You can adopt a child by working with a private adoption agency or with your local foster-care system. Regardless of the type of adoption, adoptive families must go through a background check and a home-study to determine if they are an appropriate match for a child.
If you privately adopt a newborn, you often are able to meet the mother prior to the birth. Most private adoption agencies provide pregnant women with photographs and biographies of potential adoptive families, allowing the birth mothers to choose the family. Some birth mothers choose an open adoption, which means they stay in contact with the adoptive family throughout the child's life. This contact can include an exchange of photographs, phone calls or in-person visits. If a birth mother desires an open adoption, the potential adoptive parents must agree to this option early in the adoption process. Birth mothers often allow adoptive parents to attend the baby's birth, although they must wait at least 48 hours after birth to sign the adoption paperwork.
When a child is adopted out of foster care, the governing agency usually requires potential parents to attend an orientation meeting and a training session. AdoptUSKids notes that it usually takes about one year to finalize the adoption of a foster child.