Adoption is an exciting, wonderful way to grow your family. However, there are many challenges to adopting children, both during and after the adoption process. Since you intend to support and protect adopted children forever, it’s essential that you are informed and ready for the challenges ahead.
Here are five things you need to know about adoption:
Ways to Adopt
There are three different kinds of adoption. You can adopt through the foster care system, by working with an agency, or by hiring a private attorney. Each kind of adoption offers unique opportunities and benefits, and each has its own set of challenges.
Upward of 440,000 children are in the United States foster care system, but only about a fourth of those are cleared for adoption. To start the adoption process, you can contact your local foster care agency. Many adoptive parents also foster children in their homes before deciding to adopt them.
You have to submit an application to work with a domestic or international adoption agency. Upon approval, agencies will work to match you with a birth mother who likes the look of your family. There are many different adoption agencies out there, and it’s important to find one that’s trustworthy before beginning the adoption process. Unfortunately, corruption can exist throughout every level of this system.
Adoptive parents who want more control over the adoption process may choose to work with a private lawyer, both for domestic and international adoptions. This is often referred to as independent or private adoption. Families who go this route work with private legal advisors to find birth mothers and complete the adoption process on their own. Some states and countries have restrictions on this form of adoption, so it may not be an option depending on where you live.
Cost of Adoption
Depending on the model you choose, the cost of adopting can vary widely. Here’s a quick breakdown of typical adoption costs, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway:
- Adopting through the foster system: low-cost, sometimes essentially free
- Agency adoptions: between $20,000 and $45,000
- Independent adoptions: between $15,000 and $40,000
- International adoptions: between $20,000 to $50,000
Adoption costs vary widely, and your kids may require a lot of financial support after the adoption process is completed. It’s a good idea to set aside twice as much money as you think you’ll need when planning for an adoption. That way, unexpected costs will be covered, and you can focus on raising your kids.
Many modern families choose to have an “open” adoption. This means that birth mothers continue to have contact with adopted children in some form in the future. While this may sound scary to new parents, research suggests that open adoptions are a healthy way for kids and families to process identity and self-esteem issues related to adoption.
Having an open adoption can look like receiving letters from your child’s birth mother, inviting her to special events in your child’s life, or even bringing her into your larger family like an aunt or older sister. Unlike stories you may have seen on dramatic television, relationships between children and their birth mother can be peaceful, healthy, and a special way to honor the two people who have impacted your family so much.
Grief and Joy
Although adoption brings a lot of joy to families, it’s predicated on an initial loss. Whether because of death, financial challenge, or another reason, a woman has chosen to give up her baby. Fathers and grandparents are losing the future they would have had with this baby. Many if not all children also experience feelings of rejection and grief when they are separated from their biological parents.
It’s essential to acknowledge that adoptive kids will grieve the life they’ve lost even if they’re happy to be a part of your family. To help your kids adjust, find out as much as you can about their birth parents. Be open about their story, and talk about how they became part of your family.
Give them space and support to process their emotions, and consider therapy if they seem overly sad or show signs of depression. Watch yourself too, and make sure you’re getting the support you need to help your kids.
The Hardest Part
The adoption process is rigorous and challenging for many parents. While timelines vary depending on the model of adoption you choose, it can take as many as two years from start to finish before an adoption is finalized and your child comes home. Although this process is challenging, it’s not the most difficult part of adopting into your family.
The hardest part of adoption comes after the process is completed and you’re living out daily life together as a family. Parenting is hard even in the best of circumstances, and many adopted children struggle with trauma, feelings of abandonment, and physical issues. Learning to lovingly support and parent your new children will take time and commitment.
Growing Your Family
In any adoption, the most important thing to remember is that it’s all about the child. Every decision you make should be geared toward protecting and serving the child you want to adopt – before, during, and after the adoption process.
Adoption is an amazing way to grow your family, and it’s not as complicated or scary as it may seem. Use these five tips to help you get started on this incredible and life-changing journey.