Show Hope : How To Adopt

Adoption tools for building bridges of hope by linking willing families with wanting children

Educate Yourself

Beginner's Guides to Adoption

You have already started educating yourself with the information you have read so far in this guide. Early on in the process, it is best to read information free from bias. It is our intention to provide prospective adoptive families with general adoption information in order to help you assess the type of adoption which is right for you without a bent towards a particular adoption agency, facilitator, type of adoption, country from which to adopt, or age of child. We have identified a number of beginner's guides to adoption, on-line courses, websites, and supplemental materials.

The recommended beginner's guides do overlap in many respects, but each provides its own unique perspectives on adoption. Shaohannah's Hope strongly recommends that you start your education with at least one or two of these beginner's guides because these resources will help you to gain an understanding of the nuances and many facets of adoption. These guides are listed in the chart below along with an informative course that you can take (free of charge) from Adoption Learning Partners.

Beginner's Guide to Adoption
U.S. Dept. of H.H.S.
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC)
(all types of adoption) - download PDF
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
(Foster Care Adoptions) - learn more
NAIC Guide in Spanish - click to read
On-line Beginner's Course on International Adoption
Adoption Learning Partners
"Eyes Wide Open: Preparation Guide to International Adoption" - click to read

In addition to the guides and the online course, you will want to do the following to get informed:

  • Conduct research through the web
  • Talk to Adoptive Families about their triumphs and trials in the process. Learn from those who have gone before you. One good way to meet several families with a variety of adoption experiences is to attend meetings of a local adoptive parent support group. For a list of support groups in your area, contact the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). Another way is to attend an adoption conference in your state or region, or a national conference such as the one sponsored each year by NACAC.
  • Talk with Child Welfare Professionals/Representatives from National Organizations or adoptive support networks which are not directly involved in child placement but are versed on the issues.
  • Hear from the Children "waiting" right here in the United States for families to adopt them. Visit: Adopt US Kids,, and Foster

Before continuing on to the self-assessment, print out one or several of the beginner's guides and read through them.

Conduct a Self-Assessment

The self-assessment is the best way to find out if you are ready to adopt.
Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Do you clearly understand why you want to adopt?
  • Are both parents committed to adoption?
  • Does your lifestyle allow you the time necessary to meet the needs of the child you are seeking to adopt?
  • How will adoption change the dynamics of your family and do you have what you need to make it work?
  • Do you have deeper issues in your marriage which you are hoping the adoption will help with?
  • Do you realize that the notion of saving an orphan and their gratitude to you for doing so is not a foundational reason on which to base an adoption? Yes, in many senses, adoption can and does save orphans from ill fates; however, expecting regular expressions of gratitude from your adopted children would be like expecting biological children to live in a constant state of gratitude for and towards their biological parents.
  • Do you have support from your nucleus family?
  • Are you called to provide/care for orphans in other ways?

Finally, do you possess these needed characteristics?

  • Perseverance and patience; nearly all adoptions involve a significant "waiting" period(s) in the adoption process.
  • The ability to accept without judging, and to love unconditionally;
  • Awareness that healing doesn't always come quickly; once the child has arrived there is usually an adjustment period. (with an older child there is often a testing period — the child will want to know if your love is unconditional.)
  • Willingness to learn new things;
  • A belief in adoption and ability to commit;
  • Open to dealing with the child's issues as if the child was a birth child — adoption is forever and adopted children must be treated as equal to biological children;
  • Resourcefulness.
  • Please know that when you adopt, you are not only providing love and a home, you are also sharing your values with a child. An examination of your belief system can help you define your own needs and be aware of your expectations.

Parenting skills are essential to successful adoptions. If you are a first time parents, and particularly if you are adopting an older children, parenting classes are worth considering.

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