Mississippi is known for more than just its catfish and magnolia trees. With its quiet communities, low crime rates, and affordable cost of living, Mississippi is a great place to raise a child. Fine school districts and an abundance of extra-curricular activities make it a safe, beautiful haven for families.
If you have ever thought about adoption in Mississippi, now is a great time to start. It can be a rewarding, affordable, and adventurous road. All you need is a little information, some preparation, and lots of love!
Affording Adoption In Mississippi
While adoption can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, many parents adopt children at little or no cost through the Mississippi foster care system. Expenses totaling $1,000 to $5,000 can be subsidized or reimbursed.
Adopting through a private agency in Mississippi can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on your agency location and fees. There is, however, a national adoption tax credit of $14,080 per child as of 2019. While this is not a windfall, it is money you will not have to pay in taxes once your adoption is complete. Home study fees, travel, birth mother expenses, and legal fees are all monies that can be reimbursed. Mississippi also has a state adoption tax credit of $2,500 per child.
Families with incomes below $211,160 can claim the national tax credit. Those making between $211,160 and $251,160 can claim partial credit. Those with incomes above $251,160 are not eligible.
In addition to tax credit, you can also get employer assistance for adoption. Some employers offer a flat fee per child for an adoption as they do for infertility treatments as part of their health plan. Be sure to check with your human resources department before beginning your adoption journey.
There are also many adoption grants and fundraisers available for those families looking to adopt. Some are specific to sibling groups or ages. Do a little research to find the grant program that is right for you.
Adoption In Mississippi Through Foster Care
Foster care adoption is the most affordable way to adopt in Mississippi. There are currently thousands of children in foster care, and over 30 percent of these children may not reunite with their biological families. Approximately 65 children are already free for adoption.
You do not have to become a foster parent if you would like to adopt a child who is already free for adoption. Legally single or married couples who are over 21 years old can adopt a child through foster care. They must have an income and insurance sufficient to meet the needs of an adoptive child. They also need to have the emotional, physical, and intellectual capacity to be good parents.
Those interested in adopting through foster care can contact agencies like the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, MDCPS Adoption Photolisting, A Family For Every Child Mississippi, and Child Welfare Resources: Mississippi. You will need to fill out an application and attend an orientation session.
Home Study Requirements
In order to adopt in Mississippi, you must meet certain requirements. The paperwork may seem overwhelming at first, but your work will be worth the effort.
You will need to complete agency registration forms and have medical approval from a physician. Verification of any marriages and divorces are required. There also need to be child abuse checks and police checks for every adult in your home.
You will be required to have someone verify your employment and character in writing. You will need life insurance for everyone in your family, and a plan in place in the event of a parent’s death.
Your home will get inspected for sanitation and water. You will need a phone in your home, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors. There should be transportation available. Each child must have their own bed, and children of opposite genders may not share a room.
Your home study will cover the practical and emotional concerns of adoption. You will be interviewed both inside and outside your home. Issues discussed include your reasons for adoption and parenting philosophy. This is also a good time to talk about your preferences, and what type of child would be a good fit for your family.
Adoption Through the Foster Care Process
In order to adopt through foster care, you will be required to attend a series of five-week training sessions. During these, you will cover how children come into placement, and how to explain adoption to a child. You will become acquainted with the process of separation and attachment. You will also be given some strategies for managing the behavior of children who have been traumatized and abused.
Once you have shown interest in a child, you will be given information on them through social workers and teachers. You will then begin visiting with them regularly. These meetings will gradually extend into overnight visits.
Once everyone is ready, your child will be placed in your home. Your social worker will visit several times to help you during the adjustment process. Visits will be made until the adoption is finalized in court, which is usually around six months later. You are free to choose your own attorney.
Those who adopt a special needs child through foster care are eligible for adoption assistance until the child comes of age.
In Mississippi, a child is classified as special needs if they are over 6 years old, a part of a sibling group, or have special emotional needs. In these cases, adoption assistance ranges from $325 to $400 per child per month, depending on the age of the child.
If children have ongoing special needs that they are being treated for at the time of the adoption, you may be eligible for up to $500 per month. If your child has multiple diagnoses which require intervention, you may get adoption assistance of up to $700 per month.
