How Should I Adopt?

Domestic Independent

  • Adoptive parents recruit birth mother
  • Private attorney does legal process
  • Licensed social worker does home study

Domestic Agency

  • Adoption agency recruits birth mother
  • Agency matches adoptive family with a child
  • Agency does home study (may refer out to a local agency)

International Agency

  • Adoption agency has contacts abroad, working directly with orphanages or child welfare bureaus in foreign countries
  • Agency assists with dossier and INS documentation/paperwork required by foreign country
  • Agency does home study (often refers out to a local agency)

Public Agency (DPW/County Children & Youth/Foster Care)

Statewide Adoption Network (SWAN)

  • Resource for adopting Pennsylvania’s children
  • Available for adoption: children in foster care for whom termination of parental rights has been (or is about to be) obtained

What are the Requirements?

  • Home study (pre-placement); post-placement report prior to finalization of adoption
  • Adoption agencies must be licensed and approved by state Department of Public Welfare
  • International agencies are licensed both by State DPW and by foreign country
  • Home study by licensed social worker

What is the First Step in Adoption?

If you have chosen what avenue to adoption you will use, the first step is finding an agency with whom you are comfortable working. You can do this by visiting the Administration for Children and Families web site and reviewing agencies in your area, or you can contact us at info@jfsofhbg.org. If you are not sure which avenue is best suited for your family to adopt, begin by reviewing the different avenues to adoption. See FAQ “How should I adopt?” Or contact us for more information at info@jfsofhbg.org.

Can I Afford to Adopt?

Adoption costs vary greatly. Below is a general comparison of costs depending on the type of adoption you are considering. Also included are AdoptionLinks costs and links to other resources. For more information contact us at info@jfsofhbg.org.

Comparison of Costs and Time Frames for Adoption

Domestic Newborn Adoption:
$20,000 – $50,000 and up paid to agency or lawyer for independent adoption. It takes on average 2 years from submission of home study to identification and matching with a birth mother.

International Adoption:
$15,000 and up paid to international agency, plus cost to travel to the child’s country of origin. The wait between submission of home study and dossier to the child’s country of origin can vary from six (6) months to two (2) years. Some countries require two (2) trips to the country of origin.

SWAN Adoption:
Nominal cost, most fees covered by state funds. Once the training and home study are complete, the matching process can take 6-18 months.

AdoptionLinks Fee Schedule

Home Study: $1700 (Free for SWAN Adoption)

Post-Placement Supervision: $300/visit, and $50 for each additional child on the same report

Updating a JFS Study: $500

Updating Another Agency’s Study: $750

Parent Preparation Group (8 Sessions): $150 (*Free for SWAN Adoption)

Other Resources for Financial Information

  • Administration for Children and Families (General Information)
  • Internal Revenue Service Publication 968 (Tax Information)

What are the Steps in the Adoption Process?

  1. Agency Selection
    • Depending on the type of adoption, different agencies are experts in different avenues of adoption. AdoptionLinks has a positive working relationship with many other agencies.
  2. Application Process
    • After selecting an agency, you will complete an application to begin the adoption process. You will attend an orientation session. The orientation process describes realistic expectations of adopting a child.
  3. Completing the Home Study
    • The Home Study is a document created through a series of meetings between you and an adoption professional. These meetings will give you an opportunity to gain better insight into the challenges of adopting a child. Your family must be approved by the home study agency before the matching process can begin.
  4. Matching Process
    • The approved Home Study is used to share information about your family with agencies responsible for the waiting children.
  5. Pre-Placement Visitation
  6. Placement of child in your primary care
  7. Placement Supervision prior to court hearing
  8. Adoption Finalization

*Note: Steps 5-8 vary depending on the type of adoption

Can I Get Help After the Adoption is Finalized?

YES! Pennsylvania has Post Permanency Services that are available to any family who has adopted and is currently living in Pennsylvania. The services include Assessment, Case Management, Advocacy, Respite, and Support. You can access these services by calling the HelpLine at 1-800-585-SWAN, and they will refer you to a local agency provider.