Adoption Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Approximately, how many families are on your waiting list at this time? Also, how many birth mothers are you working with at this time?
Q. Do you ever have adoption seminars?
Q. I am interested in international adoption.Can I do that through your agency?
Q. I do not live in the United States. Can I work with your agency?
Q. I am interested in adopting a special needs child. Can I work with your agency?
Q. Does your adoption agency only handle infant adoptions? I am interested in adopting an older child.
Q. Can military couples adopt?
Q. Can same-sex couples adopt through your agency?
Q. I have a medical condition. Can I still adopt?
Q. Does your adoption agency require drug testing for your birth mothers?
Q. What type of adoption does your agency handle? Open? Closed?
Q. At what point can birth parents sign over their parental rights?
Q. What does it mean when available situations online mention that the birth mother used cigarettes daily, marijuana weekly, etc.?
Q. Will we receive any medical or background information on the expectant mother?
Q. I hear that birth mothers can change their mind and take back the baby. How safe is our adoption?
Q. Do we need to retain our own attorney?
Q. Can we choose the gender of our baby?
Q. What type of budget is reasonable and within the average for your agency?
Q. What happens if we wait longer than the average wait time communicated to us? Will any of our fees be refunded?
Q. If we are "active" and waiting to adopt, then I should become pregnant, what happens next? Would we still be able to adopt, or can our fees be put "on hold" for a period of time?
Q. What is the Agency-Assisted Program?
Q. What is the total cost for the entire adoption?
Q. What is an adoption home study, and when should we start one?
Q. What if I've already received the application packet for adoption but the packet is 60 days old or more?
Q. What is the next step?
How does American Adoptions find healthy babies faster than other programs?
We locate babies quickly for five key reasons:
First, we do not limit ourselves to advertising in one state. Our national advertising program, combined with our marketing research, allows us to be efficient in locating birth mothers. In fact, we are contacted by hundreds of pregnant women each month inquiring about our adoption services.
Second, we make efforts to balance the amount of adoptive families with pregnant mothers. Many adoption agencies accept an unlimited amount of families on their waiting lists and push a family's wait well beyond 3-5 years. By limiting the number of families, we reduce wait times to receive a baby.
Third, our staff develops special relationships with our expectant mothers. Our adoption counselors know what information to provide so as to inform and not overwhelm. Furthermore, we are readily available and provide 24/7 counseling services.
Fourth, our Adoptive Family Print and Video Profiles showcase your unique attributes as a couple and share your adoption story to its best potential. The profiles truly resonate with potential birth parents.
Finally, we have the best adoptive families in America and attract more expectant mothers to our agency. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION for our current wait time estimates.
Approximately, how many families are on your waiting list at this time? Also, how many birth mothers are you working with at this time?
This number varies. We try to keep the ratio as close to a one-to-one ratio as possible so that we are giving accurate wait times to our adoptive families. Call 1-800-ADOPTION to learn our most updated wait times.
Do you ever have adoption seminars?
Please check our website for an update on our seminars. Our Adoptive Family Coordinators would be glad to work with you and answer any adoption questions by phone as well; feel free to call us at 1-800-ADOPTION.
I am interested in international adoption.Can I do that through your agency?
American Adoptions only performs domestic infant adoptions. However, we can provide your international adoption home study, unless you are pursuing an international adoption with China.
I do not live in the United States. Can I work with your agency?
American Adoptions does not perform services for international adoption. Although we once worked with international couples who wished to adopt in the U.S., we have discontinued this service with one exception.
We can work with two U.S. citizens living abroad on a military base or in U.S. territories or protectorates. At least one spouse must be employed by the United States military or government. Read more about military families looking to adopt.
I am interested in adopting a special needs child. Can I work with your agency?
Our agency mainly handles adoptions with healthy newborns and infants. If you want to adopt a special needs child, please visit:Adopt America Network
Gladney Center for Adoption
Does your adoption agency only handle infant adoptions? I am interested in adopting an older child.
Our agency mainly works with healthy newborns and infants under six months of age. If you are interested in adopting an older child, you may wish to contact your local Social Service agency to inquire about older children available for adoption through the foster care system.
Can military couples adopt?
Yes, we have worked with many military couples. This will not preclude you from being eligible to adopt. Read Military Families and Adoption to learn more.
Can same-sex couples adopt through your agency?
