First steps when wanting to adopt a baby... Research!
The first step to take when wanting a baby is to research a LOT. There's a ton to learn about adoption before deciding to take the leap.
There's a surprising number of people who give up adopted children which I think is really sad. I think proper research and understanding what trials and joys come with adoption could cut down on this.
Of course, there are the obvious things to research like adoption agencies, but I think more than that, if you're not already a parent... Research what it actually takes to be a mom. Go find other moms, especially adoptive moms, and see what sorts of things they go through. Get a feel for how much time parenting takes and the emotional toll raising a human being can take on you. But learn about the joys too... Learn about the moments that make it worth it. Maybe spend some time with your friends children so you can learn more about childcare. But, remember, watching kids is not the same as having your own. Talk to happy moms and frustrated ones. Learn child safety. Learn how to bond.
I think this is one of the most important decisions you can make, to become responsible for raising someone else, so you want to go into it armed with as much knowledge as you can.
As far as the actual adoption goes, learn about the different types of adoption. Do you want to adopt a child under a closed or open adoption; as in, do you want the biological mother/parents to be involved? How much?
Do you want to adopt from within your country or from another one? Do you have your heartset on a baby or would you adopt a toddler? What about an older kid?
Are you willing to foster parent first? Have you looked into how much adoption costs the way you want it? Do you know the necessary prerequisites?
There are lots of questions to start researching, plenty I'm sure I didn't even mention. I'd spend a long time on Google learning everything I can and certainly wouldn't jump into this decision.
Beyond that, make sure to keep an open line of communication with your partner too, if you have one. He or she will likely have questions and input also, and you don't want to bring a kid into a home with resentment, arguments, or lack of communication. Make sure you and your partner come to a consensus on all the major decisions and learn where the other is willing to compromise and where they feel they must stand their ground.
This sort of communication and respect will be vital to raising a happy, healthy child if you both are to participate. So, make sure your relationship is in a stable good place before embarking on the adventure of adoption.
Adoptive and adopted moms, what advice do you have on starting this process?
Have any of you out there thought about adoption? Where did you start?