If you've never adopted before, it can be hard to know where to start. Because the process can seem so overwhelming, especially those who aren't as experienced with the adoption process as others, it's important to start with the basics and work your way up from there. Before you can even begin the process, you must first understand how the process works and what you need, want, and expect from this experience. This includes knowing the type of adoption you want, how to interact with biological parents and adoption professionals, and the adoption eligibility requirements.
This section is the perfect place to start. Throughout these pages, you'll learn who can adopt and if you're eligible. If you're choosing domestic adoption--meaning within the United States--it's important to know that each state has different laws, guidelines, and requirements for adoption eligibility. If you're going to adopt a child from a different state than your own, you will have to satisfy both states' requirements and expectations.
If you choose international adoption--meaning outside the United States--each country has very specific guidelines and requirements for adoptive parents, including age limits, years of being married, ethnicity and religion, and even income. It all comes down to proper, extensive research, no matter what you decide. Because of the emotional, mental, and financial toll adoption can bring, make sure you know the country's requirements before you begin. It can save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
In order to fully understand the adoption process, you must first learn the common and accepted words and terms. This will not only give you a better understanding during legal adoption proceedings, but it help you better navigate social interactions within the adoption community. Because adoption can be such an emotional and sensitive topic, it will only benefit you and your journey to know which terms are acceptable and which ones are offensive to any given side of the adoption triad. Sensitivity and empathetic awareness are two essential traits to any productive, effective, and life-long adoption relationship.
After all is said and done, you'll need to decide if adoption is really right for you. It's not for everyone, and that doesn't make you a bad person. If you decide that it's not for you, that's perfectly fine. You can then move forward with confidence knowing you've explored your options and you made an intelligent, informed decision. However, if you feel adoption is still a viable option for your life and your family, spend a little time taking the "Are You Ready?" assessment. This will give you a little more insight into your own needs and expectations for adoption. Once you're aware of that, you can then proceed with the adoption process in confidence.