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When I first started the process, I wish I would have been given a check list. I wanted a clear path of what I needed to do, and I’ll admit I’m a check list girl. I love my lists and my post-its. I will say as well that starting the process you feel like you have no control (because you really don’t). This list allowed me to focus on these tasks and feel some semblance of control.

*Keep receipts of all your costs and an expense work sheet in word/excel.

Pick and find an agency to work with or lawyer (for independent adoption) 

Tip: do your research and make sure you like/trust your case manager or lawyer

We can assist you on your search

Questions to ask:

  • How many families do they match in a year?

  • What is there policy if the match fails on return of money paid?

  • How many failed matches have you had?

  • What’s your background, why do you work or own an adoption agency/lawyer?

  • What are your requirements for the home study?

*Most couples in the U.S. are matched with in a year

(after home study is complete), majority within two years.

*think about what child you are open to (its much easier to say you are open to drug 

exposure, older child, special needs child in the home study and then decide what 

scenario you want to present to when the time comes.

A GREAT RESOURCE of more questions can be found here.

"How To Choose An Ethical Adoption Agency" by Stacey Stark

Complete the home study

Average according to is $1000-$3,000

  • This consists of a lot of paperwork

  • 18 hours of parenting classes

  • Fingerprinting (be persistent and go to a police station that has a machine instead of ink) We used: Field Print to schedule and get fingerprinted

  • Tax records

  • References (it might be nice to get a couple letters of recommendation too-you can use these in your scholarship applications and parts could be used in your profile).

  • Autobiography

  • Medical physical form from your doctor

  • Proof of employment, insurance (home and vehicle), proof of shots for your pets, marriage, etc.

  • Interviews together, separately, and home inspection

Average couple takes 6 months to complete this (but it can be done in way less time)​

Start applying for any and every grant or scholarship you qualify for and start fundraising if you plan to do so.

Please check out our Financing Page too. 

Create your profile. Please see our Profile Assistance page.

Get the room ready (if you want) I found getting the room ready therapeutic and helpful. I know some don’t (uncomfortable or don’t want to jinx things). It gave me hope that someday this would happen, and you can get a call at any time (it’s nice to be prepared).


Check out our additional outreach page or self matching and other suggestions. 

Start presenting Please see our Presenting Page.

Please also check out our Red Flags page.

Get “the call” and be matched. If an open adoption, you may start talking to the birth mom and working with her agency to finalize the match paperwork and start paying fees. You will make several payments as the due date approaches. You may be asked to go to an ultrasound or meet the expecting mom before baby is born. You will also find a lawyer. If the adoption is out of state, the agency should be able to help you find an out of state lawyer.

Also, READ through all the forms you are signing with the agency/lawyer and make sure you understand them (it’s ok to ask questions and each agency may have its own policies you should be aware of.) Check our our Match page too.

Average total cost of adoption is around $40,000 according to American Adoptions.


Please check out our pinterest page for ideas:

Announce to family and friends (if you are comfortable doing that). Some couples decide not to share until the adoption is finalized. We couldn’t do that and even if the match failed we wanted our family and friends to share in our joy (and sorrow if it happened). We made fortune cookies (actually easier than you think via YouTube video) to tell our family and friends in a fun way. Who says adoption can’t be fun?


Have a baby shower if you want or wait and have a sprinkle afterwards (or multiple) and celebrate! If open adoption work on a good relationship with the birth mom and make sure you are supporting her. We had a friend’s celebration too which was a lot of fun.


Count down/pack/prepare. Get those final baby items. Pack if you are needing to travel/go out of state/country. Book your flights/hotel etc. Do research about where you are going.

Get a Pediatrician and Daycare lined up-Get a pediatrician to discuss concerns about and comfortable with-then have that information to be able to provide hospital where your baby is born. You will need this information once at the hospital to provide them at birth (so medical records can be transferred.

Get name on daycare lists asap.


Celebrating Adoption A nationwide program where high-end photographers donate their session fee and usually a free 8 X 10 for families who have adopted in the past 12 months. For more information, visit sign up/register for it!

Birth Enjoy and be in the moment which will be hard because you want to guard your heart in case birth mom changes her mind. Take pictures. Try not to worry or stress about things you can’t control. Please listen to this short video for the hospital. Talk to the attorney or agency about a gift for the birth family. Try to get something tangible that they/she can keep and thoughtful. Check out Etsy or our Pinterest page for more ideas.


Court hearing (make sure to get adoption decree). Your lawyer should prepare you with questions before hand and should have all your paperwork ready. Depending on the state/country you adopt from will determine when the court hearing is after birth.


Medical information transferred to current provider, if closed adoption apply for new social security card at the social security office (go online to see requirements-need form from doctor, birth certificate, and adoption decree), if open adoption be sure to get social security card, order/get birth certificate too (your lawyer should be able to assist you with this).


Adoption tax credit when doing taxes (be sure to keep records and receipts of all adoption payments). Most places will charge several hundred to do your taxes. We did turbo tax and bought the extra insurance-it recognized right away by our social security number that we adopted. The credit can be broken up in several years but total you should get about $13,000 back.


I hope this checklist helped and if I could add another to this list I would say find others who have gone through this experience. When you start to share with coworkers, friends, and family take note of people who have had experience with adoption either as a birth mother, adoptive parents, or adoptee. Also, seek our articles and local groups in the city you live in. It was so great to find some people to relate to, vent to, and to ask for guidance. I even asked coworkers, friends, and family to introduce me to strangers (who had gone through the adoption process) and I have now become close too. It was also nice to get other perspectives on the process and to have the community around, even post adoption.

Check List

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