People, in general, enjoy having options. We want and value the opportunity of having choices and options that best fit our needs, our personalities, and our lifestyles. This is also true in terms of adoption options. What is the best option for you and your family? How do you know? What are the adoption options available and which are the best fit for you?
The term “adoption” is very broad. It can refer to foster care, international adoption, domestic adoption, and kinship adoption. In all cases, there are many factors to consider: if you want an international adoption, what country do you hope to adopt from, and what is the age range and needs of the child that you would adopt? And unfortunately, but realistically, financial factors must be added in when considering the options of adoption.
So, where do you begin researching the many adoption choices? One of the first basic choices is to decide whether you want an international adoption or domestic adoption. International adoption is an adoption of a child from another country where domestic is any adoption of a child born in the United States. In a forum, the topic of domestic versus international adoption was discussed. A family, hoping to adopt, but unable to decide between international and domestic adoption asked for feedback between the two options. The forum addressed that a major issue to take into consideration is that in domestic adoption, the expectant mother has until the time she signs the relinquishment of parental rights paperwork to decide against the adoption plan and decide to parent the child herself. Typically, these forms are signed 24-48 hours after the child is born; however, the finalization time of the adoption varies from state to state. Another factor to consider is that domestic adoptions are tending to become more open where they were typically all closed several years ago. Open adoption means that you would have some sort of openness, contact, or relationship with the birth parents and/or birth family. It is important to weigh your feelings about this and know your comfort level regarding the amount of openness you desire. For international, it tends to be more expensive due to traveling. Also, you may see more special needs in a child adopted internationally.
The baby adoption guide includes many wonderful facts and tips about domestic adoption that are important to consider. As stated, domestic adoption is an adoption that takes place in the United States and is often viewed as adopting a newborn infant from the hospital. Adoption does require “volumes” of paperwork as with any type of adoption. Do not let that deter you from the process because you know the result, and your hope will sustain you. If you are involved in an open adoption, it will be important to establish the guidelines of the relationships expected among the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive parents. It is important to state from the beginning what you are comfortable with and find a solution that works for all the parties involved in the relationships. It is much easier to establish this in the beginning than have to realign later in the process.
An important requirement for domestic adoption is the profile book you will need to create. If you are hoping to adopt from an expectant mother, this book will be shown to expectant mothers to help them select parents for their unborn baby. It will help her decide who she would like to meet and learn more about. So of course, it is important to make a good impression by including a good mix of pictures and information about yourself, your family, your beliefs. In an open adoption, some people have asked the question, “Can she take the child back?” No, that is not true. When she signs the paperwork, she is relinquishing her parental rights. Also, open adoption is not co-parenting. Some people also believe that open adoption is confusing for the child, but it has been shown the opposite: that it is a very positive influence for the child and allows many of the questions the child might have to be answered.
International adoption may seem overwhelming, but dividing it into individual steps and goals will help make it more attainable. Clearly, international adoption is when you adopt a child from a different country. Once you have decided on international adoption, the next big step is to decide on the country that you hope to adopt from which is often influenced by your nationality. It is important to know that countries have different requirements, examples being health and financial requirements. For international adoption, after the home study is completed (which is needed for a domestic as well as international adoption), the family will complete paperwork called their dossier which is the paperwork that will be sent to the adopting country.
There are different factors to consider with international adoption as presented in the international adoption guide. Some of the positives presented in the guide include getting to experience a new culture and travel to that country, accurate knowledge of the fees, and costs of the things you will encounter while there. Major negatives revolve around unknown medical history and the birth history of your child may be unknown or inaccurate. The child may experience institutionalization by being in an orphanage for a period of his or her life.
Another option of adoption is to use the aid of an adoption agency or independent adoption. Using an adoption agency means applying and being accepted by an agency by meeting their requirements to adopt. That is different than doing an independent adoption which refers to not using an adoption agency but instead, hopeful adoptive parents use an adoption facilitator or adoption attorney that is qualified in your state. It is important to evaluate all the options provided against their potential risks. Adoption agencies are licensed and have to meet strict requirements, and therefore, they are regarded as providing the least amount of risk. Next, would be adoptions completed by an attorney, followed by facilitators, which have the largest risk.
In addition to domestic and international adoption is the option of kinship foster care and adoption. Kinship adoption is when a child is placed with a biological family member. When a child enters protective custody, agencies explore different family members as a possible placement option. It could be a grandparent providing for a grandchild or an aunt/uncle providing for a niece/nephew. A recent article, states, “the goal behind kinship foster care is to find and approve families who have a connection to children brought into care.” It is important to remember that these kinship placements must meet the same qualifications as any foster home, and in some instances, may not be the best option for the child. Kinship placement can lead to adoption, in time, if the parents terminate their parental rights.
Another adoption factor/option is the age of the child you wish to adopt. If you wish for an infant, a domestic adoption may be the best option for you. Most international adoptions will include toddler age to older children. While some say it is harder to adopt an older child, even infants have experienced loss and trauma through their displacement. In a forum, many people expressed their opinion and experience concerning this issue. One stated many areas need to be addressed in the adoption process and your ability to deal with all the factors; it is not only the adoption of a child but the adoption of their “baggage.” All the additional factors must be considered for your well-being and their well-being: their age, attachment, bonding, developmental delays, unknowns in medical history, and schooling history.
In addition to the age of the child, another important adoption issue is the special needs of the child. A lot of great information is found in this special needs adoption guide. In any adoption, you will most likely be asked to fill out a medical health form. This is usually a list of medical conditions or special needs conditions that you are comfortable with and would accept in a child. Of course, the more conditions a family would accept on the medical list, the more likely they would get matched with a child sooner. But it is so important to take your time filling out this form and be realistic on what conditions your family could truly handle. You are not helping a child if you cannot physically, mentally, and socially work with a child who has special needs. In international adoption, upon receiving a referral or information about a child, you have a short period of time in which to decide if you will accept the referral. During this time, hospitals with international adoption clinics will review the referral and provide you with feedback about any medical conditions listed. It is also important to take into account that international adoption referrals may or may not be totally accurate. It is also important to remember that trauma is a real thing in all adoptions.
A major concern of adoption that hinders many people from adoption is the high cost of adoption; they feel they cannot afford it. The number of fees or the overall price may seem overwhelming, and to be honest, it is overwhelming. But there are many different options that families can pursue in their adoption process. The affording adoption guide is a great resource. It provides an example of various fundraisers that families can do to raise money for the adoption. Another is to review their budget and see if there are “tweaks” that could be made to help them. How often do they eat out? Should we rent Redbox instead of going to the movie theatre? Another popular fundraiser is through yard sales. People can sell items not used in the past year as well as ask family and friends for donations to sell. There are also many adoption grants as well as adoption loans that families can apply for to help fund their adoption.
There are many different adoption options to consider when the family is looking to start their family through the adoption process. The most important thing to remember is not to get overwhelmed, to take one step at a time, and to know that many supports or resources are wanting to help them.
Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.