to make sure that everyone is adjusting well, and that your child is thriving.
Does that seem like a lot? It is! It takes several months for hopeful adoptive families just to complete the home study process, not to mention all the other steps of adoption. But all of this is done for one very important reason: To protect children.
Above all, children who must be placed for adoption deserve to be in safe, happy, ready and loving homes. There are two more ways to ensure this life for your child:
2. Adoption Agency Screening
All adoptive families are required to complete (and pass) a home study. But many adoption agencies take their adoption screening processes further, to ensure that children are only placed into safe, loving, supportive and prepared homes.
- Agreeing to a minimum degree of openness in the adoption. If the birth mother requests more or less openness, that is her decision, and the adoptive parents must agree to her wishes, within reason.
- Receiving education about adopting a baby of a different race. It’s important for the adoptive parents to understand how they can support their transracially adopted child’s racial identity.
- Creating an in-depth adoption video profile. This way, pregnant women who are considering adoption can get a better idea of the kind of life a child would have with that family.
- And more.
If you pursue an “independent adoption,” or an adoption without a licensed agency, you would not have this additional level of adoption screening. So, for that extra level of protection, we strongly recommend finding a pre-screened and waiting family through an adoption agency.
3. Your Own Intuition
At the end of the day, a mother’s intuition plays an important role in adoption screening. Many women only feel truly comfortable placing their baby with a family when they have spoken with or met themselves. It’s always within your right as a prospective birth parent to get to know the adoptive family. You deserve to feel confident that this family will raise your child in a safe, loving and supportive family environment. Sometimes, the best way to do that is to see it for yourself!
Once you’ve viewed online profiles of pre-screened, waiting families and you’ve chosen the adoptive family you feel is right for your baby, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know them better. That introductory conversation typically takes place over the phone — your adoption agency will set it up and help guide everyone, so don’t be nervous. Depending on your personal comfort levels, you can also meet the family in person and continue getting to know them throughout your pregnancy by:
- Asking the parents questions.
- Talking about the kind of life you hope for your baby.
- Talking about what you’d like your post-adoption relationship to look like.
- Talking about everyday things not related to adoption, like the kind of music they like, their favorite movies and TV shows and their interests. Getting to know the family on a personal level can give you a better instinct of what your child’s life will be like as a part of this family.
Remember: While your gut instinct about a family is important, it shouldn’t be the only screening method! The only way to ensure the safety of your baby is with a home study and a licensed adoption professional. Contact an adoption agency now to ask about how they screen their waiting adoptive families, or start by browsing online adoption profiles of pre-screened and waiting adoptive parents.
Ready to get started? Contact an adoption agency now to get free information.