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Adopting a Child

Updated on September 20, 2012

My mother and I

So you want to adopt a child?


  1. To take into one's family through legal means and raise as one's own child.
  2. To take up and make one's own: adopt a new idea.

Adoption represents a wealth of paradoxes such as benevolence and desire, happiness and sorrow, confusion and clarity. For those who choose to adopt for any reason, there are certain things that should be known about the process.

I was adopted from South Korea when I was an infant. I was always fascinated by the subject of adoption and now is my chance to, as an adopted child myself, illuminate upon the subject for anyone wishing to know more about adoption.

The Adoption Process

The adoption process, in basic terms, is as follows:

1. Choose the type of adoption (domestic or international. There are also open and closed adoptions, for former involving continual contact with the birthmother and the latter involving little or no acknowledgement of the birthmother)

2. Select an agency or facilitator (like Alliance for Children or the Christian International Adoption Agency)

3. Complete a home study

An adoption home study is a profile of the potential adoptive family that includes anyone living in the home. The profile presents information on your relationship, your family interactions, your childhood and life experiences, your employment, and your financial well-being.

4. Wait for a placement

5. Finalize the adoption


The Adoption Process (as told by an adoptive mother)

According to my mother, the adoption process is lengthy and costly, but definitely worth the effort and the time.

Note that this took place 18 years ago, so costs and other details may vary. For the most part the process is the same, though. It also depends on the agency, too; my parents adopted through Holt.

There was a lot of paperwork that had to be done; many people hire attorneys to help complete it but my mother did it all by herself. My mom said, "The paperwork was never-ending." My parents had to had insurance verified; their health evaluated; a family profile (self-study); contact my doctor and have him fill out forms; give directions and a map to reach their home; give 5-6 references (not family members, for credibility reasons); placement agreement; statement of adoption and affadavit of support; a visa petition; and other things. Once the first round of paperwork was submitted my parents had to wait 9 months for the agency to contact them.

Home study involved a social services worker (Heidi) coming to my parent's home and doing pre-home study (verifying information in the paperwork). After I was received into my new home, she was required to visit about a couple more times to check up and make sure things were going well.

From the beginning of the paperwork to the moment I came home the process was a year and a half.

The cost for my parents $4,687for the flight from Korea to here, the visa petition, and Holt's services. My parents adopted my brother 2 years later, though, and it costed them $2,000 more. Since a lot of the paperwork was submitted by my parents for me, it was easier the second time, however, Also, adopting more than one at a time is cheaper. Today, some countries require for prospective parents to actually live in the country for around 6 months, like China and Russia, depending on the agency.

Emotionally my mom said it was difficult "waiting for things in the mailbox, for phone calls," etc. But it was definitely worth it to hear she had a little girl.


Holt International answers adoption questions

1. What countries does Holt have inter-country adoption programs in?

Bulgaria, China, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Korea, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Holt has a domestic program for Oregon residents. Be sure to check the details on each of the overseas programs, including the requirements, travel information, and details on the age range of children available by country.

2. How long will it take to adopt a child?

From the time you submit your formal application until you are united with your child usually ranges from 10-22 months, and is dependent on the country you adopt from.

3. What are the costs?

Fees vary by country, however, most Holt adoptions range from $15,000 to $20,000 including the home study. This estimate includes most expenses except travel. Having your child escorted to you costs between $1,800 and $4,100. If you travel to bring your child home, we can estimate your travel costs at the time you apply.

4. Are there income requirements for applicants?

Holt complies with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) guidelines for income for international adoption, or our overseas requirements, whichever is greater. Currently, CIS requires a family's earned income be 125% of the poverty guidelines. Poverty guidelines vary per state, and per family size, ranging from $15,612 to $39,462 according to 2004 figures.

5. What if I move to another state during the adoption process?

Contact us immediately when you decide to move. Where you are in your process will determine what you will need to do to meet state and CIS requirements.

6. What if I get pregnant during the adoption process?

At least one year should separate the arrival of children into the family. We believe it is very important to allow time to adjust after the addition of each child or children. After this period of adjustment, a family may consider adoption once again.

  • Pregnancy will result in the termination of your adoption process even if you have been assigned a child.
  • Holt does not place unrelated children with one family at the same time.

7. I'm not sure which country I'd like to adopt from.

You don't have to choose a country in order to start the process. You are not required to make a final decision until your social worker is ready to write your home study.

Father registry for adopting

From the State of Wyoming Department of Family Services  (
From the State of Wyoming Department of Family Services (

Same-sex couples and adoption

The average wait for gay and lesbian couples in fiscal year 2003-2004 was 12 months, compared to an all-client average of 9 months. The previous year, gay and lesbian couples waited an average 13 months, compared to an all-client average of 10.5 months. (From

Within the United States, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Washington state, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C. allow adoption by same-sex couples. Florida is the only state that completely prohibits adoption by same-sex couples. Mississippi, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Utah all make adoption by same-sex couples virtually impossible by only allowing married couples to adopt. Critics of such restrictive policies also point out that in many of the states that have bans on adoption by same-sex couples, these same couples are still able to act as foster parents. (From


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    • profile image

      melissa velarde 5 years ago

      im looking for a little boy.

    • instantlyfamily profile image

      instantlyfamily 7 years ago

      This article is well written and informative. Well done!

    • Annabellea Design profile image

      Annabellea Design 7 years ago

      What a wonderful article!

      Thanks for sharing your story!

    • sambaran08 profile image

      sambaran08 7 years ago from India

      nice blog,visit my blog at

      and follow me

    • profile image

      7ena 7 years ago

      what is the 3 main idea for causes of adopting children?

    • west40 profile image

      west40 7 years ago from Canandaigua, NY

      I adopted a daughter 21 years ago from South Korea and she is the apple of my eye. I wouldn't change a thing.

    • profile image

      kennethyou 7 years ago

      Even though i think i want to adopt a child, i don't think I'm prepared mentally to face all the challenges ahead of me.