Steps for Down syndrome domestic adoption (you could follow this for any adoption, I suppose...just eliminate any step that is specifically related to adopting a child with Down syndrome.)The following are the steps I took in getting ready to adopt our baby boy. Please note that we adopted domestically, which means from the United States.
- Get a Home Study – you MUST have a completed and up-to-date home study in order to adopt a child. Start calling adoption agencies in your area and see who has the best price. We actually started out as foster parents, so our home study through the state was free, but I had to pay an agency to “amend” it so that it could be used with private agencies. I called around and most agencies wanted to charge me about $1500 (YIKES!). However, those agencies would also have sought a child for me. I didn’t want to pay anyone to do that because I didn’t think they would have much luck FINDING a baby with DS (Down Syndrome) for us. I ended up finding a non-profit agency that would amend our Foster Parent Home Study for just $350. After you have a home study, then you are ready to start getting the word out that you wish to adopt.
- Create a “family profile.” This is something that a potential birth mom can read about your family. It should include nice photos and information about your family and what you all are like. Here is a copy of ours for you to get ideas: FlegerProfileDSG
- Get on Robin Steele’s Down syndrome adoption waiting list here: http://www.dsagc.com/programs_adoption.asp. You can find her email address right in that link. When I first emailed her she got back to me right away. She hears about babies and children with Down syndrome that are coming up for adoption all the time and acts as a coordinator to help connect families and children…and she doesn’t charge for this! She will tell you what she does, and then if you are interested she will have you fill out an application. She contacted me with three different possible placements before we were contacted about Joshua, so she is really a great resource to have!
- Start contacting agencies that you are willing to drive to to adopt. I emailed agencies that I was willing to travel to to adopt. I let them know that we wanted to adopt a baby with Down Syndrome and I included a copy of our family profile as well as letting them know that we were home study ready. (This is how we were contacted regarding our son, Josh, last year!)
- Contact the following and get into their database, as well: http://www.chask.org/; http://www.spence-chapin.org/adoption-programs/b2_special_needs.php (based out of New York — but very low fees!); and http://specialneedsinfantadoption.blogspot.com/. These are all people who can put you on their waiting list for no charge. I NEVER paid anyone to put me on their waiting list. You can if you want, but I don’t see the need to unless you are really desperate and have tons of money.
- Start fund raising for your adoption or seek out getting a grant. I got a lot of great ideas here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fundraisingforadoption/. I ended up doing just a little bit of fund raising, because our adoption fees of $6,000 were completely paid by a grant. Please see this page regarding grant foundations to contact. I did an online/catalog party with a Thirty-One (purses, tote bags) consultant who donated all of her 25% commission to our fund. I can put you in touch with her if you ask. )
- Grant Organizations: Click here for a list of organizations that could help you fund your adoption. Special needs usually get higher priority for some of these. Here is another list I came across yesterday at a different site.