Adoption Overview – An Introduction to Adoption
If you’re thinking about pursuing adoption — whether as a pregnant woman or a hopeful adoptive parent — you probably have some questions. There’s a lot of information out there about the adoption process, but sometimes it can be tough to know where to start. This article organizes adoption information into helpful segments — from the meaning of the word to news sources to keep you abreast of the latest adoption updates.
What is adoption?
Merriam-Wester defines adopting as “to take by choice into a relationship; especially: to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child.” It sounds like a simple enough concept, but as those who are familiar with the process will tell you, there’s a lot that goes into adoption. Brushing up on adoption vocabulary certainly isn’t a bad thing, but assuming the process is cut and dry would be a mistake.
Adoption is a way to grow a family. Adoption is a way to make sure your child is loved and safe and has access to every opportunity a child should have. Adoption provides a child with a safe, loving home. Adoption is different things to different people, and it’s important to think about this as you continue on your adoption research.
What does adopting really mean?
We’ve already defined adoption, but that doesn’t really explain what it means to the different people it affects. For adoptive parents, adoption is a way to grow a family, oftentimes after a long and hurtful struggle with infertility. For a pregnant woman, adoption is a way to provide her baby with the best life imaginable when she knows she isn’t ready to provide that herself. For an adoptee, adoption means a safe, stable home and being surrounded by those that love them enough to put them first.
Put simply, adoption means love.
The History of Adoption
Adoption history can really be split into two eras: Adoption before 1851 and adoption after 1851. In 1851, Massachusetts implemented the Adoption of Children Act and effectively required judges to ensure that the adoption situations they were handling were “fit and proper.” While vague, this was the first adoption law passed to ensure the child’s best interests were top priority.
Orphan trains, which existed between 1854 and 1929 and served to take East Coast children to the Midwest and the West Coast, proved that there was still work to be done. Orphanages, which were intended to help children in need but were frequently harsh and prejudiced, highlighted still more issues.
Today, orphanages in the U.S. have been replaced by the foster care system, and 95 percent of adoptions include some degree of openness between the adoption triad. The history of adoption is certainly on the right track.
Adoption and Choices
If you’re considering adoption, you have options — no matter what position you’re in. As a pregnant woman, you’re facing several choices:
- An adoption professional to help you through the process
- An adoptive family that will provide your baby with the life you imagine for him or her
- The amount of contact you’ll have with your baby and the adoptive family after placement
As adoptive parents, you have several considerations to make as well:
- Whether you’d like to pursue domestic or international adoption
- If you choose domestic adoption, would you prefer adopting an older child from the foster care system or a baby from a private adoption agency? Or do you already know who you’d like to adopt without the help of a professional, which is an independent adoption?
Adoption options, no matter which ones you choose, give you the opportunity to create an adoption situation that’s just right for you.
Adoption News Sources
When considering adoption, it can be helpful to stay abreast of current adoption news. Aside from the Considering Adoption Blog, a few good resources to help you do so are:
All About Adoption
In 2000, nearly 2.5 percent of kids in the U.S. were adopted. Adoption is becoming an increasingly popular way to grow one’s family, but before choosing it, it’s important to know what adoption is — and what it’s not. A few things to note about adoption:
- Private domestic adoption is the adoption of an infant who was born within the United States.
- Private domestic adoption can cost between $20,000 and $50,000.
- An open adoption is a situation in which a child’s birth family and adoptive family maintain some degree of contact after the child is placed with the adoptive family. The exact degree of contact can vary depending on the relationship, but open adoptions allow adoptees open access to their histories, not to mention the love of their birth parents.
- Love is formed between parents and children through bonding experiences — not blood. So yes, adoptive parents will love their children just as much as if they were their biological kids!