Adoption: Where to Start?


Maybe you’ve always talked with your spouse about adoption and think now may be the time?

Maybe adoption looks like it might be the only way your family will grow?

Maybe you cry every time you talk to an adoptive mother or see a multiethnic family?

Your heart is tender, BUT now what? You know you have the desire, but the topic seems too vast to navigate. Where can you start?

Ideally, you have a close friend who has adopted and could share their experience and knowledge with you. I know, however, that not everyone always has that. So then what? Here are a few thoughts. My husband and I have adopted both internationally and domestically. We’ve been in this world since 2002 so maybe these ideas may help get you in the right direction.

1) Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page before you start anything. It is imperative that you are united before beginning. If one spouse is more zealous and carrying the load for the family, it will not go well. Adoption has unique challenges and stresses. Bitterness, frustration and anger because you aren’t united cannot be added to that.

2) Once you’re on the same page, talk and pray together about which of the following options below is right for your family.

3) Google terms: what does foster, fost-adopt, domestic adoption, international adoption mean?  Each one of these will require a unique set of documents and approvals to adopt.

4) Consider routes you might not have before like special needs adoption, down syndrome adoption, transracial (multiethnic) adoption, older child adoption or snowflake adoption.

5) Find an agency. This may be one of the most challenging parts. If you are going through a domestic adoption that could be outside of AZ, an international adoption, or a snowflake adoption, you will need a home study agency here in town as well as consulting firm or agency to match you with your child. So you will have two agencies. For foster or fost-adopt or local adoption, your home study agency will also help place your child or children in your home. Ask for several references from them so you can talk to other families that have adopted through them.

6) Put up a pool fence and make any repairs to your home that would prevent your home from being safe.

7) There is a ton of paperwork to show the state, other states, immigration and other countries (depending on your route) that you are a safe family. Starting a home study is a great first step. Begin gathering documents. Most agencies will need certified copies of things like your marriage, divorce, birth, death certificates, etc. This will save you lots of time once you know which direction you want to head.

8 ) Go to Yahoo Groups. Search the type of adoption you are seeking (e.g. reecesrainbow for special needs). You can find groups for any type of adoption.  The families on them are a plethora of knowledge and will help you avoid pitfalls or overcome challenges specific to your journey.

9) Begin researching attachment in adoption. It takes a long time to understand and learn about the unique hurts on a child’s heart from losing their first family.

10) Do not stress when the first social worker comes to your home. Remember that social workers want to approve you!! They want NOTHING more than to see children in need of homes in loving, safe families.

Adoption is an amazing way to provide a family for a precious child. Over the summer, I’ll be sharing more about the adoption process and being an adoptive family. If you have a specific question that I didn’t touch on here, feel free to email me at cate at scottsdalemomsblog dot com. I am simply a mom that has been through the process, but I can share my experience or point you in the direction of the right answer. 

***photo credit ***


  1. Great thoughts Cate. I especially love the idea of gathering paperwork ahead of time. Hadn’t thought of even starting that now but it would feel great to have something tangible that I could do now. P.S. You have a friend that cries every time she sees a multi-ethnic or adoptive family? I can’t even imagine it… 🙂

  2. I would also add in find an adoption attorney. I can not say enough for Rita Meiser here in Phoenix. Our experience with her was absolutely wonderful (and our birth mom would agree), and I know of many families who feel the same. Many of the domestic placements in AZ occur through adoption attorneys, versus agencies. I also highly recommend Mike Herrod. Both Mike and Rita are very experienced and ethical.

    Additionally, network! I took my marketing background and applied it to our adoption. Nobody will do a better job at getting the word out about your desire to adopt than you will! Create adoption pass along cards, flyers, put up a website, keep a blog and fill it with great SEO related to adoption, get the word out to anyone and everyone – it can be challenging to share that info, as it’s such a personal process, but people respond so positively. You never know who may have a friend, neighbor, cousin, etc that may know someone who is considering an adoption plan. Word of mouth is powerful in the world of adoption.

    Our local domestic newborn open adoption happened within one year, start to finish. It can be done, and it doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you have to really put yourself out there. 🙂

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