The Right Way to Adopt and Tips to Avoid a Scam

"If you're thinking about adopting a child, do it. There are so many children who want and need that special and safe place," Dr. Phil says. He shares tips to ensure a successful adoption.

Don't be scared to adopt; learn the facts to empower yourself to move forward with confidence.

Decide What Type of Adoption to Pursue
Can you handle a child who has special needs? What age range, background and ethnicity would fit best within your household? Can you welcome a group of two or more siblings into your home?

Select an Adoption Agency
There are public and private adoption agencies. Public agencies do not charge money or charge very little. They mostly place children with special needs and typically have flexible eligibility requirements for adoptive parents. Private agencies usually charge a fee. They give you access to a diverse population of available children. To find an agency, visit: You can also contact your state's Department of Human Services or Social Services, Child and Family Services and Health and Welfare Services and ask to speak with the adoption specialist.

Attend Adoption and Parenting Classes
Stay informed about the steps in an adoption process, so you can recognize if the process goes off course. Public agencies often require pre-placement training to acquaint prospective parents with issues that may arise after a child is placed in their home.

Begin Searching for a Child
If you adopt through an agency, find out how the agency conducts searches for children. Will the agency help you find a child outside of your local area? Stay in close contact with your agency and offer to help in the search process.

Select a Child or Sibling Group to Bring into Your Family
Before agreeing to adopt, learn as much as you can about the child or children. This should be a studied decision, not forced.

Prepare for Your Child's Arrival
Anticipate how the addition of a new family member will affect your life and plan accordingly, including preparing your house and other children, as well as arranging services for you and your child.

File a Petition to Adopt
An adoption petition is the document filed in the court that initiates the legal aspect of adoption. Adoptive parents use this to formally request permission to adopt a specific child. To file a petition, you will need the child's birth certificate or birthdate and place of birth, a written statement that confirms your desire and suitability to adopt, a written declaration that the adoption is in the child's best interest, your name, age and address, the date on which and from whom you received custody of the child, a statement of the legal reason why the birth parents' rights are being terminated and a disclosure of any relationship that you share with the child.

Finalize the Adoption
Complete the necessary adoption paperwork and make sure it gets filed.

Read the Fine Print
You want to adopt with your heart, but also with your head. Read all the papers and make sure you agree to what you're signing. For more information and to learn more about the adoption process, visit The North American Council on Adoptable Children at    

Tips to Avoid an Adoption Scam
Don't pay the full amount up front. Adoption agencies don't control timetables. Be cautious if they tell you they will bring you a child faster than another agency. You are allowed to take months to decide on a child. The decision does not need to be made overnight. Ask about post-adoptive services and counseling to help you figure out this new time in your life. An adoption professional shouldn't be offended when you ask questions for more information. Check the Better Business Bureau and the American Bar Association to find out who you're dealing with, and don't agree to terms based on faith in someone.  

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