Step-by-Step Adoption Guide


1 Register with WHFC Complete and submit the WHFC Registration Form with the registration fee. If you have adopted with us before, return the form only (the registration fee is waived).
2 Submit your completed application Once we receive your registration, we will send application materials. After you submit the documents needed to begin and the required fee, we will contact you to discuss the pre-adoption education requirements, home study and program selection process.
3 Complete your pre-adopt education, home study and program selection All applicants must complete more than 10 hours of pre-adoption education classes. Topics include short and long-term adjustment, acceptance of your child by family and the community, and medical and legal concerns.

All states also require families to complete a home study with a licensed social worker. The goal is to learn more about you, discuss the adoption choices open to your family and exchange ideas and concerns about parenting. Your home study will take a few months to complete, and you will be asked to gather supporting documents, including a criminal background check. We will also provide detailed information on the country or countries you are interested in adopting from and the paperwork requirements. You will have the opportunity to speak with our program coordinators and families who have adopted from these countries about their experiences.

4 Complete your US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing A completed I-600A or I-800A form will need to be submitted to USCIS as soon as you receive written instructions from WHFC. Forms are available from a USCIS office or can be downloaded at You will then receive an appointment for fingerprinting, required for FBI clearance, within 3-6 weeks. Final approval takes 3-4 months on average. Not applicable for children born in the US.
5 Assemble your dossier or profile Most countries require families to submit a dossier, a set of documents mandated by foreign officials before an adoption can move forward. Once we receive your completed dossier, including USCIS approval, your documents will be sent to our overseas partners for review. If your dossier is accepted, you will be placed on the list of families waiting for the referral of a child. You will prepare an adoptive family profile, including a letter and series of photographs, for birth parents to review. Our domestic team will also work with you to understand the types of situations you are open to.
6 Accept your child’s referral We will contact you once we receive your child’s referral, which can include a brief medical report, social history and photograph(s). The information and level of detail you receive will depend upon the country you are adopting from. You should consult with a physician or international adoption clinic familiar with the health and adjustment issues of children adopted from the country you have chosen before making your decision. WHFC will present your profile to expectant parents considering adoption, and you will be notified when there is a possible match.
7 Welcome your child home! You will travel to pick up your child. Upon your return to the US, it is important to contact your social worker within 24-48 hours of your arrival home. In many cases, adoptive parents are able to receive their child directly from the hospital.
8 Complete all post-placement requirements On average, you can expect to meet with your social worker at least 3 times within the first 6 months of your child’s arrival. In fact, actual post-placement reporting requirements vary by state and/or the child’s country of birth, and can range from 6 months to several years.
9 Legalize your child’s adoption in the US We encourage you to legalize your child’s adoption in your state of residence, even if the adoption was finalized overseas. This gives both you and your child the added protection of US law. In fact, adoptions from some countries MUST be finalized through your state court system following the child’s arrival in the US. All children are granted US citizenship after their adoptions are full and final. After the mandated post-placement period, WHFC or your placing agency will assist you in finalizing your child’s adoption.


Wide Horizons For Children
375 Totten Pond Road, Suite 400, Waltham, MA 02451
Phone: 800-729-5330


© 2017 Wide Horizons For Children Inc. All rights reserved.Wide Horizons For Children is dedicated to the well-being and security of orphaned and vulnerable children globally

Wide Horizons For Children is a 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are tax deductible to the full extent allowable under the law.


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