Looking into adoption as a way to build your family? This article can serve as a starting point to understand what your options are and what are some of the key things to think about.
Thinking about Adoption
So you’re thinking adoption might be a possibility for building your family. That means it’s time for some homework.
There are several resources available to help you decide if adoption is right for you. From quizzes to websites to spreadsheets, a solid definition of “ready to adopt” is hard to come by, so we’ve compiled the most common questions from the top sources to help you out:
Are you ready to adopt? If you’re single, are you adopting because it’s something that you want or because of pressure from outside sources (family, friends). This child will be a major part of your life, and the choice should be yours. If you have a partner, are you both enthusiastic about adoption? Adoption is a life-long choice, one that you and your partner will have to share.Even if you want to adopt for all the right reasons, is your life ready for adoption? Are you ready to provide a stable home for your adopted child? Are you ready to love your adopted child? Every child deserves a loving, stable home. Can you provide one?
What’s the right fit? What age group is right for your needs? Are you willing to adopt sets of siblings, or only one child? Are you ready to face the emotional and physical needs of a child who may have suffered from neglect? What about a child that looks nothing like you?Your expectations of who the “right” child is may change during your adoption process, and that is perfectly normal. You aren’t “settling” for a different child, just realizing that your needs are different than you originally thought. Adoption isn’t about the child fitting your needs, it’s about you fitting the child’s needs.
International adoption involves the adoption of a child from outside your own country. The process can vary depending on the country, but here are some very basic guidelines.
There are two different types of international adoption: Hague and Non-Hague. Basically, the Hague convention is a group of countries that have agreed on certain standards within the adoption process to protect the children involved and to protect you from extortion. However, there are some countries that are uncovered by the Hague Convention, meaning that you must go through a private adoption process. Check out the complete list of differences here.
International adoption means that there is little to no involvement with the birth parents. It also means that you may not have much access to the medical history of the birth parent. You also have a more defined timeline as to when you will be able to adopt your child. You’ll need to go to your child’s birth country to be matched with them, but this is often seen as an advantage because it offers the chance for you to be more informed about the culture of your child.
Domestic adoption involves adopting from within your country. While domestic adoption is generally cheaper than international adoption, costs can depend on the type of domestic adoption. For instance, fostering to adopt will cost less than a private adoption, and costs can be based on the medical costs of the birth mother. Also, the timeline of domestic adoption in generally very vague, taking anywhere within the span of two years.
Closed vs. Open
Traditional (Closed) Adoption
Arguably the most well known type of adoption, traditional adoption means that you will have no contact with the birth parent of your child. You don’t know their name, they don’t know yours. However, like with most adoptions, you are still expected to pay for the birth mother’s medical bills, as well as most pregnancy related costs.You may have access to medical history, but that can vary case by case.
Open adoption means that you and the birth parents are enabled to keep in contact. This contact ranges anywhere from during the pregnancy, to the rest of your lives. Open adoption has slowly grown in popularity since the 1980’s, and now with social media, keeping up contact with your child’s birth parents is easier than ever before. While open adoption is growing in popularity, some adoptive families are hesitant to keep contact with birth parents because of the potentially “blurred lines” in the family.
Fostering to adopt
Fostering to adopt is a very different animal from those listed above. If you foster to adopt, you are adopting domestically, with very little to no contact with the birth parents. Since you don’t need to pay for the expenses of the birth mother, the costs are dramatically lower than the other forms of adoption. However. the process is a bit more complicated and the chances of an unsuccessful adoption are a bit higher.
Generally, the foster system is geared toward the reunification of families, meaning that if it’s between you and the birth parents vying for the child’s custody, chances are the state will rule in favor of the birth parent. However, once you’ve adopted a child, that child is legally yours and the birth parent has no claim to them. For more info on fostering to adopt, check out this article.
Overview of the Adoption Process
So you’ve decided what form of adoption is right for you and now it’s go time. So let’s check out the steps you need to take to make your adoption happen.
Step 1: Getting Help: When adopting a child, you need to get an expert involved. This can either be an adoption agency or an adoption adoption attorney.
There are two types of adoption agencies, public and private. The public adoption agency is the state agency you will go through if you are planning on fostering to adopt. A private adoption agency is licensed by the state to perform adoption and can facilitate international and domestic adoptions. There are several private adoption agencies out there, and they can range from religious to secular, non-profit and for profit.
An adoption attorney is an option for those of you who want to find the birth mother yourselves. They also offer fewer restriction on who can adopt. The adoption attorney is a more “hands-off” approach to adoption.
Step 2: The Homestudy: The homestudy is a course of meeting between you and the social worker. The social worker reviews your personal documents (i.e.driver’s license), personal references, and home to make sure you are at a point in your life where you are ready to adopt.
Step 3: Finding the right kid: This may seem like a pretty obvious step. Your agency will review what sort of adoption you are looking for and find a child that matches what you are looking for. If you are working with an adoption attorney, chances are you will be on your own for this step.
Step 4: I’ll have my people call your people…After you’ve selected the child you want to adopt, your agency will get in touch with the agency representing the child, forwarding your info and homestudy documents. If the child’s agency likes what they see, they add you to a list of potential families.
Step 5: Meeting the Kid: If you are selected, you get a chance to meet the child you’ve worked so hard. You will have at least one visit with this child to ensure that it’s a good fit. If the visits go smoothly, you receive a placement date, the date when the child will move in with you.
Step 6: Finalizing the Adoption: Once the child is placed with you, you file a petition of legal intent to adopt. You’ll receive several visits from a social worker whose job it is to make sure the placement is working out. If they believe the placement is a success, you’re petition will be granted and you’ll attend a court session to finalize your adoption.
Step 7: After the Adoption: Adoption is a decision for life, and journey doesn’t end after your court date. You’ll need to decide how to handle the tricky questions and situations that will invariably pop up during your live together. There are several adoption support groups and other resources designed to help you navigate these issues.And now as an added bonus, a list of awesome people who were adopted:
- Babe Ruth
- Steve Jobs
- Nelson Mandela
- Daunte Culpepper
- Maya Angelou
- Luke Skywalker
- John Hancock