Adopting a Child
Let’s Get Started
Adopting a child is a momentous and life changing decision. One of the biggest challenges facing new potential adoptive parents is coming to a realistic understanding of what adoption is all about. Most experience a learning curve, starting with a simple desire to adopt a child and ending with a more complete understanding of how adoption will effect a lasting change in the dimension of their extended family network.
The process of forming a family through adoption can be complicated, emotional and intense. It is potentially filled with both joy and sadness. At ACI you will find compassionate, honest, hardworking people who care and who will stand by you every step of the way. Many of us have lives that have been touched by adoption.
Getting started with Domestic Adoption
1. Attend an Introductory Meeting
We recommend that potential adoptive parents begin by attending one of our monthly introductory meetings. There, you will hear about the programs ACI offers for potential adoptive families.
- Traditional Adoption Placement (TAP) Program
- Agency-Assisted Adoption Placement (AAP) Program
- Home Study Program
- Waiting Child Services (WCS) Program
These meetings also cover:
- How domestic adoptions take place
- Where birth mothers come from
- The different ways that people go about pursing their dream of adopting a child
- The experience of birth mothers and children who are adopted
- The different domestic programs that ACI provides
The meetings are free and they last approximately 2 hours. Most importantly, questions are encouraged. Click here to register for a Domestic Program Introduction meeting.
2. Submit an Application
Complete an application form and submit it to our office with the Phase I fee (See Fee Schedule for more information)
3. Complete an Initial Application Interview (IAI)
- Upon receiving your application, a member of our adoption staff will contact you to schedule your IAI. This interview is conducted at our offices during regular working hours, and may last up to three hours.
- Many interviews are completed in one session, but additional interviews may be requested.
- At the IAI you will receive all required paperwork in compliance with ACI, Illinois and DCFS requirements; these include medical forms, financial forms and criminal background clearance forms.
4. Begin Adoption Education Classes
- Adoption Center of Illinois requires Infant/Child CPR certification and a minimum of 10 hours of education prior to finalizing a home study. Training must be adoption-specific and cover grief, loss, and attachment issues in adoptive parenting; birth parent and adoptive parent relationships; and parenting an adopted child. For a list of current training sessions click here.
Click on the links for information on ACI’s adoptive parent training requirements.
- Domestic Infant Adoption – Adoptive Parent Training Requirements
- International Adoption – Adoptive Parent Training Requirements
- Waiting Child Services Program – Adoptive Parent Training Requirements
5. Participate in a Home Study Interview
- Upon completion of the required paperwork, you will be assigned a Home Study Worker. This person will contact you to schedule a home study interview. The home study is an interview/education session that is conducted in your home. Home studies are generally scheduled during regular working hours, and may last up to 5 hours. Most home studies are conducted in one session, but additional interviews may be necessary.
6. Create a Family Profile Album
- In our Traditional Adoption Placement Program, expectant mothers choose families for placement. Families create an album and web profile that capture who they are, and why they want to adopt, so that an expectant mother can get to know them. Albums and profiles generally contain photos plus a letter to the birth parents that describe the family’s composition, lifestyle, home, background, and expectations of life with an adopted child.
- Albums and web profiles are available for expectant mothers to review when a family is active with ACI. A family is considered active once the home study has been approved and Phase II Program Participation Fee has been submitted (See Fee Schedule for more information)
- Albums are presented to expectant mothers whose circumstances match an adoptive family’s preferences. For example, a woman who is delivering a child who is fully Hispanic would be presented only with albums of families who are open to children who are fully Hispanic. In general, the more open a family is to various circumstances, the more often their albums will be presented.
7. Stay Engaged With ACI
- While waiting for a placement, we encourage all of our waiting adoptive parents to continue to participate in education and training classes and participate in agency events.
- We recognize that the wider the exposure, the more likely a family is to find a placement. Share your adoption plan with others (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) and explore additional marketing and outreach plans including adoption attorneys, out-of-state agencies, etc.
8. Explore Additional Options
- Remember that ACI does not guarantee a placement for any family. Our policy is to support families in all their endeavors, so we do not prohibit individuals from pursuing pregnancy, fertility treatments, independent advertising and networking, International adoption or other agency adoption programs while also being active in TAP. We simply ask families to inform us of additional pursuits.
9. Potential Placement
- If selected by an expectant parent, ACI will provide you with all available social and medication background information, as well as any known legal issues, etc.
- Prepare to participate in a match meeting with birth parent(s) and ACI staff member
- Research adoption attorney to discuss potential legal issues and a pediatrician/medical adoption specialist to review medical information
- Issues that may arise before Surrenders for Adoption are signed include involvement of prospective adoptive parents during birth and hospital stay, medical concerns, plans for temporary care of child, and an understanding that an adoptive placement is not guaranteed
- After Surrenders are signed by birth parent(s), a placement meeting will be scheduled with ACI
- Contact adoption attorney to begin adoption proceedings
- Meet with ACI staff to sign Placement Agreement and pay Phase III fees
- During the six month period before the adoption is finalized in court, post placement visits will be completed with your Home Study Worker
- Families will honor the photo and letter agreement
At ACI, we honor your questions with honest, heartfelt answers. As you face decisions about domestic or international, open or closed, same race or different race – our trained and experienced staff is there to help. We encourage you to attend an introductory class or call to schedule a private consultation.