Yes, American Adoptions has worked with many sex-couples looking to adopt. Please contact one of our Adoptive Family Coordinators at 1-800-ADOPTION for more information.
I have a medical condition. Can I still adopt?
We look at medical conditions on a case-by-case basis. Your home study will require a current physician's report, which asks your doctor to rate your physical and mental ability to parent. Every family who adopts completes this part of the process, regardless of their health. We have worked with many people with special health considerations that have successfully adopted.
Does your adoption agency require drug testing for your birth mothers?
We do not require drug testing for our birth mothers for several reasons.
- Many birth mothers are offended by this request and as a result choose to work with other adoption professionals who do not require this.
- No matter the type of drug test, there are ways to manipulate the results, and we cannot rely on their accuracy.
- About half of our birth mothers receive prenatal care. With regular prenatal care, we are able to monitor prenatal records.
If the baby tests positive for drugs at birth, or if something unexpected is discovered in the medical records, you do not have to continue with the match. Any time new medical information develops in an adoption match, we allow our adoptive families to reevaluate the situation. If you decide not to continue with a match, you can go back to the waiting list without being penalized for your decision.
What type of adoption does your agency handle? Open? Closed?
At American Adoptions, we highly encourage all of our prospective adoptive parents to pursue an open adoption. Therefore, we require applying families to be open to certain standards of communication in a relationship with a birth parent. This means that there is contact between that adoptive family and the birth parents through conference calls and/or face-to-face meetings, but no identifying information is exchanged unless you choose to share it.
In addition to conference calls and meetings, most birth parents request that the adoptive family send pictures and letters at regular intervals. Our standard picture/letter agreement requires adoptive families to provide pictures and letters through age 18. Picture and letter correspondence may be handled by the agency, although many of our birth parents and adoptive parents feel comfortable communicating directly. We do require that adoptive parents provide their child’s birth mother with an email and phone number for direct contact before and after the adoption is complete (although this can always be a number or email address you use solely for the sake of that communication). We also require adoptive families be open to one in-person visit within five years after placement.
We do not allow families to only accept closed adoptions, or those in which they have no contact with birth parents whatsoever. Most birth parents want some contact or future correspondence, and this would lead to a significant wait.
At what point can birth parents sign over their parental rights?
In most states, birth parents cannot sign over their parental rights until after the baby is born, commonly in the next 48 to 72. In most cases, once you are in a match, you will learn the legal process for the state in which your adoption will occur. Most of the time, a birth mother's rights are terminated once she signs the legal paperwork or goes to court, but she can change her mind up until the time of signing.
What does it mean when available situations online mention that the birth mother used cigarettes daily, marijuana weekly, etc.?
All birth mothers fill out a self-submitted social and medical history form for us that includes drug exposure. Each birth mother completes this form in accordance with her own interpretation and level of honesty. Our social workers work to obtain all pertinent drug exposure information, but we cannot guarantee that the information given to us is true and accurate because it is self-reported by each woman. One birth mother may check "weekly cigarettes" because she smokes five each week, while another will check this same box and mean 17. When possible, we also obtain medical records, and at time of birth, you will receive all of the baby's medical information.
Remember, we always allow our adoptive families to back out of a situation if new medical or drug information is outside their Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ).
Will we receive any medical or background information on the expectant mother?
Yes, hospital records and extensive medical and social history forms are completed by the birth parents and provide a wealth of information. This type of information is extremely important and valuable tool for you and your child.
I hear that birth mothers can change their mind and take back the baby. How safe is our adoption?
Safety is one of the most important issues in adoption today. Through highly publicized cases, the media has conjured up negative images of adoption without acknowledging the whole truth. These high profile cases were marred with mistakes made throughout the adoption. Media sensationalism makes it seem as if birth parents could take their child back anytime, with no cause. This is not the case.
There have been more than 1 million successful adoptions in the last 10 years, but only a few disrupted placements in which the baby was returned to birth parents. In many instances, smaller agencies and unqualified attorneys or judges made serious mistakes, which contributed to the failed adoption.
With thousands of successful adoptions during our history, our legal staff has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the legal aspects of adoption. We commit to providing you a secure adoption and follow legal procedures to the letter of the law. We take the worrying out of adoption.
Do we need to retain our own attorney?
No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.
Can we choose the gender of our baby?
