Thursday, November 1, 2018


It is one of the highlights of my profession to help singles and couples adopt children in the U.S. and overseas. From newborn infants to children as old as 17 years of age, adoptions are taking place daily. 

It is important to give thought to the building or enlarging of your family through adoption. After deciding on the age of the child you are seeking to adopt, determine how much background information will make you comfortable and whether you can travel to meet your child. The answers to these simple questions will help to shape your adoption journey.

In the United States, children are adopted privately or through the foster care system.

A private adoption, sometimes called an independent or agency adoption, involves the prospective adoptive parent being an active participant in the adoption process. The majority of children adopted through this type of option are newborn. You choose an attorney or adoption agency to work with. They will handle various parts of the legal process and, depending on the state you reside in, may help to locate a birth situation or child for you. In other situations, you will actively seek a birth parent through advertising, Internet postings and word-of-mouth networking. You can do this yourself or hire an adoption consultant to do the outreach campaign for you. Prior to starting the adoption process, you will need to complete an Adoption Homestudy in your home state, which consists of a social worker visiting your home and submission of documents including child abuse and criminal clearances.

Children, from newborn through 17 years of age, can be adopted through the foster care system.  You start by contacting your local social service agency.  They typically invite you to an orientation meeting and if you wish to proceed will complete your Adoption Homestudy, provide adoptive parent training and match you with a child. You may also be able to adopt a child in foster care from another state. After an initial adjustment period, decisions are made about proceeding with the adoption. 

Whichever option you choose, private or foster care, you will work with an attorney and/or agency to complete the legal finalization of the adoption. You will complete a series of visits with your local social worker (Post Placement Supervisory Visits) and a finalization hearing will take place either in your home state or where the child was born.

While the numbers of children and countries open for adoption change periodically, there are children being adopted overseas every day.

International adoption has four components. You need to work with an accredited or approved agency or individual (Adoption Service Provider) who has a program in the country from which you want to adopt, complete an agency Adoption Homestudy, apply through U.S. immigration (USCIS), and comply with the adoption process in the country from which you are adopting.

Once you have immigration approval as an adoptive parent, your agency will start the process to match you with a child overseas. Each country has its own rules and regulations for adoption, its own guidelines for the type and ages of children available for international adoption, and its own timeline for referrals and the actual in-country adoption process.

Your agency will discuss with you the age and background of children available to you. If there are age restrictions based on your age, your agency will inform you of the age of a child you are eligible to adopt. Once there is a referral for you, you will get the background and current condition of the child. You will have an opportunity to have the medical and social background reviewed by medical experts in the United States before making a decision about moving forward. The next step will be to travel overseas to meet the child. If you decide to pursue the adoption, the legal component of the process starts. You may be able to complete the adoption while there, or you may return home (for several weeks or months), traveling back at a later date to complete the legal part of the adoption and bring your child home. In some instances, you will come back to the U.S. without a final adoption and need help from a local attorney to complete the adoption in your home state. If the adoption is finalized in the U.S, it is critical to remember to apply for citizenship for your child.

You have now started or enlarged your family through adoption. You are adjusting to parenting and, perhaps, the complexities of a multicultural family. Reach out to an adoptive family group (in person or online) so you and your child have a network of peers and families formed through adoption.

Welcoming a child into the new family may include a welcoming celebration. The inclusion of family, friends and community members helps the adoptive family feel they are among friends and begins the child’s journey into their community.

Adoptive families are thriving in the United States. Newborns and older children are finding permanent homes with parents who are living their dreams. As I counsel singles and couples on adoption options, conduct adoption homestudies and provide practical guidance on living as an adoption family, I am continually answering questions and sharing in the challenges and joys adoptive parenting can bring. Being prepared for the adoption process, as well as knowing how your family, friends and community can support you and your child will make your journey to parenthood smoother.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and is currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen throughout the Internet, including her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET  She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001.  You can reach her directly at EMAIL