Expanding your family through adoption is a beautiful thing. You’ll help a young person in need and bring them into a loving home, but there are many steps to take between now and then. Reflect on these considerations before adopting a child or teenager to ensure you’re ready for your new future.
1. Identify Your Motivations
There are many reasons why people decide to adopt kids. However, not all of them are healthy foundations for a bigger family. If you recently went through an emotional life event and believe a child would fill the void in your heart, that places a massive expectation on them before you’ve even met them. Working with a therapist or adopting a pet may be a healthier way to prepare your heart for parenthood.
If you want to adopt because you want to be a parent, dream of a bigger family or want to help someone in need, that could set the right tone for your future. Your adoption agency will walk you through this process to ensure that adoption is right for you.
2. Reflect on Your Finances
Adoption is a noble, generous step for someone to take, but it’s also expensive. Reflect on your financial situation before moving forward. You should research all potential fees and payments to better understand that people pay an average of:
- $1,000 for public agency fostering
- $30–60,000 for private agency adoption
- $25–45,000 for independent adoption
- $20–50,000 for international adoption
You’ll also need to pay for other steps within the adoption process. Your agency will charge for things like your home study, searching for potential matches, birth mother expenses for newborns, travel and legal fees.
3. Prepare for the Home Study Process
Home studies are a legally required part of adoption in the U.S. After scheduling the study, a licensed social worker travels to your home to review your living space. They note how much room you have for your future child, where you live in relation to school systems and what kind of lifestyle the child would have in your community.
During their visit, they’ll also interview anyone who lives in your household to understand the family dynamic. The information gets combined with a financial assessment and background checks. The social worker and adoption agency take an average of 90 days to determine if you’re the right fit for a child who needs a home.
It’s always best to be honest with your home study provider throughout the process. If undisclosed people live in your home, any family members have criminal histories or anyone lies about your living situation, you’ll fail the home study and may not be allowed to move forward.
4. Fill Out Your Family Book
When a parent wants to give their child up for adoption, they can browse profile books if they also want to be part of the process. The books contain essential information about families looking to adopt.
Your family book should include details like elements of your personality, what you do for fun and why you want to adopt a child or teen. The information will help the parent decide if you’ll provide a great home and a bright future for your future child.
5. Consider the Birth Parents
Sometimes people feel awkward or uncomfortable when discussing a child’s birth parents. They’re an essential part of what you should consider before adopting, so don’t shy away from conversations about them. There are legal rights the birth parents may obtain that are a crucial part of the process.
The birth mother has legal parental rights until they sign those rights away. Birth fathers must establish their paternity before they have parental rights. If both parents obtain those rights, they must sign paperwork to hand parental rights over to you unless they qualify for involuntary termination by doing things like:
- Sexually abusing their child
- Revealing evidence of long-term substance abuse
- Failing to support their child
- Showing signs of chronic neglect or abuse
Your adoption agency will help you navigate this process if the birth parents try to obtain their rights longer than necessary. They’ll know your state laws and specific circumstances that may improve or delay your adoption experience.
6. Recognize You May Need Help
Adoptions can take many months or longer than a year to complete. You’ll encounter new circumstances and challenges that might feel overwhelming as your patience begins to run dry. It’s okay to reach out for help — experts are readily available if you know who to call.
Pre-adoption counseling allows people to decide if they’re ready to become parents. Sessions will also give you the support you need to continue the process if it gets challenging. Local adoption groups and virtual communities are there to support you as well. No one has to try adopting a child alone because so many have walked the same path as you.
Consider These Factors Before Adopting
Adopting a child or teen is a significant step in your life. Pausing to reflect on these considerations before adopting will help you make the best decision. You’ll find a support system, understand what your future holds and match with an incredible child.