Thinking about adopting a child? If so, you're in just the right place. We've got a checklist of everything you need to do before, during, and after the process to make your adoption go as smoothly as possible.
- Think about how you want to adopt. Do you want to go through a private agency, networking, or some other method?
- Recognize that children adopted from foreign countries will face obstacles that domestic children do not.
- Prepare your home in advance for a home visit, and for the adoption of your child.
Consider using one or more of the following to find a child to adopt:
- Private agencies – the wait may be up to ten years, usually because prospective parents are looking for a newborn and/or Caucasian infant
- Public agencies – usually your cheapest option
- Independent – prospective adoptive parents deal directly with the birth mother
- Networking – ensure your friends and associates know that you'd like to adopt and ask them to mention it to their friends and associates
- Advertising, e.g., newspapers, social media
Establish contact with the following people to help you:
- Lawyer. Make sure you hire one that specializes in adoptions; it makes it a lot easier and they will know the laws in regards to adoptions.
- Social worker. If you are using an agency, they will provide one for you.
- Adoption agency.
Be aware that many children available for adoption from foreign countries may have problems adapting to adoptive parents and may have various health problems, learning difficulties, etc. Do your research on the country that you are looking into. Remember that not all countries offer adoption to the United States; currently, for example, U.S. citizens can't adopt Russian children.
Make sure you're in the right place to adopt. Adoption is a big step, and one that can be very time-consuming and expensive. Your life needs to be in good order, or else you face rejection from adoption agencies. Make sure both prospective parents are employed, with little debt or debt that is well-managed. If you or your partner smoke, try to quit. Smoking can be a ding against you on an adoption application.
Prepare your home for a home visit. Make sure your home is clean, organized, and safe for a prospective child. Make sure you and your partner are fully prepared for the responsibility of caring for a child, including dealing with whatever health difficulties they may have.
During the Adoption Process
Get as much information as you can about the child's background to help determine if the child might be violent towards you, have learning difficulties, have health problems, etc. Determine how long the birth parents have to back out of the adoption. Research your state laws and the laws from the country that you are adopting from.
Keep in close touch with your lawyer and social worker during this time. If you have any questions or concerns about the adoption process, make sure you voice them. Remember that your child needs to be as good of a match for you as you are for them. If you feel like a prospective child isn't the right fit for you, be honest. It will be less traumatic than the child being returned to their foster home from a failed adoption.
Be aware that adoptive parents can suffer from some depression similar to post-partum depression, due to the letdown from the anticipation and from being overwhelmed by the major changes in their daily routine. Introduce the concept of adoption to the adopted child in a warm and supportive manner
Keep assuring your adopted child that:
- He/she is not different from other kids.
- He/she is secure and loved.
- You're there to support them and offer them whatever they need to be comfortable.
If your adopted child asks questions about his/her birth parents and adoption and is younger than age four:
- Listen to his/her question(s) carefully so you don't answer a question he/she didn't ask.
- Take the time to answer his/her question(s) carefully but honestly, although not in too much detail.
Understand that your child may want to know more about their biological parents as they get older, and may want to meet them if possible. Be prepared for this, and determine how you're going to handle it. However you choose to handle it, make sure you prioritize your child's needs and wants.
Introduce them to the rest of your family slowly, and at the pace that is right for them. Introducing a newly adopted child to a large number of people at once, or in rapid succession, will leave them feeling stressed and overwhelmed. If they're old enough for the conversation, talk to them about what they'd feel comfortable doing.
Understand that there's going to be an adjustment period for both you and your new child. There will likely be roadblocks and setbacks. If possible, talk to other parents who have adopted for their advice. Keep in mind, though, that every child is different. What worked for other parents may not work for you. Still, having people in your circle who have been down this road before is always an asset.