Alaska is known for its beautiful landscape, wild animals, and outdoor activities. Rather than an Alaska travel guide, we have put together an Alaska adoption guide that will walk you through adoption in and from Alaska. We will talk about things to consider and Alaskan adoption laws that are relevant to both expectant families and hopeful adoptive families.

For Expecting Families

An Alaska adoption guide wouldn’t be much of a guide if we didn’t talk directly to expecting families. If you find yourself in an unplanned pregnancy and/or are looking to place your child for adoption, there are a few things you might want to consider before moving forward. You are not alone. There are many other families in your position and resources in your community to help you. As the parent of your child, it is your decision how to move forward. Whether you decide to parent or place your child for adoption, you know what is best for your baby and what is best for you and your situation. 

You have the right to choose to parent your child. A few things you might want to think about when making your decision are the following:

  • What are my feelings about being a parent and taking care of another person?
  • Does becoming a parent feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
  • Am I ready to take care of all my child’s needs?
  • Am I ready to love a child now?
  • Am I ready to have less time for myself and more stress?
  • Am I ready to deal with the money needed to support a child?
  • What would it mean for my future if I have a child now?
  • Do I have support from my family and friends? (Source)

If you feel that parenting is the best choice for you and your baby, reach out to the Alaska Children’s Trust for support and guidance to resources for you and your child.

If you are considering adoption for your child, there are a few things that you should ask yourself as you make your decision.

  • What are my feelings about adoption and another person being my baby’s parent?
  • Does adoption feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
  • Can I go through pregnancy and birth then place my baby with someone else?
  • Will I be able to cope with the feeling of loss that I may have after the pregnancy is over?
  • Is anyone pressuring me to choose adoption?
  • Do I have support from my family and friends? (Source)

If you decide that adoption is the best decision for you and your child, you will want to connect with an adoption agency. When you work with an adoption agency, you can be provided with a lot of support and guidance in the adoption process. The Gladney Center for Adoption is an incredible adoption agency that can help you to create an adoption plan, connect you with a counselor, and help you to choose a family for your baby. As the mother of your child, you are entitled to certain rights that cannot be taken from you.

You have the right to choose how your pregnancy and delivery will happen. You are the one to create your birth plan. You are responsible for your prenatal care and what you choose to put into your body. You can choose to have a medicated or unmedicated birth, deliver in a hospital or birthing center, and whether or not you want your baby to spend time with you after the delivery. You will also create an adoption plan.

You will choose the family for your baby. Working with an agency, you will be shown multiple family profiles to choose from. Before looking through profiles, it is a good idea to make a list of priorities that you feel are most important in a family. You can choose if your baby goes to a family with a single parent, a married couple, a heterosexual couple, or a same-gender couple. You can choose whether or not the family has other children in the home, if one of the parents stays home with the children, and/or if they have support from extended family. 

You get to choose how open you want your adoption. Some birth parents choose to have a closed adoption where they don’t have contact with the child or with the adoptive family. Other birth parents might choose various levels of openness. It could be that you want updates and pictures sent once or twice a year or that you want regular visits. This is something that you will discuss with the hopeful adoptive family and make sure that you are on the same page.

For the Hopeful Adoptive Family

To be a complete Alaska adoption guide, we can’t forget the hopeful adoptive parents/families. The world of adoption can be a little overwhelming, and there are a lot of pieces to this big puzzle. We want to share some important information about the home study process, different forms of adoption, and how to finance your adoption. 

Home Study

You’ve probably already heard about this big piece to adoption. The home study process can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! If you find a good caseworker, they will walk you through the steps, and it won’t be such a daunting practice. If you are working with an agency, they will connect you with a caseworker. For a home study, you will be asked to collect a lot of documents and information. 

  • Social security card
  • ID (driver’s license)
  • Immigration documentation (if applicable)
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage license (if applicable)
  • Divorce documentation (if applicable)
  • Background check
  • Medical insurance
  • CPR certification
  • Pet vaccinations
  • Proof of income (pay stubs, tax forms, letters from employers)
  • References

Your caseworker will give you an exact list of everything that he/she needs so that you can collect everything before the visit. Your caseworker will likely send you a list of questions to think about or complete and will want to learn all about your childhood, education, relationships, extended family, friends, community, work, parenting philosophy, strengths, and weaknesses. 

