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What Are the Requirements to Adopt ?


Adopting a child entails a lot of preparation and paperwork. If you’re just decided to adopt, you may be wondering what steps you need to take in order to be ready to welcome a child into your home. Gathering the appropriate documents ahead of time will help make the process smoother and less stressful. Here are the typical requirements for an adoption.

What is required for a domestic adoption?
Although agency and state requirements vary, you can usually expect to provide and complete the following for a domestic newborn adoption:

  • A preliminary and formal application, along with fees

  • A home study, which includes 3-4 visits in your home with a licensed social worker

  • Financial documents, including bank statements, credit card statements, income tax returns, pay stubs, and mortgage and loan balances

  • A list of assets and liabilities, including monthly payments for your house, cars, utilities, groceries, gas and entertainment, as well as the value of your home, cars and other assets

  • Letters from your employers with employment and salary verification, health insurance coverage info and other benefit details

  • Reference letters from friends, family and co-workers who can attest to your character and ability to parent a child

  • Complete physicals and blood tests from your family doctor, including tests for HIV, Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, blood pressure, hearing and vision

  • Copies of your birth certificates, driver's licenses, social security cards and marriage license, if applicable

  • Detailed autobiographies about your lives, including your childhood experiences and upbringing, your relationships with your extended family, your marriage, philosophy on discipline, and attitudes regarding adoption and how you plan to explain it to your child

  • Forms for credit and criminal background checks, as well as certificates of identity

  • What is required for an international adoption?
    The requirements in the U.S. for adopting internationally vary depending on which country and program you choose. In general, you will need the same documents as a domestic adoption, plus some additional paperwork. You must apply with the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), to get approval to bring an adopted child into the U.S. You’ll need to complete form I-171H and also request two sets of fingerprint cards for each person.

    The majority of international adoptions require a Dossier, which is a collection of documents that are translated, notarized and contain seals from your county, state and the U.S. government. Some of these documents are the same as the ones required by the USCIS and your home study. For a complete list of requirements, check with the adoption agencies you’re considering.

    Remember, although this list may seem a bit overwhelming at first, your adoption agency or attorney will help you every step of the way. They will be available to answer any questions you have and will encourage and support you throughout the process. With a little time and patience you will be well on your way to bringing home your child!


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    Content copyright © 2014 by Deanna Kahler. All rights reserved.
    This content was written by Deanna Kahler. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Deanna Kahler for details.

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