When starting the adoption process, you have four options. You can adopt a child from the U.S. foster care system — which is what the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is all about — or adopt an infant in the U.S., adopt a child from another country, or adopt a stepchild. Read on to learn more about what each type entails.
1. ADOPTING A CHILD FROM THE U.S. FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
Children waiting in the foster care system vary in age, from infants to young adults. The average age of a waiting child is 8, and some have brothers or sisters they should stay together with. The majority are healthy children who simply need and deserve loving and supportive adults in their lives.Some children have medical challenges, but these disabilities or conditions are often treatable. It is important to understand that some medical and emotional disabilities are not easily corrected. But support and resources are available to help. Begin by contacting your state’s public agency or another adoption effort, like Wendy’s Wonderful Kids — a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. This program places adoption professionals in agencies across the nation to implement aggressive, child-focused recruitment targeted exclusively on moving children from foster care into adoptive families. For more information, refer to our supplemental agency listings included in this guide, call 1-800-ASK-DTFA, or visit wendyswonderfulkids.org.
2. ADOPTING AN INFANT IN THE UNITED STATES
If you would like to adopt a baby, contact your state’s public agency, a licensed private agency, or an attorney. A good place to start is the phone book, under “Adoption Organizations,” or online. To connect with an adoption attorney, contact your local bar association, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 800-394-3366 and online at childwelfare.gov.
3. ADOPTING A CHILD FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY
Hundreds of thousands of children from around the world who are orphaned need families. Last year, nearly 9,000 children were adopted from other countries. Rules governing international adoptions can change quickly and can be complicated. If you are interested in adopting a child from another country, it is important to work with an experienced and ethical agency, group, or individual.If you pursue an intercountry adoption, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service requires that you complete a homestudy. In most cases, the adoption agency or person helping you can assist in completing the homestudy and help you find a child who needs a family.
- U.S. Department of State at adoption.state.gov
- The Joint Council on International Children’s Services at 703-535-8045 or jointcouncil.org
4. ADOPTING A STEPCHILD
To learn about the requirements for stepparent adoption, consult an adoption attorney or contact the court in your state or county that handles adoption. You may wish to refer to the Stepparent Adoption Fact Sheet for Families on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website, childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_step.pdf.