Want to adopt? Do your homework, start online

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By Lori Santos

November is National Adoption Month, and TODAY will do its part in raising awareness with a week long series, "Choosing Adoption." TODAY will shed a light on adoption and the 100,000 children in foster care who still need homes. Viewers can join in the discussion by tweeting their questions and comments by using #AdoptionTODAY.

Here are a couple of good places to start investigating the adoption process, and four tips to keep in mind as you go. Chuck Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the National Council for Adoption, says the most important thing is to do your homework.

1. Decide what kind of adoption is best for you
You can adopt domestically, through foster care or overseas. Johnson says going domestic or international can be very expensive, an average of $25,000 to $30,000. Each avenue results in about 18,000 adoptions a year, though the overseas number has been declining.


2. Watch out for scams, changes of heart
Johnson says there are bad agencies, unscrupulous attorneys, even birth parents who have no intention of going through with it or aren’t even pregnant. And a birth parent can legally change her mind. You want an agency with a good reputation, an attorney that has experience, and good counseling, he says.


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3.   Know your state law
“You have to know the law of your state,” Johnson says. The laws for how to do an adoption, who can arrange one and who can adopt are all determined by state legislatures. You have to know your state laws to protect yourself and understand what is permissible.

Johnson says: Consult an adoption professional for guidance and follow their advice. 


Laws and policies: https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/

State laws on adoption: https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/adoption/

State laws on child welfare: https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/permanency/

Federal laws: https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/federal/

4.   Don't lose sight of the goal of being parents
All the ups/downs and challenges will be worth it when you adopt, Johnson says.  


This is a link for expectant parents considering making an adoption plan (prospective birth parents): www.ichooseadoption.org

Adoptions from foster care: