If you are ready to start your adoption journey here are some tips you need to read before picking your homestudy agency and starting the paper chase.
Depending on what country you are looking to adopt from and the needs you are open to, it is usually possible to go one of two ways:
- Get your homestudy and dossier sent to the country and then get matched (You will get “new” files which means you have access to the youngest, healthiest children but your wait will be 3-6 months longer)
- Find a waiting child on an agencies list and prematch (to hold the child) before getting your homestudy and dossier in. This process usually helps your adoption to go quicker (9-12 months for an adoption from China), but children on these lists are usually harder to match because they are older or have more severe medical needs.
How to Adopt – Choosing a Homestudy Agency
- How long does the process take with your agency? Is that pretty fixed, or will us getting things done quicker impact the process?
- Are your case managers full time or part time (we ended up with one that could ONLY work Saturdays which may be perfect for you, but really slowed down the process for us)
- What happens if we are dissatisfied with our case manager – is their a recourse or are we stuck?
- What “other” requirements are in place by your agency that may not be required by other agencies in the area? (for us it was a 4 hours face to face class that was no longer a state requirement, but they had chosen to keep it…. but they only offered it 4x a year which slowed down the process tremendously. Plus, the training was only offered in a remote town 3 hours away from our metro area)
- What sets your agency apart from other agencies?
- Take some time to google the agency to find out what others have to say about them, read reviews on forums, etc. Please remember that usually people only bother to post if they have a problem and no company is perfect. But you may see a pattern that will steer you one way or another.
- How many meetings are required and what will you go through at each meeting? This can vary from 1-5 depending on agency!
- Try to pick an agency that is similar in personality. Are they slow and steady, really taking the 3 months for every case study? Are they willing (and eager) to help you get through as quickly as possible if you are doing your part and available?
#1 – Be ready for your first set of fees:
- Adoption Agency application fee $500 (fee can vary)
- 1st Agency fee with submitted contract (fee and timeline can vary)
- Homestudy Fee (depending on state/agency) $2000
- USCIS Immigration Fee $774+
- Misc Fees for fingerprinting, adoption education
#2 – Complete Homestudy
#3 – i800 Immigration Form
#4 – Dossier (aka Paper Chase)
- Application Letter
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage License
- Police Clearance Letter for each parent
- Medical Forms
- Financial Statement
- Employment Verification Letters for each parent
- 6-8 photos of family life
- 2 passport photographs of each parent
- copy of passport (make sure it wont expire soon!!)
Ours were particularly crazy as I was born in one state to get them authenticated & LA Chinese consulate verified, my hubby was born in another state that required his state verified and Chicago Chinese Consulate verified, husbands employer was in yet another state with New York Chinese consulate verification, and my employment letter was in a final state requiring that state verification and Texas Chinese consulate verification. YIKES! It was crazy and we paid hundreds of dollar in Fedex and couriers. It’s just part of the process.
#5 – Send Documents to Agency
- Read up on adoption
- Clean things in your house that you keep putting off
- Bond with your other children so those relationships are extra strong
- Talk to others on the same journey – for me the Facebook groups for others in the same stage as us were indispensable! You could compare timelines, ask questions, and encourage each other along the way!
- If you’re like me…. you may want to search listings like Rainbow Kids to see what files are out there to know what to expect when you do get a file. It’s all about realistic expectations and knowing what to expect.