Adoption is a life-changing choice for prospective parents looking to build their family. Whether you are just beginning to consider adoption, preparing to begin the process, or simply looking for information out of curiosity, you should understand that it is a complex process.
As you begin to explore the world of adoption, you will want to be as prepared and educated as possible. This is a list of the basic but important facts you should know before you decide to begin your adoption journey.
- There is a lot of paperwork
At the beginning of your adoption process, you’ll be receiving documents in bulk – applications, questionnaires, forms, brochures, instructions, and more. It can be frustrating and overwhelming at first, but just remember that it’s all necessary to make sure that your adoption goes smoothly. When you hold your baby for the first time, you’ll know that all the work you did went into making that happen.
- It can take a long time
Adoption doesn’t happen overnight, so be prepared to invest a lot of time. Depending on your situation, there are a number of factors that can take a while – particularly if you’re waiting to be matched with a birth mother. However, you can speed up your wait time by being as flexible to as many birth mothers’ situations as possible, including the race of the child, amount of openness you are willing to share, and more.
- You will need to prepare your home
In order to be eligible to adopt, you must pass a home study, which is an assessment of your home and family. The home study is one of the most crucial steps of the adoption process, and it ensures that your family and home are safe and welcoming for a child. During the home study process, multiple background checks will be conducted, and a social worker will visit your home to interview you and give you tips on how to better child-proof your home.
- You can adopt through an agency or independently
Adoption agencies provide a number of services, which can include matching, consultation, legal counsel, and placement services. In an independent adoption, the adoptive family and the birth parents are usually matched without the help of an adoption professional. In some cases, an adoption attorney can assist with matching.
There are many companies that can provide various adoption services depending on your needs. However you choose to pursue adoption, though, you must have an adoption attorney and an agency to complete a home study.
- Financial assistance is available
Many potential parents are deterred from pursuing adoption because they are daunted by the financial challenge. The costs of finding a birth mother, medical and legal fees, living expenses and more can add up. There are, however, a number of resources to provide assistance, including the federal adoption tax credit, employer benefits, loans and grants, and more. If you are struggling with affording a private adoption, you may want to look into other options, such as foster care adoption.
- Adoptions aren’t just open or closed
In fact, a large majority of adoptions today fall under a category known as “semi-open.” This type of adoption plan looks a little different for every family because it is tailored to the needs and desires of both your family and the birth family.
The type of adoption relationship is ultimately an agreement between you and the birth mother on what kind of contact you want to have. That can involve anything from pictures on the holidays to occasional phone calls to weekly visits. If you look at closed adoption as one end of a spectrum and open adoption as the other end, then semi-open adoption is everything in between.
- Birth mothers and families aren’t matched at random
It comes as a surprise to some that the birth mother often decides with whom the baby is placed. Some families go into adoption with a previously established relationship with the birth mother, while most other families need help finding a birth mother.
If you’re working with an agency, you will fill out a questionnaire that specifies what you are looking for in your adoption plan. If you want a child of a specific gender, or if you do not want a child with a certain health background, this is where you will make that known. However, keep in mind that the more selective you are, the longer you may have to wait as your options of possible situations is more limited.
After you have worked with a social worker and formalized your adoption plan, your information will be shown to prospective birth mothers for consideration.
She is choosing adoption to ensure a good life for her child, and by carefully selecting an adoptive family, she can rest easy knowing she made the right choice—and you can feel assured that you were picked for a reason.
- The birth mom cannot take her baby back
Many prospective parents fear that a birth mother will reappear at some point with the intention of reclaiming her baby. While the birth mother can change her mind at any point in the adoption process, after the baby is born and she has terminated her rights, that action is irreversible. At that point, you should not be afraid of losing your child or your status as a parent.
- Families of all kinds can adopt a child
Many people think that only a specific kind of family has a chance at adopting a child, but that is simply not the case. Same-sex couples, single parents, and all manner of non-traditional families have successfully adopted; a loving home can take many forms, and there are resources to help diverse parents build their families.
- You’re going to be a family
Your definition of “family” may change as you go through the adoption process. Upon being matched with birth mothers, many families grow to see them as an extended family member, especially if they play an active role in the child’s life. But more importantly, when you adopt, you will realize your dream of being parents. It will not matter how you became parents—it will only matter that you did.