This article is for those who wish to begin the adoption journey in Delaware. Whether you live in fast-paced northern or slower lower southern Delaware, if you are an expectant mother or hopeful adoptive parent, this article will give you guidance in a productive and specific way. Delaware is nicknamed “The First State,” and is home to rivers, beaches, and a rich history. It is the perfect environment for families, with beautiful scenery, friendly residents, and the best of country and city life. As your adoption journey begins in Delaware, the primary goal is joy and healing for all.

This Delaware adoption guide will break down the various steps for expectant/ birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents. No matter your role in the process of adoption, there are always answers and steps available. Delaware  has multiple agencies and resources with the goal of supporting you, and keeping your best interest in mind.

 

Expectant and Birth Parents: Placing a Child for Adoption

An expectant mother needs support throughout her adoption journey, as she makes various decisions and experiences diverse emotions. Adoption.com and Adoption.ORG, among many others, are resources available for support. You may be entering this adoption journey with several questions and concerns. As an expectant mother or father, it is important to be informed when deciding whether or not to place your child for adoption. It is important that you are at peace with your decision, as there will be both good and difficult days. Reaching out to trusted and experienced individuals is also vital, as you should be cared for throughout this journey. Your decision to place your child for adoption is one of the most selfless and loving gifts you can give your child. Thank you for choosing life for your child, and taking this brave step in finding your child a family. Help from professionals will aid this process, as you may be scared and not sure of where to start. Each situation is unique, but remember there is always hope and a future for you and your child.

Find an Adoption Agency

Adoption agencies are a great place to start, as each offers you support, provides counseling on decisions involving  adoption, and helps discuss your options. Once the decision is made, adoption agencies can also be a resource in finding affordable prenatal care, as this should be a priority after first learning about your pregnancy. Establishing a medical plan and scheduling a doctor’s visit as soon as possible is important for both you and the child. Agencies can help expectant parents with mental, physical, and emotional needs, connect you with hopeful adoptive parents, and walk you through the legal process. A good adoption agency can become a safe haven for expecting parents through a time that often feels difficult, heavy, and lonesome. There is a list of Delaware adoption agencies at the end of this article for you to consider, so you may research your options and feel confident in your choice.

Find a Support System

It is important for expectant mothers to find a support system for before, during, and after the adoption. This is a scary and difficult time, and the health of the expectant mother is a priority throughout the adoption process. There are many support groups available to expectant and birth mothers in Delaware. It is also recommended that the expectant mother attends counseling, or seeks a mentor or online group, as well as trustworthy family and friends, that will help her healthily process this emotional and difficult time. Adoption agencies often support birth mothers after her child is placed for adoption, with resources that include financial support, housing, and medical care. Placing a child for adoption takes courage, strength, and love, and expectant mothers need and deserve dependable support through this adoption journey.

Find a Family

Once an expectant mother has the support and resources needed, the next step is to choose adoptive parents for the child. Finding a hopeful adoptive family for your child is not an easy decision, but it is life changing. You will have a choice in the decision-making process, as the adoption agency or attorney will ask you what characteristics you would like in a hopeful adoptive family, and match you with profiles of parents seeking to adopt. A parent profile is a description and collection of information on families looking to adopt, many of which can be found on Adoption.com and other trusted adoption agency websites. Some agencies allow you to meet the hopeful adoptive families, so you can personally develop a feel for the couple’s character. In Delaware, the birth mother is allowed to consent to an adoption after the child has been born, so there is time before you need to make a legal and binding decision. The birth mother, birth father (or presumed father), and an adoption authority (such as the agency or department) involved in the adoption, must give consent in order for the adoption to be legally valid.

Create a Plan

The adoption plan will describe the details of the expectant mother’s wants and needs for herself and the child. Adoption agencies are key during this time, as expectant parents will learn more about open, semi-open, and closed adoptions. An open adoption is when the birth parents and adoptive family maintain contact and involvement in each other’s lives. The level of contact is previously agreed upon by the birth and hopeful adoptive parents. A semi-open adoption is when there is limited contact between the birth parents and adoptive family, also to a degree previously agreed upon. This type of adoption does not usually have face-to-face interaction. A closed adoption is when there is no interaction once the baby is placed with the adoptive family. Besides the adoption plan, creating a hospital plan will keep everyone on the same page regarding the child’s delivery, hospital stay, and medical care in the state of Delaware. The hospital plan is specific to you and the child, determining whether or not you want to see the baby after birth, want the hopeful adoptive parents there during delivery, or want the family to come to the hospital after the birth.

 

Hopeful Adoptive Parents: Choosing to Adopt

Hopeful adoptive parents are those who wish to grow their family through adoption. This path may be chosen for a variety of reasons, but it is important that it is chosen out of love, and a willingness to expand one’s heart and home. If you find yourself in this position, here are some steps you may find helpful.

Who Can Adopt?

