You’ve decided to adopt, now what?

Adoption represents an incredible and exciting journey for people intent on creating or building a family. People choose adoption for many reasons. You even hear on the news of celebrities adopting from foreign countries and making the news.  If you have decided that adoption is the right choice for you, this decision inevitably raises many questions and concerns. There is much you will need to know about adoption.

The adoption process in the United States is very important for the child and the adoptive parents. The government does have rules and regulations that control the way that adoption is handled. There are approximately 35,000 domestic adoptions that occur during the year of newborn babies and children. Many children are put into foster homes before they are adopted. The foster parents then usually will elect to adopt the older child after they have kept the child in their home for a short period.

Ways to gather information if you want to adopt a child

There are several ways to gather the information that you need: you can contact private companies that specialize in personalized adoption consulting and educational seminars. You can also contact one of several adoption agencies active through out the United States (Catholic Services, Christian Adoption Services, Bethany among many others) or your local foster agency.

Deciding whether private or government adoption is the best route for your family is an important first step. If you prefer to adopt an infant, private adoption may be the best choice. If you would like a child or sibling-group that is older, or a child with special needs, then government or international adoption may be the way to proceed.

The adoptive parents between the ages of 25 to 45 years old usually do not have such a long wait to be able to adopt a child. Older parents and single are able to adopt children but usually must wait a longer period.  Most birth mothers will select a couple to adopt their child rather than a single parent. They also prefer families that have no children or no more than two children in the family. Most privately adoptive children are newborn babies.

Is International Adoption The “Right” Choice for Me?

If you haven’t previously considered international adoption, perhaps now is the time to explore this alternative. Adopting a child from a country other than the United States can be spiritually and emotionally rewarding but it can also come with challenges. Choosing which country, and deciding on the age of a child desired, can be difficult. Infant adoption is not common in most international adoption. Usually the youngest adoptable children from developing countries are toddlers, with a majority of the children between 3 -12 years of age. You must consider that international adoption represents much more than simply “rescuing” a child from a poverty-stricken country. International agreements and conventions are in place to ensure that children do not become commodities and that adoption occurs to ensure that the needs of the child are considered before those of the adopting families. The implication of removing children from their original birthplaces, regardless of their economic circumstances, is not a small matter.

Families considering international adoption need to reflect on their readiness and willingness to participate in inter-racial and/or inter-cultural families and how to deal with the potential of racism and discrimination. Once you have decided that international adoption is the right choice for your circumstances, you will need to hire an adoption agency to help you prepare your application. This includes attending an international adoption seminar; having a home assessment report completed; a dossier prepared, and many other documents that may need to be completed and potentially translated.   In international adoption, the adoptive parents are responsible for costs associated to: adoption education training and home assessment reports, preparation of supporting documents and notarization, authentication and verification of signatures, translation, courier fees, immigration fees, child’s medical, agency fees in the child’s country, travel and accommodations, adoption finalization, legal fees and post placement reports. The average length of time associated with an international adoption is twenty-four months with an average cost in the range of $31,000.

Perhaps You Have Considered Local Private Adoption

There are typically two types of private domestic adoption: private agency adoption or private direct placement adoption. You can employ the services of a private adoption agency your local state government agency. You may also be fortunate enough to connect with someone who is pregnant and chooses you to adopt their child (private direct).

Domestic adoption can be just as daunting as adopting internationally, but it is not as costly. Only a licensed adoption agency can facilitate an adoption. So, your first task is deciding which agency to employ. After completing the application you must attend the pre-adoption seminar, pay the required fees and complete the necessary documents. Once the agency has approved your application, a social worker will be assigned to meet with you and complete a home assessment report. When your home assessment is approved by the agency, your names will be placed on a waiting parents list. When you are chosen or otherwise matched with birthparents, a meeting will be arranged. When the child arrives, and after the necessary documents are signed (guardian’s consent to the adoption), you are usually able to take the baby home from the hospital.  Depending on your local there is likely to be a mandatory revocation period where the birth mother can change her mind – its often a couple days to several weeks depending on the state.  This occurs in approximately 5% of the cases.

After the time period has passed, the adoption agency will begin preparing the adoption application for approval by the court. A social worker will visit with you and complete a post-placement report, which will be filed with your adoption application. It can take the courts several months to finalize an adoption. When the adoption is granted, you will receive a certified copy by mail. A family can be placed with a child through domestic adoption as quickly as within a few months of their application or it can take several years. The average cost of a domestic adoption is $11,000 to over $30,000 depending on agency and circumstances.

If the birthparent decides on a family that they have already met, and subsequently places the child or children with this family, this is referred to as a private direct placement.   The next step involves the adoptive family contacting a representative to assist in the legal requirements and in the filing of the adoption in order for the adoption to be granted in the court.

Is There Anything Else That I Need to Consider?

Adopting a child is an amazing way to build or augment a family but the adoption process can also take a toll on couples, so please join a support group and meet families who are also adopting or who have adopted previously. Adoption laws also change, especially with respect to international adoptions, so please stay informed and stay connected. Learn about open adoption; most adoptions are now considered to be open. Remember that adoption is about creating and building families; it is for the love of the children.