So many questions run through your mind when you decide to pursue adoption. How do I get started? What do I need to do? Where can I adopt a baby? But don’t worry. Adoption is a fairly straightforward process once you know where to go and what to do.

If you’re interested in adopting a baby, your first step is to locate an adoption agency or attorney in your area. You can find a plethora of licensed and reputable professionals online, but always be sure to research them before making a decision about who to work with. When my husband and I decided to adopt, we gathered information from a few agencies in our home state. We also attended a couple of informational meetings to learn more about their programs, policies, and fees. We decided on a smaller, local agency because we liked the amount of personal attention and support they gave to everyone involved in the adoption process. They seemed more caring and down-to-earth than the larger agencies, which, in my opinion, focused more on money and operated like regular businesses. Some hopeful parents prefer larger agencies because they typically have shorter wait times. It all depends on what you are looking for.

Before you make a final decision, get references and speak with adoptive parents about their experiences. I found the Adoption Forums at to be a wonderful resource and support network throughout the adoption process. It was nice to connect with others who had already been through the process and encourage those who were in the same situation as us.

Once you’ve decided on an agency or attorney, you’ll need to complete paperwork and a home study. Your adoption professional will be able to answer any questions you have about the process and help guide you. If you’d like to adopt a newborn, you will most likely complete a domestic infant adoption. International programs are also available at some agencies; however, the children are usually older or have special needs.

After your paperwork and home study are complete, you’ll create a Dear Expectant Parent letter and/or adoption profile with information and pictures about your family. An expectant parent considering placing her baby for adoption will be able to review the collection of letters and profiles at your agency to choose a suitable family. There is no way of predicting when you will be chosen, but rest assured, most people who decide to adopt are eventually successful.

In most domestic infant adoptions, you’ll be present at the hospital at the time of the birth. My husband and I met our daughter’s birth parents in the hospital room and then joined their families in the waiting room until after the birth. I’ll never forget the mixture of nerves and excitement I felt that day. My heart raced. My face felt warm. My palms sweat. It was sort of like being on a job interview! Our daughter’s biological aunt noticed and remarked I looked as nervous as the expectant mom. We all had a good laugh, which helped to break the ice and make everyone feel more comfortable. A couple of hours later, we held our daughter in our arms for the first time, filled with a flood of mixed emotions — awe, love, wonder, fear, excitement, and sadness.

Typically, you’ll bring the baby home right from the hospital. Our daughter came home with us the next day, and we began our lives as a new family right away. Depending on the state you live in, there may be a waiting period for the biological parents to go to court and relinquish their rights. For us, the wait was about six weeks. Once your child’s biological parents sign their papers, you’ll also attend a court hearing to finalize the adoption. At that point, your baby is legally your child. She has found her forever family, and you have found a love you never knew existed: the powerful, lifelong bond between a parent and child.

Deanna Kahler is a proud mom and freelance writer with more than 20 years of professional experience. She has written for several adoption websites and is the author of the award-winning book, From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption. When she’s not busy educating and inspiring others, Deanna enjoys hanging out in parks and on the shores of Michigan’s beautiful lakes. Check out her webpage at