Welcoming a new child into your home through adoption is one of the most joyous and life-affirming experiences any parent could hope to have. However, the adoption process does present some unique challenges, and there are many complex steps and requirements along the way before you can actually bring a new child into your family.
At the Kallen Law Firm, LLC, our St. Louis adoption lawyers are well-versed in this area of the law, and we have more than 25 years of combined experience handling sensitive child adoption cases. We know the process inside and out, and we can be your advocate during the often overwhelming amount of paperwork and investigation required of prospective parents. In this post, we’ll touch on the 3 major steps you can expect when beginning the adoption process.
Getting Started: Requirements and First Steps
After many talks with a partner, mentor, counselor, or friend, you’ve decided to pursue an adoption and bring a child into your life. But you have no idea where to even begin, and countless adoption agencies and professionals claim they can provide you with the easiest means to adoption. What’s next?
Before you can adopt, you will need to confirm the following criteria through the Missouri Department of Social Services:
- That you are an adult over the age of 21 (single or otherwise)
- That you have steady income
- That your housing accommodations meet state standards
- That you are in good mental and physical health, and pass health screenings
- That you pass all state background checks
- That you have completed the Missouri Specialized Training, Assessment, Resources, Support and Skills (STARS) program
- That you are willing to work as a partner with the child’s family
Once you have met these requirements, you can begin the process in earnest by selecting the right adoption type and professional for your needs.
Selecting the Right Adoption Professional
Next, you’ll need to discover which type of adoption you want to pursue – and which adoption professionals will best help you place a child in your home. There are a wide range of options, including those intended for same-sex couples and those seeking to adopt internationally, but typically the most common options are independent, private agency, or public agency adoptions.
Because public agencies are funded by the state, they may have almost no costs or fees, but they also tend to come with fewer resources for counseling, home study, and more. On the other hand, private agencies cost more, and may have many other requirements on top of those required by law. More stringent rules about age, income, education, home life, and marital status are common.
Finally, in order to perform an independent adoption, you will need to invest time in finding a skilled adoption law attorney. While adoption lawyers are required to finalize all adoption agreements, in an independent adoption, they will be actively assisting you with the process from beginning to end.
Each adoption type has its own benefits and downsides, especially when it comes to cost, so it’s important to do your research first.
Completing a Home Study
Once you’ve hired an adoption professional or group of professionals, and taken all appropriate classes and trainings, it will be time to complete your “home study.” This is where state social workers perform a comprehensive assessment of your home and family environment, and then submit a report showing you are ready to take on the responsibility of an adopted child.
During this portion of the process, a social worker will do the following:
- Interview your entire household, both together and jointly
- Evaluate and collect key documents, like social security, financial statements, and birth certificates
- Inspect your home to see if it meets health and safety requirements
- Help you implement any safety improvements if your house falls below the standard
- Confirm your background check and follow up on references
- Examine your routines, daily life, neighborhood, and overall environment
- Analyze what children you may be best suited to parent
The process can take up to six months in some cases, and it can seem lengthy and cumbersome at times. However, typically social workers are not looking to disqualify new parents, but to help prepare them for their new responsibilities to the fullest.
Once your home study has been approved, it’s really only a matter of patience and paperwork before you may be placed with your child. At the Kallen Law Firm, LLC, our dedicated St. Louis adoption law attorneys can provide you with the compassionate counsel you need when you’re looking to adopt, no matter where you currently are in your adoption journey. With hundreds of family law cases handled, we can apply our years of experience to helping you build your family.
Ready to start the process today? Simply call us at (314) 441-7793 to receive a free initial consultation.