Adopting a child is an exciting journey. It does, however, involve a mountain of paperwork. While organizing these documents isn’t as exciting as imagining your new life with your adoptive child, it is an essential part of the adoption process. In this guide to adoption, we’ll walk prospective parents through all of the documents, forms, and paperwork you need to create your adoption dossier, and how to organize adoption forms for a smooth and streamlined adoption process.
Here at Pillar, we specialize in helping people organize, store, and share their personal documents, and are happy to serve as your all-in-one dashboard for your adoption documents.
Must-Have Paperwork for Adoptive Parents: ‘Adoption Dossier’
When it comes to adoption paperwork, your adoption agency will be able to provide an exact list. But as a general rule, you’ll need to compile most or all of the following documents for your adoption dossier:
- A formal letter to the adoption authority
- Home study
- Financial statements
- Birth Certificate(s)
- Marriage (or Divorce) certificates
- Personal photos
- Letters of recommendation
- Form I-600A
- Forms I-171H and I-797
- Form I-600
- Form I-864
- Form I-864A
The Formal Letter to the Adoption Authority
This letter, written by prospective adoptive parents to the central adoption authority, expresses why you want to pursue adoption and provides details about the child you hope to adopt. These letters are most common in international adoptions but may be required for domestic adoptions, as well.
The Home Study
When you start the adoption process, a social worker will come to your home to interview you. After the interview, they will draw up a detailed document containing details about who you (and your spouse, if applicable) are, what you do, and why he or she believes you’re a good fit for adoption. The home study will be notarized and copied for your convenience.
Adoption can be a significant financial undertaking. To prove your financial solvency, you’ll need to provide a typed list of your financial holdings. This document should include your bank balances, assets, retirement account statements, and any other sources of income or investments you have. This document should be notarized, as well.
You and your spouse (if applicable) will need to provide certified birth certificates from the capital of the state in which you were born. For more details on how to request a certified birth certificate in each state, click here.
Marriage (or Divorce) Certificates
If you’re adopting a child with your spouse, you’ll need to obtain copies of your marriage certificate. Likewise, if you’re divorced when you begin the adoption process, you’ll need to obtain a copy of your divorce decree from your state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Most adoption agencies ask prospective parents to provide personal photos for the adoption dossier. These photos should depict the prospective parent(s) as an individual or as a couple (if applicable).
If you already have biological or adopted children, you may be asked to provide photos of them, as well. Finally, you may be asked to provide photos of your residence, including photos of the living and sleeping spaces, and the room that will be the adoptive child’s bedroom.
Letters of Recommendation and Referral
Your adoption dossier should contain reference letters from family members, close friends, or professional acquaintances, such as work supervisors. These letters should speak to your qualifications and suitability to be an adoptive parent.
For specifics on the number, source, and format of these letters, speak to your adoption agency.
Form I-600A: For International Adoptions
If you’re adopting a child internationally, you’ll need to fill out a few additional forms than prospective parents seeking a domestic adoption. One of these forms is I-600A. This form starts the process of allowing adoptive parents to bring a foreign child into the country.
Once the form is completed and approved, it remains valid for 18 months.
Forms I-171H and I-797
Once your I-600A form is approved, you’ll need to fill out Form I-171H (Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition) or Form I-797 (Notice of Action). Form I-171H states that you’ve been approved to adopt a foreign child, while Form I-797 communicates information “ related to notices of receipt, rejection, transfer, re-open, and appointment (fingerprint, biometric capture, interview, rescheduled).”
In addition to the forms above, you may also receive a Form I-600 (Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative). In your position as the adoptive parent, you’ll complete this form after you’ve obtained the adoption papers for the child.
Finalizing this document will require you to submit a variety of legal documents, including your birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decrees (if applicable), and more.
Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA) is a form you’ll fill out when it’s time to bring the adoptive child to your actual home. This form basically states that you have the resources needed to support the adopted child, both now and in the future.
Finally, there’s Form I-864A. This document, also known as the Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, is required if you’re relying on another household member to meet the financial requirements set forth by document Form I864.
How to Organize Adoption Paperwork
Whether you’ve just started the adoption process, or you’ve completed your adoption dossier and are just waiting for your life with your new adoptive child to begin, it’s important to keep all of your adoption paperwork safe, secure, and organized. Let us handle the details so you can get back to worrying about what matters most: bringing your new child home and looking forward to all the adventures to come.
Start your free 14-day trial today and learn how Pillar can help your growing family stay organized.