I recently had a commenter ask me how to get started on the adoption process. So, here's the skinny:
1. The first thing you need to do is decide if you want to adopt domestically (e.g. in the United States, if you live there) or internationally (e.g. from a country you do not live in). There are many factors that go into making this decision. For example, you may have an affinity or heart for a certain part of the world, if so, that may inform your decision. Or you may want to adopt from the place(s) where there orphan crisis is worst (or not). Some places cost just a little bit more than others while some take a little more time than others. Ironically, domestic adoption often takes longer than international. Also, you must be a certain age to adopt from some countries. Other places require that you be married for a specific amount of time. Thus, you must find out where you are eligble to adopt from (typically, if you are over 30 you can adopt from anywhere; I think China's age requirement is right around 30). Therefore, your eligbility and your desires must come together to inform your choice. Personally, my wife has always had a heart for Africa and lately, our eays have increasingly been open to the situation there. In a word, that's how we made our choice. What I did was check out about six websites before we absolutely made our decision; there I read about each country, its situation and its requirements. Here are some of those sites:
2. After you've decided if you want to adopt domestically or internationally, you must choose an Adoption Agency. This decision of ours was informed by both research, the quickness with which the organizations replied to us and our gut feelings. I did a BBB (Better Business Bureau) search on the six adoption agencies we looked at. CWA (Christian World Adoption) had the best track record. They also replied the quickest (e.g. by sending materials via snail-mail, answering questions by email and by phone). In the end, we felt that they were the best choice.
3. After we made our decision about adopting internationally and which Adoption Agency we would go through, we began the application process. This required submitting a small packet of signed papers and a partial payment. Within a week's time, we actually became "official" clients of CWA.
4. While we were waiting to become "official" clients for CWA, we had started what is known as the Home Study process. Basically, the phrase is self explanatory: You hire a social worker (aka "Case Worker") who looks over your physical home and then the emotional, financial and spiritual aspects of your home life. You hire a social worker through an accredited Home Study Agency. We used the same method for choosing a Home Study Agency that we used for deciding the Adoption Agency (research, response time, gut feeling). We intially looked at about 10 agencies and in a day's time, whittled it down to one.
5. Now that you chose where you're going to adopt from, what Adoption Agency (aka Placing Agency) and Home Study Agency you will go through, you will begin the coursework and paperwork processes. Our Adoption Agency required 10 hours of coursework/meetings to be completed and our Home Study Agency required 24 hours of coursework plus 2 home study meetings to take place. This is a great learning process!
6. Once you have completed the courswork you will begin the Dossier process. The Dossier is the paperwork that will be sent to the country which you are adopting from, so, this needs to be thorough. Currently, completing our Dossier along with contacting CIS (Custom Immigration Services - to apply to bring the child home) is where we are at in the process. Once these two steps are completed, we will send in the materials and wait for our referral (e.g. where the adoption agency refers a specific child/children to you). After that, we have to go to court one time and then we will go pick our child up.
In sum, that's the process. It may be a little different depending on which agency you go through. What I have described above has to do with international adoption, which is totally different from domestic adoption. So, much of what I said, you will not find in the domestic process. If anyone has any questions, I am always willing to answer them. Please, if you need any help, contact me and let me know. I'd be more than willing to point you in the right direction. Blessings and I hope that those of you thinking about adoption will follow through.