5 Tips for Adopting a Child
Thinking about adopting? If so, you’re in good company. According to Lifelong Adoptions, around 700,000 children are living with adoptive parents, and 100,000 children are adopted every year.
Adoption can be a great way to add a new member to your family. Perhaps you can’t conceive your own child or you simply want to help a child in need. Either way, adoption can be incredibly rewarding.
But it can also be challenging. The adoption process often takes months, and it’s not cheap. In this article, we’ll go over six things you should do to properly prepare yourself for successful adoption.
Let’s get started!
1. Decide which adoption path to take
There are different ways to go about adopting a child.
You can adopt through the foster care system. There are more than 50,000 children who are adopted this way each year. Usually, these children are older and may have suffered some trauma, neglect, or abuse in the past. As a result, foster children may have a harder time adjusting to a new home.
Alternatively, you can adopt an infant. There are two main ways to do this: You can either adopt through an adoption agency or work with a private adoption lawyer. Both can be great options.
With an adoption agency, they handle all the logistical work for you from start to finish. Working with a family lawyer requires a little more work but you also get to be more involved in the process of finding a child.
Lastly, you can also opt to adopt a baby from abroad. Just note that international adoptions tend to have stricter regulations and usually cost more.
2. Choose your adoption professionals carefully
Whatever adoption route you decide on, it’s important to choose good adoption professionals to work with.
Consider asking your family and friends for referrals. You may be surprised to learn that someone in your network has connections with adoption professionals. You can also search online directories and compare online reviews and ratings of different agencies and family lawyers.
Later on, you’ll also want to line up the right professionals to help take care of your new child. Think of a pediatrician, dentist, and maybe even a therapist.
3. Prepare for the home study
Before you can adopt a child, the state will require you to undergo a home study. This is basically a way for the state to evaluate you as a parent(s) and your home as a suitable place for a child. Caseworkers will also help train you to be an adoptive parent(s) and provide you with helpful resources to get started.
The home study can last 3 to 6 months depending on the state and agency and may include multiple visits, health exams, proof of income and health insurance, and a background check. You may also be required to provide references.
4. Decide how “open” the adoption will be
Adoptions are considered either “open,” “closed,” or somewhere in between. An open adoption refers to one in which the child still knows its biological parent(s) and has some level of contact with them, whereas, in a closed adoption, the child doesn’t know its biological parents.
The right approach for you will depend on your family and the history of the child. However, open adoptions are becoming more popular than closed adoptions these days. Why? Because information is more accessible with the internet as are DNA tests. Plus, open adoptions can have benefits for all involved: no identity crisis for the child, less separation pain for the biological parent(s), and better relationships overall.
However, if the child comes from biological parents that were abusive, you may want to pursue a closed adoption.
5. Know the costs
Finally, it’s important to know how much adoption will cost. Here’s a hint: it’s not cheap.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, adoption costs range from $20,000 to $45,000 for agency adoptions, $15,000 to $40,000 for independent adoptions, and $20,000 to $50,000 for international adoptions.
After the upfront costs, you must also consider the ongoing costs of raising a child. This could be as much as $17,000 per year. That takes into account housing, education, food, transportation, health, clothes, and more. If you’re adopting a baby, you must also factor in getting a crib, stroller, bottles, diaper bag, high chair, etc. So budget wisely.
That said, you may be able to get tax breaks through an adoption tax credit or financial help through adoption assistance programs like HelpUsAdopt.org.
If you’re still deciding whether adoption is right for you, keep doing your research. You might want to take a course, read a book, or research further online. The more you know before you dive in, the better.
Just remember that you will have good and bad days. As with life in general, adopting a child comes with its ups and downs. So practice patience and learn to let go of things you can’t control. If you can do that, you’re already off to a much better start!