Just like Missouri is known as the “Show-Me” state, this Missouri adoption guide will show you some points for the adoption process, whatever member of the adoption triad you are in. Whether you are pregnant and concerned about your child, or you are looking to grow your family, adoption is one of the most impactful decisions you will ever make. Before you make your choice, it is important that you have the right information and support. Here, you will find information on adoption in Missouri.

Where do I Begin an Adoption in Missouri?

Expectant mothers can use this AdoptionDirectory.com link to find a center for help with adoption in Missouri. The providers you will find in this directory can assist you in making this decision and provide you with resources to move forward. It is important that your emotional, mental, and physical health is maintained during your pregnancy, and you should make time to find providers for all of these. Should you choose adoption for your child and cannot afford these services, an agency or adoption attorney will be able to help you find assistance.

If you are a hopeful adoptive parent wondering where to begin the adoption process, you can start with an agency or begin researching based on your location through Adoption.com’s local adoption information. You will need to decide if you want to adopt through foster care, internationally, or a domestic adoption either privately or through an agency.

Reach Out. 

If you are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby, finding a support group either in person or on social media can help you make an informed decision. You may not be comfortable talking to family or friends about your pregnancy yet, but there are many organizations such as Pregnancy Hotline: Pregnant and Need Help, as well as blogs such as Adoption.com and Adoption.ORG that share the experiences of birth parents who chose adoption, and who can help you find a network of people to support you through your journey.   You may find recommendations in support groups or on social media that can help you find someone to lean on during this time. You will be surprised to find people that can articulate the feelings you have or encourage you as you make your decision.

Prospective parents seeking adoption should also find a support group. You will be surprised at the people who are critical of your choice and those who champion your decision. Social media has hundreds of groups to help you gather information, whether you choose adoption through foster care, internationally, or a domestic adoption either privately or through an agency, and to help you make a decision about which one is best for you.

Start writing down questions, concerns, or thoughts you have, whether you are the birth parent or the hopeful adoptive parent seeking adoption. From finances to a hypothetical scenario you are concerned about 10 years in the future, your rights, or your child’s rights, start making a list, and when you are talking to someone in a support group, an attorney, or an agency worker. Ask those questions. If you find someone who is really willing to be open, do not be embarrassed to ask about finances or feelings. This is a huge decision for you regardless of what role you are taking, and you need to be informed. You also may have to keep asking and ask different people if you don’t find the answers you need.

Be Open-Minded.

There is a chance that the informed decision you come to is not the decision you set out to make.

For birth parents, you may start out leaning toward adoption, and after hearing other people’s experiences, you may feel empowered to parent your child. 

For parents looking to grow your family through adoption, you may start out wanting an international adoption and end up settling on adoption through Missouri’s foster care system.  Regardless of what you settle on, you should be confident and comfortable with your choice being the best thing for you and your family.

Take Action.

For birth parents, this is going to involve contacting an agency or an adoption attorney. AdoptionDirectory.com has several options in Missouri. The process is going to be lengthy, but take your time, and find someone you are comfortable working with. Also, if the agency or attorney asks you to do something that you aren’t comfortable with, speak up. Communicate with the agency or attorney about your physical and emotional needs, and don’t feel guilty asking for help. Everyone involved will want your baby to be safe and healthy, and that starts with you being safe and healthy. Missouri law allows for birth parents’ financial needs to be met in areas such as legal costs for the adoption, rent, transportation, groceries, utilities, and clothing, so don’t hesitate to communicate your needs. For expectant parents, this may involve contacting an agency, filling out an application, or beginning the certification process for foster-to-adopt. 

In the case of hopeful adoptive parents, start thinking about and planning to fill out the necessary paperwork and prepare for the home study. One bonus to starting with the state certification process is that the background check and home study process are the same for private adoption, so if you change your mind, you won’t be out the time and effort you put into those steps.

Start Working on Logistics.

For birth parents, this is going to include managing details like selecting the family you will place your child with, communicating about interactions you will have with your child in the future, how that will be done, and the frequency.

For hopeful adoptive parents, you will have a lot of planning to do. The process could take a while, but you have a lot to complete. You can start working on a bedroom for your child, but you especially need to have a travel plan if your child-to-be is not local, arrangements to take leave from work, and prepping your home to be safe for a child. The certification process will involve multiple home assessments, but you may find that you need additional smoke detectors, locks on cabinets, a place to safely store weapons, and even more safety equipment if you have a swimming pool. You will need a physical by your doctor, a background check, and if you have pets, you will need current vaccination records. These things can be overwhelming if you try to do these steps all at once, so try to schedule a few appointments at a time and work through a few forms at a time, then take a break.

Talk to Your Family and/or Friends.

You may have done this already, and there may be people you choose not to share your experience with, but it is something to consider.

