How to Start the Adoption Process


1) Educate yourself about the adoption process. Research adoption websites. Read books and magazines about adoption. Look for an adoption conference or orientation session to attend. Look for a social networking resource for adoptive family and those interested in adoption.

2) Select an agency and/or an adoption attorney. Make sure the agencies you contact are licensed in the state you reside. Make sure you understand what services will be provided by the agency and/or what services will be provided by the attorney. Do you need both an agency and an attorney? Gather information about the type of adoptions they provide, the fee structure, and the timeframe for the adoption. Get references and speak with other parents who have used the same agency and/or attorney.

3) Complete your homestudy. A homestudy can be provided by an agency social worker or an independent social worker. The homestudy consists of a series of meeting between you and the social worker. The worker will review important legal documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and personal references. You will be required to submit to background screening and child abuse clearances.

4)  Find your child. Make sure you ask all necessary questions to learn about the child and his or her family. The more information you have the better. Meet the child and birth parents for at least one or two visits.

5) Receive a Placement. The placement date is when the child comes to live in your home. The parental rights of the birth parents are terminated and you receive custody of the child following a court hearing. In Missouri, the child will be placed with you for a minimum of six months before the adoption can be finalized. During the six-month waiting period, you will be under post placement supervision by the individual or agency that provided your homestudy. The social worker will visit the child in your home to ensure that the placement is going well.

6) Finalize your Adoption. After the post placement supervision is completed, you can schedule your final adoption hearing with the court. At the hearing, the judge will finalize your adoption. Approximately one month following the final adoption, you will receive an amended birth certificate for your child, naming you as the parents and you will receive a certificate and decree of adoption.

If you have questions about moving forward with an adoption, we would love to help. Contact us at Knight & Salladay to schedule a consultation.

Tana Benner
Tana Benner is an adoption attorney with Columbia Family Law Group. Her practice is focused in the area of family law and she has particular interests in adoption and helping children and victims of domestic violence.