In the state of Delaware, the following residents may adopt: individuals at least 21 years old, a husband and wife, single individuals, LGBTQ+ couples, individuals who are divorced or legally separated, and a  stepparent. For housing, you must rent or own a home with enough space for the child. Hopeful adoptive parents may be in the workforce or retired, and no parenting experience is required. Delaware needs more parents to open their homes to children, as there is an estimate of 515 children in the Delaware foster care system, waiting to be adopted. This does not account for the children outside of foster care. In 2015, 68 foster adoptions were completed, and nine international adoptions were completed in Delaware. If you have the love, space, and means to become an adoptive parent, it is most likely you will not be prevented.

Find an Adoption Agency

Hopeful adoptive parents in Delaware have a wide variety of adoption agencies with which to connect. An adoption agency can help the process of finding a child to adopt, connecting with an expectant mother, completing the legal requirements, and creating a parent profile. Adoption agencies will also help with specifying the requirements for different types of adoption, as there are three types—adoption from foster care, international adoption, and domestic adoption. Adopting a child through foster care is different from becoming a foster parent. The primary goal of foster care is to reunite children with birth parents, but this sometimes does not occur, and the children need to find forever families. When hopeful adoptive parents choose to adopt from foster care, these children find a final home. International adoption is when hopeful adoptive parents choose to adopt from another country, which involves Visas (a form of ID that allows your child to enter the United States). Domestic adoption is when hopeful adoptive parents choose to adopt within the United States. There is a list of Delaware adoption agencies at the end of this article for you to consider.

Create a Financial Plan

Adoption requires financial stability and planning. The process consists of legal fees, home study expenses, agency fees, and sometimes birth mother or international travel expenses. The cost of adoption varies, depending on the method. The domestic adoption of one child can cost an average of $40,000 in the United States. This can increase with travel expenses for international adoption, or decrease if adopting from foster care. Developing a financial plan will help all processes. The adoption agency can help  provide guidance and a plan throughout.

Create a Parent Profile

One way hopeful adoptive parents can connect with expectant mothers is by creating a parent profile. In order to create a parent profile, some hopeful adoptive parents choose to post on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or blogs, to begin connecting with expectant mothers. Adoption agencies and websites, such as Adoption.com, also provide a platform for hopeful adoptive parents and expectant mothers to connect. Your profile should include general information about your family, traditions, beliefs, home, extended family, community, and more. It should also include pictures, and will serve as an overview of who you are. Expectant mothers may view your profile when considering placing a child for adoption.

Complete a Home Study

Home studies are required to ensure the safety of your home and family. During the home study, all members of the household, including the children, will be interviewed by someone, who is often a social worker, from the adoption agency or attorney. Hopeful adoptive parents often find home studies intimidating, thinking they may be disqualified for not meeting a perfect standard, or having absolutely everything in place. This is not the case. The social worker is on your side, and is simply making sure your home is safe for the new child. The social worker often becomes another source of support, and can help answer your questions throughout the process. In order for the family to be eligible to adopt, the hopeful adoptive parents must complete a fingerprint-based criminal background check. There is also a health inspection, evaluation of character and responsibility, financial situation review, evaluation of the couple’s ability to care for a child, and a study of the home environment. The couple’s physical and mental health are taken into consideration during the adoption approval process in Delaware, and you may be required to present recent medical statements. Home study requirements vary between domestic, international, and foster care adoptions. Your adoption agency will guide you through this process, providing you with a checklist of necessary forms, and information on how the visit will go. After the adoption is complete and the child is in your home, the social worker will continue to visit a few more times, in order to ensure the child’s safety and happiness.

Find a Support System

The adoption process is life-changing, challenging and, in some cases, very long. Some hopeful parents wait years before placement, and the journey is only then truly beginning. It is vital for hopeful adoptive and adoptive parents to have a support system before, during, and after the adoption process. This may consist of a support group (online or in person), trustworthy friends and family, and/or counselors. You are giving this child a forever family, and the child is giving you the same. This process will not be easy, but there is always love and hope throughout the adoption journey.

 

Conclusion

No matter your location, role in the adoption process, or stage in life, adoption is a life-changing and challenging process. I hope you found this information about adoption in Delaware helpful as you begin your adoption journey. I hope it brought clarity and helped launch your process in finding a family, becoming a family, finding joy, and healing. Adoption is a blessing and growing experience for all members involved, though it may not always feel that way, and it is my wish for you to find support and courage through the process. Please feel free to comment with feedback or questions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions, or stories, as I hope to continue to support you with this process. There is hope and love in your future.

 

Adoption Information Resources

Adoption.com

Adoption.org

Adoption Agencies in Delaware

-Adoptions From The Heart

-A Better Chance For Our Children

-Children’s Choice

-Open Arms Adoption Network

-Madison Adoption Associates

-All About Love Adoptions

-Arrow Child & Family Ministries

-A Baby Step Adoptions Agency

 

Hannah Fisher

Hannah Fisher is a student in North Carolina, pursuing degrees in both Nursing and Psychology. Hannah is an older sister to 1 biological and 4 adopted siblings. She is passionate about adoption, family, and belonging. When she is not studying, Hannah can be found spending time with her family, writing articles or fiction, or enjoying music and movies.