As the birth parent, maybe you just don’t feel like you can confide in your parents, but someone who cares for you should know what you are going through and the life-changing decision you are making. This is not to say that you should let others’ opinions sway you from your choice, but you may be surprised at the support, encouragement, and wisdom you receive from your loved ones.

As the hopeful adoptive parent, you have probably already started telling people by this point, but if you haven’t, let some trusted people know. As with any decision, there are going to people who react negatively, but you will find family members and friends who are thrilled to celebrate your growing family with you. If you have family members or friends who have grown families by adoption, these people could be an invaluable resource and support for you. If you are adopting through the foster care system, don’t hesitate to create a registry of needs and wants, just like if you were expecting a biological child. People will still want to celebrate your family and support you. If you are working through a foreign or domestic private adoption, family and friends may want a chance to offer you financial support. Regardless of the path you end up choosing, do not rob your family and friends of the chance to support you because you are afraid someone will discourage you.

Take Care of Your Mental Health.

Whether you are an expectant/birth parent considering placing your child for adoption, or a hopeful parent looking to adopt, this process is going to take a toll on you. Take time to meditate, make an appointment with a counselor, get a massage, go for a drive, cry, daydream, or talk to your support group. Just do not carry the burden of this process in silence. Many people go through the adoption process and come out the other side with anxiety, guilt, and even PTSD. Spend time working through your feelings and not just pushing feelings down saying, “It’ll be better after the baby is born,” or, “Once I hold my baby everything will be fine.” This article includes some raw and thoughtful poetry by a birth mother called “Thoughts and Poems from a Birth Mother’s Heart.”  As a parent who is currently adopting through foster care, I can say that a hopeful adoptive parent waiting for adoption has so many highs and lows and so much stress that it is hard to enjoy or notice the little moments that bring you closer to adoption. Working through the adoption process and coming out mentally unhealthy will make it difficult to be the parent you dreamed of being.  

Closing Thoughts for Birth Parents

If you are a biological parent in Missouri, I hope you are able to make your decision from a position of empowerment, and not due to a lack of support or resources. This article from Adoption.ORG is the last link I will leave you with as a means of support for you no matter what you choose.

More Details for Prospective Parents

If you are a hopeful adoptive parent in Missouri hoping to grow your family through adoption, below is more detailed information about international, domestic, and foster-to-adopt starting from your state. 

To be an adoptive parent, you must:

-Pass a child abuse/neglect check as well as criminal record check including fingerprinting.

-Be at least 21 years old.

-Be mentally and physically healthy.

-Be financially stable. (There is not an income threshold, but you should be financially independent.)

-Complete the free training and assessment process.

-Be willing to advocate for the child and address concerns as part of a team, professionally.

-Work with the child’s biological family.

Domestic Infant Adoption

If you are considering this road, you should prepare for the costs. While Missouri does not allow unreasonable requests for support to the birth parent, it does allow prospective adoptive parents to provide reasonable living expenses to support the birth parent during what is indisputably a traumatic, as well as physically and emotionally demanding time. There are also legal fees, court filing costs, and travel expenses if the biological family isn’t local. This is why it is so difficult to assign a dollar figure to this process. Regardless, you can create an adoption profile for expectant biological parents to connect with you here in this article called “Find Adoptive Parent Profiles. People Wanting to Adopt.” You can also use the Adoption Directory listed earlier to assist you in finding an agency or attorney to help you.

International Adoption

There are a few things to consider with international adoption that parents should be aware of before beginning the process. This article called “The International Adoption Guide” does a great job of explaining the complexities, although it is not state specific. Big considerations here are going to be travel, waiting periods, of course, expenses, and the thought that you may not have a chance to know your child’s birth parents and, by extension, your child may never be able to reconnect with birth parents.  

Foster Care-Adoption

Adoption through foster care is going to be the least expensive (theoretically, there are no costs involved that are not reimbursable) and have the least amount of wait time. If you feel like the time is now for you to be a parent, this certification process will be completed in just a few months, and there are children in the Missouri foster care system waiting for families now.  My recommendation to everyone considering foster-to-adopt is to go to the classes.  Missouri’s STARS program is comprehensive and detailed and you will know almost immediately if this is right for you.

I hope you are able to use this article as a reference as you pursue adoption in Missouri, whether you plan to adopt or place for adoption. 

Aubrey McAnn is a foster mom who is currently in the process of adopting her first and only foster placement.  She is an advocate for children who get lost in the foster system and wants all children to have a home.  She lives in Louisiana with her husband, soon-to-be-adopted daughter, and a menagerie of farm animals and pets. Aubrey has a Master’s degree in Special Education and has worked as a Special Education teacher for elementary-aged students for five years.  She has worked extensively with children who have adverse behaviors and a variety of physical and developmental needs and enjoys helping parents navigate the world of special needs parenting. When she isn’t at school or navigating the foster care system, Aubrey is feeding her cows, doling out ear scratches to her bulls, or snuggling her donkeys.