There are two main types of adoptions: Domestic (adopting a child in the U.S.) and International Adoption (adopting a child from another country). There are Private Adoptions (facilitated through an attorney or adoption agency) or adoption through the State (Foster Care System). There are Open Adoptions, Closed Adoptions, Interracial Adoptions, Adoptions by a family member or stepparent, even adoptions by an older sibling. For first- time adoptive parents, it can be overwhelming. While all adoptions have certain aspects in common, the steps to adopting internationally can be quite different from domestic adoption. This book is intended to give you an overview of the different paths of Domestic Adoption, with a special emphasis on Adoption through the State, also known as the Foster Care System.
There are many roads to adoption, and each family’s journey is unique. I hope this book will help to clarify which is the right path for you and your family. Wishing you an amazing journey!
1. Learn about The History of Adoption
Adoption has been around for a long, long time. It has been around since the beginning of time. Jesus was adopted. So was Moses, and so were Aristotle, Edgar Allen Poe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, EarthaKitt, Jesse Jackson, President Bill Clinton, John Lennon, Steve Jobs, Halle Berry, Demi Moore, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, just to name a few.
2. Learn that Adoption Is Everywhere
Also, more individuals have been touched by adoption than most people realize. Over 100,000 children are adopted each year in the U.S. Half of these are adopted by people not related to them, and half are adopted by relatives such as grandparents. Stepparents are the largest group of adoptive parents. In addition, there are millions of adopted persons in the United States. More than half of all Americans either were adopted, or had a family member or friend who was touched by adoption in some way (as an adoptee, or adoptive parent, or placed a child for adoption.)
3. Know that Adoption Can be Personal
Adoption is a very personal decision. When deciding to adopt, it is a private matter between you and your spouse. You don’t need the opinions of everyone around you. Would you consult your friends before deciding to become pregnant? If you are a single parent, however, it might be helpful to have the support of your older children. Not their permission, just their support.
4. Ask Yourself These Questions Before You Adopt
When deciding whether adoption is right for you, some things to consider are: Do you understand what it takes to be a parent or an adoptive parent? Are you ready for this lifetime commitment? Will your lifestyle be conducive to raising a child, or can you make it conducive? What age child would you like? Do you already have children, and if so, what age child would you hope to adopt?
5. Become Educated
The first thing prospective adoptive parents should do is learn about the different types of adoption. There are 2 main types of Domestic Adoptions: Private Adoptions, which take place through a lawyer or adoption agency, or adoptions through the Child Welfare (Foster Care) system. Out of these, adoptions may be either open (with contact between adoptive and birthparents); or Closed, with no contact after the adoption is finalized. Once you have learned to differentiate between the types of adoption, you are able to assess which direction you feel is best for you, your family, and your future child.
6. Take A Chance
When people have considered against adoption, one of the main reasons is they are afraid of the possible emotional or behavior problems down the road. But nothing is guaranteed, either with a biological or adoptive family. Most people who decide in favor of adoption realize that they love and give a child has more to do with a successful happy life than biology alone. And adoption of a child is definitely a chance worth taking. People who have adopted describe it as the best thing they have ever done.
7. Build A Network
Once you have decided to adopt, begin building a strong network of family and friends. All new parents and their children will benefit from the support of a close circle of family and friends, especially single parents and first time parents. It can also be extremely helpful for adoptive parents to have the expertise and understanding of other adoptive parents. Other adoptive and pre-adoptive parents are often your best resource. Most are very happy and willing to share their adoption journey with you, and more than anything, they understand the ups and downs of the adoption journey.
8. Learn The Language Of Adoption
Adoption has a language of its own. Learning the correct terms will help you to navigate your adoption journey, and will help when speaking with adoptive families. Words such as “Homestudy, Special Needs and Subsidy will soon become part of your vocabulary. And we soon learn that there are some times you soon learn never to say to an adoptive family. For example, don’t refer to the biological children in a family as the ‘real’ children; the adoptive children are just as ‘real.’ The same goes for referring to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents are the ‘real’ parents; they are the ones who are raising and parenting the children, and they are quite ‘real.’
9. Investigate The Laws
Learn about the Adoption laws in your state. A good place to start is your state’s website, which will have links to adoption laws and regulations. Sometimes people tend to be wary of adoption because they have heard “horror stories” where an adoption is later reversed. These tragic stories are in the news because they are so rare. Once an adoption is finalized, it cannot be reversed, unless it was done illegally. Make sure you have a good adoption lawyer to make sure the adoption is done legally. State agencies are particularly careful to abide by the law in each adoption case.
10. Understand the Costs of Adoption
You don’t have to have money to adopt. In most cases, you don’t even have to own your own home. You do have to be able to provide for the needs of a child including a home, permanence, stability, and a family. The cost for adoption through a private agency or a private adoption through an attorney is usually between $25,000 to $35,000. Adoptions through the Foster Care system usually have no cost.
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