Children who are medically fragile may require in-home medical care or corrective surgeries. In these cases, you may be eligible for assistance of up to $900 per month.
If you are interested in adoption through foster care but would like to adopt a younger child, you may wish to become a foster parent first. Your social agency may be able to help you identify children who are more likely to become available for adoption in the future. They cannot, however, guarantee that parental rights will be terminated.
In order to become a foster parent, you must be a legal Mississippi resident. You have to be at least 21 years old and legally married or single. You will need to have proof that you are able to support yourself financially. There cannot be any more than four children living in your home.
Your job as a foster parent is to provide a safe and stable home for children who have experienced trauma. You will need to teach children new skills, help them recover from traumatic experiences, and work closely with your agency.
Foster parents in Mississippi get a monthly stipend of $550 to $900 per month, depending upon the ages and needs of the child. Your job is to provide a safe and stable environment before children move on to their next life phase.
Adoption In Mississippi Through A Private Agency
Adoption through a private agency or lawyer is more expensive than adopting a child through foster care. There is, however, less risk involved in adopting a younger child. You can adopt a newborn through a private agency in Mississippi. Some popular agencies include Lifeline Christian Services and Catholic Charities of Mississippi.
Unmarried couples and singles are eligible to adopt in Mississippi. They must be residents of the state for at least six consecutive months.
A home study, including background checks, a home inspection, interviews, and references, is required. You will also need to prove that you can financially support a child through income and insurance.
The home study process in Mississippi involves a series of training sessions. You and your social worker will write an outline of your story, and this will provide a background you can use during interviews.
You can discuss your preferences and parenting philosophy during the home study process. Your house does not have to be a palace, and it does not have to be spotless. Your social worker is just looking for a warm, organized, and safe environment that a child can be raised in.
Oftentimes, your agency will require an online or physical photo album that prospective birth mothers can look through to see if your family is a good match for her child. Be sure to highlight any pets, sports teams, values, or interests that might strike a happy chord.
Many adoptive parents go to the hospital while when their new child is born. A birth mother in Mississippi has 72 hours before giving her consent.
Most domestic adoptions are open. In many cases, this involves periodic contact with the birth mother through emails or texts on birthdays or other occasions. You can provide updates and photos. Sometimes, regular in-person visits are involved. In many cases, the level of openness can be worked out with the adoptive families and birth mother.
The costs for domestic infant adoption include legal fees, home study fees, and reasonable medical and counseling fees for the birth mother. Tax credits, employer assistance, and grants can help you make this possible.
International Adoption in Mississippi
Some parents prefer international adoption because it allows them to experience the culture of a new or familiar place as they provide a home to a child. Many children around the world live in inadequate conditions and may enjoy being given a better lifestyle and more opportunities. International adoption also gives parents the option of a closed adoption. In addition, it can be easier for single parents to adopt overseas.
The cost of international adoption is significantly higher due to a number of factors, including travel and lodging for a period of time in another country when traveling. Adoption tax credits and employer assistance can help offset the cost.
There is a great need for parents to adopt sibling groups and older children overseas. There are also, however, many toddlers and preschool-aged children who need families. Be sure to specify what child you think you would be best suited to adopt during the home study process.
Some popular countries to adopt from include China, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. New Beginnings is one of the many adoption agencies that handles international adoption that you can find in Mississippi.
There is a variation in the amount of travel time, depending upon the country you choose. You may need to stay overseas for a week, or you may have to travel for two months. Be sure that your employer knows you are planning on taking a leave so that they are ready for your departure when the time comes.
You may accept your referral before you travel, or you may choose a child once you are in-country. Many countries include a bonding period, where you get to know your child in their home country before the adoption is finalized. You may also have to spend some time overseas after your child becomes legally yours. It is important to represent your home country well in your dress, actions, and manners.
After you return home, the state of Mississippi will issue you a new birth record disclosing the child’s name, race, gender, and place of birth. You will need to obtain a social security number and might have to register your child for school. Either way, it is time to begin an exciting adventure!
Adoption in Mississippi
Whether you adopt through foster care, a domestic agency, or internationally, adoption in Mississippi will change your life forever. A little preparedness and a lot of flexibility will leave you ready for an exciting journey of love and fulfillment.