The adoption process can be long, stressful, and definitely full of paperwork, so you need to find some fun and creative ways to stay organized before things get out of your control or you lose something. Even if you’re usually organized, you may struggle with keeping it all together. When you find yourself digging through your house searching for some important adoption papers, you’re going to add stress to your journey, so here are some tips for organizing adoption paperwork.

The first essential for staying organized is a scanner or copy machine. You should never let a piece of adoption paperwork leave your home without scanning it or saving a copy. Sometimes, you need to use a piece of paperwork in reference to something else. This is why it’s so important to scan or copy everything. Also, save things like monthly reports to your agency, letters you mail to your birthparents, and all the paperwork related to your adoption application, home study, etc., since every single paper is important.

It’s best to scan everything and save it to your computer, but make sure to do a regular backup so nothing gets lost. Try online- or cloud-based services for remote backups just to be sure that your adoption paperwork is safe and properly saved.

You can choose to store your adoption paperwork on your computer, but it’s also a good idea to keep hard copies of the more important documents since you can easily get lost among all those tabs and folders you'll need.

Binders are still the best tools when it comes to organizing paperwork. You won't want tons of binders either, so you’ll need to organize them as well. Purchase three-ring binders and a box of page protectors. Organize everything into sections so forms and paperwork are easy to locate or reference later on.

Divide your adoption binder into sections:

  • Adoption Professional Information: Here you can keep all the information related to the adoption professional you're working with with, including information about the organization, a copy of your adoption application, copies of all the paperwork you've completed, a copy of your adoptive family profile, and anything else.
  • Home Study: The home study is an important part of the adoption process and it involves a lot of paperwork. Include copies of paperwork given to your social worker including tax forms, financial statements, bills, and everything else there is.
  • Lawyer & Social Worker: Include a section devoted to all the paperwork involved with your dealings with your lawyer and/or social worker.
  • Finances: A financial section is extremely important since it’s crucial to write down every time you spend money. That’s important for tax purposes. Scan all your receipts since these are easy to lose. Don't forget to keep track of any travel expenses and expenses specifically related to your birthmother.
  • Birthparent Information: Keep all the information you have on your birthparents in this section. Include any communication with birthparents, pictures that you’ve exchanged, as well as documents and information about the birth parents and their medical history. This is a good place to keep information about the hospital your birthmother will be giving birth at, including directions and parking information, and your adoption hospital plan.
  • Adoption Day: The day you legally become your baby's parents in court is full of paperwork, so it's a good idea to create a separate section devoted to all the paperwork that is needed for this special event.

Always create a checklist of documents you need for each stage, and make sure that everything is properly stored. You’ll need some of the same documents for different stages of the process. So, just as you do when getting a birth certificate and marriage licenses, get at least three copies of more important documents when possible.