Deciding to Adopt
Deciding whether or not to adopt is one of the most important choices you can make in your adult life. It's a choice that will ripple through your family, your community, and ultimately, society in general. You need to consider the options available to you and weigh them for yourself.
Considering How to Build a Family
You may be faced with a choice between assisted conception and adoption. Many families turn to adoption when they are unsuccessful conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to full term. Some parents know in their hearts they are meant to adopt children and never even consider pregnancy. Whatever path brings you to adoption, the decisions are yours alone, and in the eyes of adoption agencies, it is irrelevant what has brought you to consider adoption.
Choosing the Right Time
As you ponder your decision, you may ask, “When is the best time for me to adopt?” The answer will depend on your stage of life and your family's particular situation. If you have been yearning for a child for years and have no other children presently in the home, you may want to start the process as quickly as possible. If you already have small children, you should reflect on how soon the family will be able to adjust successfully to an additional family member.
It is important to consider the current needs of any existing children in your family; strong-willed children need closer supervision than more cooperative children. Many families with positive adoption outcomes report that they waited until their challenging children were old enough to be helpful before taking on a special needs infant or child.
If you have significant personal events going on in your life at the moment, consider the drain these changes have on your attention and energy. Adopted children, even infants, often need a longer adjustment period than biological children and might require changes in your work schedule or ability to return to work. You might find that right now is not an ideal time for you to adopt.
Financial Concerns and Considerations
Like many people, you may be under the impression that adopting a child always costs tens of thousands of dollars. The cost depends on which type of adoption you choose: private adoptions in which you support a birth mother through her pregnancy and delivery, and pay legal and agency fees, home-study costs, and so on can cost upward of $25,000; an international adoption may cost even more because of travel and bureaucratic complications. Adopting a child from a public agency (foster care) is much less expensive in initial costs.
Some states offer forms of financial help, and you may qualify for programs such as:
African American Adoptions Online
Christian World Adoptions
Building Families Fund
Employer adoption expense reimbursement programs
State payments to help care for a special needs child you adopt
Federal adoption tax credits
If you are involved in a kinship adoption (adopting a child who is a relative, see Chapter 2 for more information), you may only need to cover simple legal fees or may qualify for assistance from states who want to keep your relative's child out of the foster care system.
Want more information on where to find financial help for adoption? If you type “Financial Resources for Adoption” into your Internet search engine, more than two million possibilities will pop up.
Keep in mind that actually raising your adopted child will cost whatever it would have cost if she had been born to you. It's important to understand the financial impact a child will have on your family. Most families find that the joy a child brings is worth much more than the money it costs to raise her. Adopted children can have emotional difficulties that require special services. Whatever the reason, it is important to understand that providing the necessary services to address the emotional problems can make significant demands on a family's finances.
Foster Care as an Inexpensive Option
If you don't have a lot of money, yet have a strong desire to give a child a permanent family, you can go through the licensing process to become a foster adopt home. Foster parents are paid monthly stipends to help cover some of the cost of caring for foster children.
Being a foster parent means you must accept that the children who come into your home may not stay, and may eventually be reunited with their parents or relative. Every year, tens of thousands of children cycle into the foster care system, with 500,000 remaining in foster care. Many of these children are adopted, and as the foster parent, you are in a good position to adopt the child you have fostered.