Talk about fast! By comparison, it took us nearly 8 months to get a court date to finalize Forest's adoption. In case you're not familiar with the adoption process, it goes basically like this - at least for domestic agency adoptions -
1) Get Certified by the State to Adopt
- This involves:
- A lot of paperwork, backgrounds checks, doctor's physicals, financial documentation, 3 letters of recommendation, education classes, in-home visits from a caseworker, very intrusive questions into your personal life, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting.
2) The Matching Game
- The agency shows your profile (which you've created) to interested birth mothers and you wait for a birth mother to choose you to parent her child. If there's enough advance notice, you can often spend time getting to know each other through visits and/or phone calls.
- Once you're matched with a birth mother, you may or may not have to pay some of the adoption fees at this point depending on your agency. And you also wait until the baby is born, and hopefully are continuing to get to know your birth mother.
4) Birth and Placement
- When the happy day comes and your baby is born, you rush to wherever you need to to be with that sweet baby and birth mother. It may be in your state or in another state, In our case both times it was out of state. So, we jumped on an airplane as fast as we could.
- After a specified amount of time (each state is different - Utah is 24 hrs, Arizona is 72 hrs) the birth mother can sign the placement papers and you sign papers as well. This is when you become the official guardians of the child. This doesn't mean the baby is yours in a full legal sense, but that you are planning on being the parents. Each state has different waiting periods and requirements before finalization of the adoption can occur.
- This is where we are at right now. In Arizona 3 supervisory visits must take place by a social worker to make sure the baby is being taken care of and that this adoption should really happen. In some states, there's a certain waiting period, for example, in Utah it's 6 months.
- Finalization happens when a judge looks at your file and determines that everything has been done correctly and appropriately. He asks you some questions about your commitment to parent the child, and he then signs the Declaration of Adoption. THIS is when you legally become the parents of the child.
In some ways it seems crazy to have to go through all of that to become a parent, especially when by comparison there are no prerequisites for someone to give birth to a child. But, there are reasons for so much oversight, and it's mainly to protect the children involved. Having become a mother both ways, by giving birth and by adoption, I can say that they are both hard and emotional and full of uncertainties. In both cases, once you hold that sweet baby in your arms, you forget all the pain, fears, work, preparations, and all you feel is the joy. And right now as I type this and have my baby Kiira sleeping in my arms, I can absolutely say it is worth all of it!