How to Get Started with Adoption

So, you’re interested in adoption? That’s great! There are tons of kiddos in our city and our world who need safe and loving homes. The world of adoption can be really scary and tricky to navigate if you’re new to it. Somehow, there are almost no resources and an infinite amount of information to sort through.

Allow me, a momma-to-be via adoption (at the time of writing this), to share a little more about the different types of adoption. I’ll also share how to get started, and offer some suggestions for your next step in your journey.

From one momma-to-be to another, I’m glad you’re here and reading this.

Different Types of Adoption

The first thing you need to decide on is which type is right for your family. There are three primary types, each with their own unique considerations: domestic infant adoption, foster-adopt, and international adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption

Domestic infant adoption is just what it sounds like! This is for those who are looking to adopt a newborn baby, though this type of adoption can have babies of ages up to 12 months. Those looking to pursue this path will need to consider their desired level of involvement; specifically, if the prospective parents want to get an agency involved or work with an attorney directly for the legal process. 

Attorneys typically are cheaper than agencies, but they do require more effort from the adoptive parents from a “marketing” and overall involvement standpoint. Agencies are helpful in the sense that they “market” you to expectant parents and typically help you through the complexities of the legal system, but they are more expensive.

Wait times can vary greatly based on the preferences of the adoptive parents-to-be and the time it takes for a match with an expectant parent.


According to the US Child Welfare website, there are over 391,000 children in the United States in foster care right now. Though some reunite with their birth parents, the need for many of them to have permanent families is great. Foster-adopt is another path for families considering adoption, especially those looking for an older child.

Typically, children in the foster care system are school-aged and have experienced some sort of trauma that has led them to their current situation. Ensure you’ll be as prepared as possible to support your future children by reading up on trauma-informed parenting before you get started. My personal favorite to date is The Connected Child.

This route is the least expensive of the three options.

International Adoption

International adoption is still a viable path to bringing a new child into your home, though it has become increasingly challenging and more expensive in the past few years. The best place to start if you’re considering this is to look into the country you’d want to adopt from. Many countries restrict adoptive parents’ country of origin, amount of time married, age, and sexual orientation, so it is important to look at these things before moving ahead. The Department of State’s website is a great place to start your research.

Funding the Adoption

The biggest thing I hear from friends and families around me is, “Oh, I could never afford that.” To put it plainly: yes, it is expensive. It ranges between $3,000 and $60,000, depending on the type of adoption and the circumstances around it.

I’m here to tell you that while it is expensive, I’m a big believer in your ability to afford it if you really want to! There are tons and tons of resources out there, particularly tax credits and grants that can help you, especially economically-disadvantaged households. In fact, many employers will even help you fund your adoption! Check with your HR professional or employee handbook on this one. Please, friend, don’t let finances be the reason you don’t even look into adoption.

Taking the Next Step

If any of this tugged on your heart strings, listen to your heart! I’m not saying to commit or take the plunge into the deep end. But, I’m suggesting you stick your toe into the pool of adoption. Take the next step, whatever that might be. Stuck on what that might be? Here are some suggestions:

  • Consider the types of adoption you’d like to pursue first.
  • Talk to friends and family, especially those with adoption experience, about their knowledge. Adoptee experience is especially important if you can find it!
  • If you’re pursuing domestic infant adoption, contact a local agency or adoption attorney to get you started.
  • If you’re pursuing foster-adopt, contact a Michigan Foster Care Navigator to help you understand the process and your role as an adoptive parent.
  • If you’re pursuing international adoption, pick a country and dive deep into their requirements to adopt using the Department of State website.

Whatever your next step, I am proud of you for taking action! The adoptive journey can be a lonely one, so know that I am here to chat with you about your experiences as someone going through it, too.  

Looking for more encouragement? Erica reflects on her family’s history of adoption and foster care.


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