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 March 13, 2015 |

Adding a new member to a family is a very big undertaking, no matter how prepared an individual or a couple is for parenthood. The adoption of a child takes time, probably with good reason. Baton Rouge residents may become interested in adoption before learning much about the legal process or how adoption can impact their lives.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a website provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a good starting point for prospective parents. The information and fact-filled site provides links to each state’s adoption laws, including Louisiana, and other valuable resources.

The first steps in the adoption process are exploratory. Individuals and couples are encouraged to take part in community-sponsored adoption preparation programs. Exploring the legal regulations follows; keep in mind the wider your search, the more rules will apply.

It can be beneficial at this point to draw up a list of concerns and speak with an adoption attorney. Feel free to ask questions about different kinds of adoption: intrafamily adoptions, foster child adoptions, private and agency adoptions and domestic, interstate and international adoptions. This is also a good time to share expectations, get a time frame and discuss costs.

Part of the adoption process includes a home study, a process that may last several months. Social workers visit the adoptive parents’ home and interview household members; the investigation is conducted to ensure a child is entering a safe and stable environment. Home study requirements vary according to the type of adoption you seek.

Placement follows the home study, which can be another lengthy undertaking. Adoptions are not finalized until a child has lived in the adoptive parents’ home, typically for a minimum of six months, during which time social workers return to monitor how the parent-child relationship is progressing.

Attorneys provide guidance through this simultaneously very stressful and exciting time.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Adoption: Where Do I Start?” accessed Mar. 13, 2015

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