No one would accuse me of being hyper-organized. Or organized. But I successfully made it through two adoption processes without a hitch. Of course I tried to adopt seven times… No, not really. Two attempts, two kids as planned. The agencies we worked with knew the ins-and-outs of the whole process and led us through step-by-step.
You don’t have to write a dissertation on adoption, you just have to put yourself in the right hands. Parts of the process are fun and others are tedious. International adoption can be expensive. But there are organizations to help fund adoption and tax credits you can receive for an adoption. Foster care adoption, through social services, is sometimes free but can cost up to about $2,500..
There are, generally speaking, two strands in adoption.
Home Study: A local social worker gets to know you through interviews, recommendations, and biographical essays. She then writes her recommendation concerning your suitability as a parent.You will also have to collect vital records such as birth certificates and order a criminal background check. Yosef and I both have police records (who knew that protesting outside a nuclear power plant would cause a little extra paperwork when we adopted?) but since they were for political demonstrations we were okay.
Getting to your child: For international adoption, some agencies direct the overseas orphanages they work with. Some have relationships with other institutions in the “sending” country. In either case, they will guide you through the various levels of paperwork and through the process of matching with a child. Sometimes you will get a dvd of the children, with a short focus on each one; often there are listings on-line with photos and descriptions of the child or sibling group. Or you will a get a referral of a child that you can accept or not. For domestic adoption, they will guide you in matching with your child, and in speaking with the professionals and foster parents who know him.
Here are on-line resources to get you started.