There are two basic types of adoption: Simple and Judicial. Simple adoptions are those which are informal in nature, have not been recognized by any government authority and only take place domestically and usually between relatives. This practice is quite common on the African continent. In the United States, these "traditional" adoptions are very common in certain communities, particularly among American Indians, Hispanic and African Americans.
Judicial adoptions are those which are recognized by government authorities and are necessary for all international adoptions and for the vast majority of domestic adoptions as well. All judicial adoptions have a significant legal component and required documentation to be completed, such as FBI clearances, home studies, and medical and financial statements, state authorizations, CIS authorization, and the like. Click here to read about Child Welfare and the Courts. Click here to receive a DVD feature by members of the Pew Commission and parents, children, judges, lawyers and others talking about the foster care system and the courts.
Paperwork will vary not only from U.S. state to U.S. state, but from foreign country to country and even from region to region from within the countries you may be adopting. For a listing of documentation to be completed start with the Beginner's Guides and then work directly with your agency representative or attorney as it relates to your specific adoption.