First, I will preface this with a disclaimer that different types of adoption have different requirements. In addition, you may find that different states may have different requirements and you may even find differences between agencies.
But I'll be happy to share the path we took.
First, we planned on adopting from the United States. We weren't sure if we were going to adopt a waiting child/children from foster care or adopt an infant. Waiting children from foster care are children that have had their parent's rights terminated by the state for various reasons. Typically waiting children in the US are toddler age or above and may have special needs (emotional, physical, mental, educational, etc.) Sadly, it is harder to place sibling groups and minority children wait longer.
At the beginning of our journey, I called around to find out which agencies in my area are licensed to do homestudies, what their current wait times were looking like and how much they charged. I called several agencies and ended up going with the worker that was easiest to talk to on the phone. Sounds strange but that was our deciding factor after a lot of prayer. We set up our first appointment and had her mail us a packet so we could get started on the paperwork.
At our first meeting with our social worker, we went over the various types of adoption and discussed which adoption path we thought we were going to take. She went over the risks and benefits of each kind of adoption, as well as the price ranges, typical wait times, etc. She understood that we were open to children 0-8 years old, typical or special needs, any race, either gender. We went over the forms that we needed to fill out and the papers we needed to gather.
That very afternoon we started what is commonly referred to as The Paperchase. We gathered previous years tax forms, proof of health and life insurance, physicals for every family member, copies of paystubs, a budget form, a list of debts and assets, birth certificates, fingerprinting, a background check, a CPS case file check in all states we lived in during our adult life, my divorce decree, our marriage license, a plan for our children if we were to die, fill out a family history/social history form, provide names and addresses for referral letter requests to be sent, etc. We gathered them all before our next appointment.
We also each had to write an autobiography before our next appointment. This part was tough for me because I have a very strained relationship with my family and my childhood was less than stellar. But I wrote it honestly and answered the questions that were asked of me.
Paperchasing was easy for me. I'm a box checker. And conveniently they provided me with a checklist of forms to turn in. *grin* It gave me something to do and I could visably see our progress.
Our agency called our next appointment, the interviewing appointment. The social worker spoke with Brandon separately and then me. And then both of us together. I bawled through my interview and wondered if I was even able to do this, given my crazy family life. Our social worker was very nice and explained that they weren't looking for perfect people, they were looking for people that had a heart for children. And if the person had trials in their life they were looking to see that they were successfully coping and had a support system in place. That was reassuring. She also didn't hold my tears against me. :)
The last appointment was at our home. To be perfectly honest I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. At one point Brandon told me if I washed the floors on my hands and knees one more time I was going to scrub the finish off of them. *blush* I dusted, I organized the food in my cabinets by type and made sure all the labels were facing forward, I cleaned closets, we rearranged furniture, etc. I basically was a nesting nut. Turns out, none of that is needed she was looking for a safe place for children and adequate space. And yes, our social worker assured us that it was normal to be worried about it and clean ourselves into a frenzy. Based on our home size, we decided that our homestudy was going to say that we could accept placement of up to two children. We also talked about the neighborhood, the area activities that we participate in, etc.
The next part was the hardest for me. Waiting for all the paperwork to come back, the social worker to write it up and have her supervisor sign off. I remember getting the call telling us that our homestudy was complete and then she asked if she wanted her to mail it or if we wanted to come pick it up. I couldn't wait to see it, so I said I'd be there. I've never gotten shoes on 2 kids so fast before in my life.
It was kind of weird to read about our family. LOL But I saw the glorious words:
Approved to accept placement and adopt up to two children, 0-8 years old, either gender, any race, typical or special needs.
And then came what we thought was going to be REALLY hard part... waiting for a match and placement.....