The caseworker will coordinate a time with you to come to your home and talk with each person living in the home individually and as a group. She will look around your home to make sure there is enough space for a child, and that your home is safe. Some families get really worried about this portion of the home study, but you shouldn’t! Caseworkers aren’t coming to do a clean check with a white glove. They just want to make sure that your home is safe, generally clean, and can meet the needs of a child.

After your visit, the caseworker will take a few weeks to write up everything you talked about into a formal document. He will send it to you for approval. After approval, your caseworker will have it notarized and will send you the needed files. You will then be officially ready to adopt!

Domestic Infant Adoption

If you are hoping to adopt a baby, domestic infant adoption is probably the route that you will want to take. You can adopt independently or through an agency. An independent adoption is when the hopeful adoptive family and the expecting family make a connection on their own. They can make a connection through mutual friends, an attorney, or maybe a doctor. They will use an adoption attorney to finalize the adoption. The advantage of an independent adoption is that it is generally less expensive than working with an agency. The downside of an independent adoption is that there is no support in navigating the adoption process, no support for the birth mother, and no support for the adoptive family. 

If you decide to work with an agency, the cost is generally a bit higher. Working with an agency provides you support throughout the whole adoption process and support services for birth families afterwards. A strong agency will ensure that birth families are supported and directed to needed resources. They will also make sure that families receive therapy before and after the adoption. Your home study for a domestic infant adoption will be specific for the child or children that you wish to adopt. You can specify age, gender, race, level of disability, and if you are willing to adopt multiples. 

Adoption Through Foster Care

Foster care is a program created to provide temporary homes for children who are in need. Children are placed into foster care because of neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Their parents are given time to get back on track. Their parents also work closely with a caseworker and a judge to create a plan to improve their living situation, learn coping skills, and learn how to be safe parents. If they do everything that they are asked to do, they can be reunited with their children. The goal of foster care is reunification, not adoption. This is something to be aware of before becoming a foster parent. There are situations, though, where children are placed in a foster home as legal-risk placements, and parental rights will likely be terminated. 

There are children in the foster system whose parental rights have already been terminated and are waiting for their forever families. These children are generally older, part of a sibling group, and/or have a disability. These children are able to be adopted after at least six months of being in your home as a foster placement. 

In this Alaska adoption guide, we will walk you through the process of becoming a foster parent in Alaska. The initial requirements to become a foster parent in Alaska include the following:

  • Must be at least 21
  • Must be in good physical and emotional health
  • Must be financially stable
  • Provide three character references
  • Be properly motivated to foster children
  • Have a home that meets basic fire, safety, and sanitary standards
  • Have enough room in the home for another child (Source)

You will then be required to attend an orientation, complete an application packet, get fingerprinted, pass a background check, and complete a home visit. You will work with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to complete your home study. Your home study should meet the specific requirements for foster care. 

International Adoption

International adoption is when you adopt a child living outside of the United States. Generally, children who are adopted internationally are living in orphanages or foster homes in their native country. To adopt internationally, you will need a home study specific to international adoption. You will need to work with a Hague-accredited agency. Gladney Center for Adoption explains what the Hague accreditation means, saying, “The Hague Convention protects children and their families against the risk of unregulated adoptions abroad and ensures that intercountry (district) adoptions are made in the best interests of the children. The Convention also protects against unethical, unlawful, and inhumane adoption practices” (Source).

International adoption can be very expensive and a time-consuming process. Your home study will be completed to meet the requirements of the Hague Convention. It is very rewarding and is an experience unlike any other. There are thousands of children around the world that need a safe and loving home. 

Adoption Finances

While adoption can be very expensive, there are a lot of options to find ways to afford your adoption. There are low- to no-interest loans and adoption grants that you can apply for. You can also host fundraisers and pinch your pennies. When you work hard to find a way to make it work, it can happen! 

The government also provides an adoption tax refund which will reimburse you for all relevant adoption costs. For the refund, “Taxpayers can receive a tax credit for all qualifying adoption expenses up to $14,300 in 2020. The maximum credit is indexed for inflations” (Source). While the reimbursement won’t happen right away, it can be a great relief for families that have spent significant funds on adoption. 

Michelle is the mother to two beautiful children and a hopeful adoptive mama of one more! When she isn’t chasing her kids around, she is working as an adjunct professor teaching college writing and working as a freelance writer. She loves to be creative and runs her own floral design business for weddings and events. Her titles of wife and mother bring her the most joy, fulfillment, and challenge in her life.