American Adoptions accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.
What type of budget is reasonable and within the average for your agency?
For the Traditional Program, the average budget would be approximately $44,000 - $48,000. For our Agency-Assisted Program, the average budget would be approximately $40,000 - $43,000. This would exclude any home study related expenses as well as your travel expenses. It's hard to say how long a family will wait based on their budget, as there are other variables. Filling out the Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ) helps our staff understand what additional variables are in your adoption plan. The better a family's profile and the more flexible their APQ, the greater chance they will fall within our average wait times. After you join American Adoptions, your Adoptive Family Specialist will help you with your APQ and adoption budget.
What happens if we wait longer than the average wait time communicated to us? Will any of our fees be refunded?
When a family stays on our list beyond the average wait time, we continue to work with them as long as they wish to continue. Should a family decide to stop working with us, the fees paid up to and including your Activation Fee and Marketing/Advertising Fee would be considered non-refundable. Please contact an Adoptive Family Coordinator at 1-800-ADOPTION for more details.
If we are "active" and waiting to adopt, then I should become pregnant, what happens next? Would we still be able to adopt, or can our fees be put "on hold" for a period of time?
If you become pregnant, we will set your profile inactive so that you can focus on the pregnancy. We do ask that you wait until the child is around a year old before you reactivate/rejoin the agency and begin to pursue adoption again. While there would be some additional fees to update your home study and profiles, the Activation and Marketing/Advertising Fees you paid previously would still be valid. However, if a pregnancy results in a miscarriage, you can become active again once you have healed and addressed your loss. If you are matched and discover you are pregnant but want to continue, we will need to inform the birth mother of your pregnancy. It is her decision to pursue the adoption plan, and she may ask to select another family. Obviously, each situation is unique and handled on a case-by-case basis.
What is the Agency-Assisted Program?
The Agency-Assisted Program involves the adoption of healthy newborns of full African-American heritage or any race combined with African-American heritage. Average Wait: Wait until match: 1 to 6 months Wait until placement: 1 to 9 months 75 percent of adoptive families adopt within our average wait times. Please note that gender specificity may increase wait time. Families interested in the gender-specific option should contact an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION to see whether we are currently accepting gender-specific families into this program. Parent Eligibility: Interested adoptive parents must be 22 to 50 years old.
What is the total cost for the entire adoption?
Several factors determine the total cost for an adoption, including the program you choose. There are also variable costs in every adoption; these include medical bills, birth mother expenses and legal fees. Fee estimates do not include your home study or travel expenses. Adoptive families may place a limit on their adoption budget. We strive to provide affordable adoptions without cutting corners. Please see Our Domestic Adoption Programs for further details. Our free adoption information provides fee descriptions, waiting times and family eligibility for each of our adoption programs.
What is an adoption home study, and when should we start one?
A home study is a basic overview of your family's life, history and home, which allows courts and our agency to determine if a stable emotional, physical and financial environment exists for an adopted child. Home studies highlight items such as your relationships, interactions with children and your home and neighborhood. Since the home study can be a lengthy process, we recommend that you begin the process as soon as possible. Collecting documents like birth certificates or marriage licenses for your home study can be time consuming; background checks are also required.
If you reside in Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Arkansas, Texas or Florida - states where American Adoptions is licensed to complete home studies - we can complete your home study in four to six weeks. We offer adoption home study services for domestic adoptions, embryo adoptions and international adoptions, except those that require a Hague-Accredited Agency (China).
Please note that many states, adoption agencies, and courts will only accept home studies from a licensed agency. If someone other than a licensed agency completes your home study, you may be required to have another home study performed later. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) offices can deny or delay approval of an adoption when a home study is not completed by a licensed professional, causing an increased wait and higher costs.
Read more about home studies and locating a home study professional in our Adoption Home Study section.
What if I've already received the application packet for adoption but the packet is 60 days old or more?
If you have already received an application packet, and it is 60 days old or more, we suggest that you request a new copy of our Free Adoption Information and/or speak with an Adoptive Family Coordinator at 1-800-ADOPTION. While significant changes are uncommon, we want to ensure you have the most current information before you apply.
What is the next step?
Simply fill out and submit the Free Adoption Information form to receive information on applying to one of our domestic adoption programs online. After you complete your preliminary application, you will be sent the necessary paperwork to start the adoption process.