After dominating the headlines, canceling events and even shutting down The Happiest Place on Earth, coronavirus is now at the forefront of millions of Americans’ minds. The outbreak has affected nearly every aspect of life — and, for many waiting families, that includes adoption.
If you are a hopeful parent in the middle of the adoption process, you’re probably anxious about how this global health concern could affect you — and the child you are hoping to adopt. Here, we are providing some basic information about COVID-19 and how the virus could potentially impact your adoption.
Please keep in mind that we are not medical professionals, and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor with any medical concerns. Because this is a rapidly developing situation, please visit the World Health Organization for the most up-to-date information.
The Potential Effects of COVID-19 on Adoption
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continues to rise, many families are starting to see an impact on their adoption processes. You should speak directly with your adoption professional about any changes to their policies or procedures and for more information about how coronavirus could affect your specific circumstances. Here, we have provided just a few potential scenarios that could happen if you are adopting during the coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus could impact your adoption if you are:
- Adopting internationally – Families adopting from China were among the first to feel the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. International adoption agencies began canceling travel for adoptive families as early as January, and as the virus has spread around the globe, more and more adoption programs have been experiencing delays and suspending their services. At this time, it is unclear how long these delays in international adoption may last. Adoptive parents should coordinate directly with their adoption service provider for guidance and information.
- Visiting a hospital for placement – Hopeful parents who are traveling to the hospital for an adoption opportunity with a prospective birth mother may face new restrictions as the spread of COVID-19 continues. Hospital policies are subject to change quickly and will likely vary from one hospital to the next. However, families should be prepared for potential limitations on the number of visitors allowed, reduced visiting hours and/or restrictions on visiting certain parts of the hospital. Potential birth and adoptive parents should continue to communicate with their adoption professionals about any changes in the hospital plan.
- Flying with a newborn – While there are currently no travel restrictions within the United States, some families pursuing domestic infant adoption have struggled to obtain the medical clearance necessary for them to fly home with their babies. Because of this, families traveling for an interstate adoption placement should be prepared to drive home with their newborns following ICPC. Consult with your doctor and the airline for more information on their specific policies.
- Adopting in the U.S. while living overseas – American citizens who are stationed abroad may also face challenges and delays in their adoptions from the U.S. Because of the new restrictions on travel from Europe, it may be difficult for families in certain countries to travel back to the U.S. for placement. These families should work with their adoption agency to understand whether they will be able to accept an adoption opportunity in the U.S. while travel restrictions are in place.
- Awaiting ICPC or finalization – ICPC clearance may be delayed for some adoptive parents, as some government offices may be impacted by the coronavirus. Similarly, court dates may be postponed for some adoptive families during this time. Reach out to the adoption agency or attorney who filed ICPC on your behalf and/or your finalizing attorney for any updates on the estimated timelines for these processes.
- Exhibiting symptoms – Regardless of the type of adoption they are pursuing, any adoptive parent exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus should notify their adoption professional immediately. The CDC is urging people who have symptoms of a respiratory illness to contact their healthcare providers and to stay home to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus. As such, any parent exhibiting symptoms should immediately contact their adoption professional and delay all adoption-related travel until a doctor confirms they can safely travel without spreading the illness.
What Should Adoptive Parents Do?
For many hopeful parents, the coronavirus can feel like one more unexpected development in a process that is already largely out of their control. However, there are a few things every adoptive parent can and should do during this time to put their minds at ease and keep themselves as healthy as possible:
- Follow CDC guidelines: All adoptive families, regardless of the type of adoption they are pursuing or where they are in the process, should continue to follow CDC guidelines and protocols to protect themselves and help reduce the spread of the virus.
- Communicate with your professionals: If you have specific questions about your agency’s policies on the coronavirus or how it may impact you in your specific circumstances, contact your adoption professional. In addition, you should communicate any developments in your own health or your adoption process to your professional as quickly as possible.
- Talk to your doctor: If you experience any symptoms of coronavirus (fever, tiredness, cough, etc.), you should contact your healthcare provider to determine next steps for receiving care. If you are concerned that your child or a prospective birth parent has been exposed to the coronavirus or is experiencing symptoms, your doctor can also address those concerns and educate you about any potential risk to your child.
- Stay up to date: Finally, remember that this is still a developing situation, and hospital and adoption agency policies could change at any time. Continue to follow the CDC and WHO for the latest information.