Three Ways to Adopt a Child

Learn about domestic infant, international and foster care adoption. 

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DOMESTIC INFANT ADOPTION

What it is:

Families work with an agency or attorney to adopt a baby whose parent(s) feel adoption is the best plan for their child. Families introduce themselves through letters and photos, and birth mothers (and sometimes birth fathers) choose the adoptive family they place their child with. The adoptive family will likely be asked to cover all of the legal fees associated with the adoption as well as any medical costs associated with the mother’s pregnancy. The adoptive family and birth family work together to determine the level of openness they will have as the child grows.

Who is Eligible?

Adoptive family eligibility varies from state to state. In general, adoptive families must demonstrate income adequate to support a family, have a secure and stable family life and meet state-mandated licensing standards. Eligibility is mostly determined by the birth mother, who may choose a family based on their geographic location, religion, marriage status, physical traits, careers, lifestyle, family size and any other criteria important to her. Single applicants may apply.

How Long Does it Take:

Timeframes can vary greatly — from four weeks to more than a year — depending on how long it takes for you to be chosen by a birth mother to parent her child, the involvement of the birth father and other family members, the length of her pregnancy and other factors.

Cost:

Approximately $25-35k

Pros:

You are chosen by a birth mother who feels you’re the best family for her child.

Typically, you have good medical histories of both the child and birth mother.

Your child and family can have an ongoing relationship with the child’s birth family, which tends to be the most emotionally and socially healthy option for an adopted child.

Things to Consider:

Because you will wait until a birth mother selects your family to parent her child, there is no set timeframe for your adoption process to begin.

Birth parents can change their mind and choose to parent at any time during the pregnancy and many of the fees are not refundable.

does Holt have this program?:

In Illinois, for Illinois residents only.

Click here to learn more about domestic adoption through Holt-Sunny Ridge in Illinois!

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FOSTER CARE ADOPTION

What it is:

To adopt through the U.S. foster care system, families complete the homestudy process and parent training in their state of residence. Children awaiting adoption can be any age, though children older than 5 and sibling groups wait longest for families. Most children have diverse social and ethnic backgrounds and many have experienced abuse or neglect. States may use a committee of child welfare professionals to decide which family is best able to meet the needs of the particular child, or the child’s social worker may select the most appropriate family.

Who is Eligible?

Foster care adoption programs have the most open eligibility of any type of adoption. Parents must be at least 21 at the time of application. Applicants can be single or married. There is no minimum length of marriage requirement, but couples must demonstrate stability.

How Long Does it Take:

Timeframes vary depending on the profile of child you are open to adopting. In general, the entire process will take 1-3 years. Working with a private agency like Holt can speed up the process significantly.

Cost:

Through the state: Free! Working with a private agency for additional advocacy and more efficient homestudy process: $2,800-$5,000, often partially refundable.

Pros:

Low cost and broad parent eligibility.

Typically, you have good information about a child’s needs, medical background and social development.

Children may still have contact with their birth families, which is often the most emotionally and socially healthy option for an adopted child.

Things to Consider:

Wait times to receive homestudy services can be staggering if you choose to go through the state (non-agency) process.

Your family may not be chosen to parent a child whose profile you are open to — also affecting your wait time.

As many of the children in foster care have experienced neglect or abuse, you will need to be prepared to parent a child who has experienced trauma.

does Holt have this program?:

In Oregon, for Oregon residents only.

Click here to learn more about adopting from foster care through Holt!

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INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

What it is:

Families adopt a child who has already been legally cleared for adoption in another country. The typical profile of child varies depending on the country you are adopting from, but on average, most boys and girls are between 2-3 years old at the time they arrive home. Most families request to adopt girls, so boys often wait longer to find a family. In 2015, 75 percent of children placed through Holt had some special needs, whether minor and correctable — considered healthy in the U.S. — or more moderate. Many older children, as well as children with more involved special needs, urgently need families.

Who is Eligible?

Every country sets their own parent eligibility guidelines, and it varies greatly from country to country based on the needs of children. Most parents who adopt are between 25-50 years old. Some countries, like China, allow single women to apply. Most countries have some marriage and income requirements. 

How Long Does it Take:

Although the time it takes to adopt varies by country, on average, the process from application to traveling home takes 18-36 months. Some smaller pilot programs may take a bit longer. However, in some instances, the process may be expedited in less than a year. Holt’s adoption timeframes tend to be stable and predictable from program to program.

Cost:

Although fees vary by country program, you can expect to pay between $25,000-50,000 total, which includes everything from travel to document prep, parent education and more. Due dates for fees are spread throughout the entire adoption process, and financial aid is available.

Pros:

Eligibility, timeframes to adopt and fees are all well established, resulting in fewer unknowns and a more predictable process.

Children available for adoption have been legally cleared for adoption, so once you are matched with a child, there are few instances where that adoption won’t be completed.

Things to Consider:

Sometimes, there is no information about a child’s birth history or family.

Children placed for international adoption have endured the trauma of losing both their family and their culture. Parents must be committed to receiving ongoing education to ensure they can meet their child’s needs.

During an international adoption, families are usually required to travel once or sometimes twice to finalize their adoption. While this is an amazing chance to learn about your child’s culture, the cost can be high and usually accounts for about one-third of the total cost of an international adoption.

does Holt have this program?:

In all 50 states!

Click here to learn more about Holt’s international adoption programs!

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