Adopting a child is never easy, so if you’re thinking about doing it, you should be prepared for any eventuality. The steps involved could take a while, and there might be obstacles along the way. But those who’ve gone through the process will tell you that despite the difficulties and nerve-wracking wait, it’s all worth it in the end.
Since adoption is a life-long commitment, it’s not a decision that can be taken lightly or made on a whim. Here are a few of the things you must know before adopting a child:
1. Your Motivations Matter
It would do you a world of good to examine your motivations prior to applying for adoption. Ask yourself questions regarding your intentions and answer them as honestly as you can. Determine any particular needs you might have and be forthright about them. To guide you, here are a few questions that will help you figure out the kind of adoption that’s suitable for you:
Would you be able to care for a special needs child? How about a newborn who’s been exposed to substances such as drugs and alcohol during the prenatal stage?
Prospective parents are sometimes matched with a child of a different race or background. Are you willing to address issues about interracial relationships among family members?
Do you want to care for a newborn? Would you consider having older kids? And what about a set of siblings?
You should also consider the possibility of contact between the child and the child’s birth family. Would you be comfortable with that?
2. Adoption Agencies Are A Good Option
When looking for an adoption agency, turn to the people around you first. Choosing one can be overwhelming, so it’s better to get recommendations from individuals you trust, especially if they’ve undergone the process themselves or know someone who has.
People who are looking to adopt can also search online. There are several agencies facilitating adoptions and could help you match with a child. Some lawyers also specialize in the adoption process. If you prefer international adoption, you can hire licensed professionals who can handle that matter.
3. There Are Different Adoption Paths You Can Take
Records in the U.S. Children’s Bureau show that more than 400,000 children are in the foster care system. While the government’s main intention is to eventually reunite the kids with their biological families, about a third of the children are open for adoption. If you’re considering adopting kids from foster care, you’d need to complete a home study, which would take about 20 to 30 hours.
Since every prospective adoptive parent is required to go through the home study, this could give you time to think about whether adoption is truly for you. Children are in the system for a variety of reasons. The training that may be part of the home study is educational and will help you get ready to care for a child.
For domestic adoption, you have two choices: work with an adoption agency or a lawyer. Adoption through a lawyer is known as private or independent adoption. If you take this route, it means you want to take a hands-on approach for the process. If not, you can choose an adoption agency, and they’ll do most of the work for you.
Should you decide to adopt internationally, be prepared to deal with restrictions and bureaucratic red tape. Depending on the country, there are restrictions based on age, sexual orientation, or marital status. Visit the website of the U.S. Department of State to learn more about international adoptions. There are accredited agencies that can walk you through the whole process.
You have to be aware that some state welfare agencies discriminate against people based on religion and other factors. This would make things difficult for LGBTQA+, unmarried, and single adoptive parents. Check with the All Children – All Families project of the Human Rights Campaign for agencies that have non-discriminatory policies.
4. Undergoing A Home Study Is Required
Whichever adoption process you choose, you’ll be required to agree to a home study. Typically, home studies consist of two parts: education and evaluation. You’ll be assisted by a caseworker who’ll provide whatever resources you need for the home study. The caseworker will also evaluate your suitability to be an adoptive parent.
Home studies vary depending on the agency or state, but they usually take three to six months to finish. You’ll be visited at home by the caseworker, and your health will be evaluated. They’ll ask for proof of income and health coverage as well.
5. There May Be Costs Involved
While foster care adoptions are free and could include subsidies, it’s a different story when it comes to other adoption paths. Usually, adoption costs could be anywhere from USD$15,000 to USD$50,000. International adoptions are usually on the high end of that range. However, some agencies help offset donation costs. Some employers also offer assistance programs or benefits.
There’s also the adoption tax credit, which can be up to USD$14,300. The adoption credit is available for all types of adoption: foster care, private, or international adoption. Be sure to check if you qualify for it.
Before starting the adoption process, prospective parents should ensure that they’re prepared to make this life-long commitment. There are many situations that you and your family have to be prepared for. The things listed here could help you make the right decisions regarding adoption. And if you find yourself getting frustrated because of the requirements or the waiting period, remember to be patient because there’s a kid out there waiting to become a part of your life.