You have dreamed about it, thought about it, learned about it, and maybe even said the words out loud to those closest to you, “I want to adopt a baby.”
So now what?
Now is the time to put your dreams, words, and research into action. But before you do that, it’s important to first acknowledge what adoption is before committing to pursue it.
Adoption is both the end and the beginning of a somewhat complex series of steps that, for all intents and purposes, are different for everyone.
You may have heard of the adoption triad? The triad is a term and a symbol used to describe and depict the three key relationships interlaced and involved in adoption—the birth parents, the foster or adoptive parents, and the adoptee. Whether an adoption is open or closed, this triad remains. And while the act of adopting or adoption may feel like the beginning of something wonderful and may be associated with happiness and dreams come true for some, it also represents the end of a connection with the associated loss and sadness for others.
Before making the statement, “I want to adopt a baby,” consider the more basic statement, “I want to adopt.” So, do you? The Adoption.com article “I Want to Adopt in the Future. How Do I Prepare Now?” offers smart advice on what you can do to do to get ready to adopt someday, including asking yourself why you want to adopt in the first place.
Once you can clearly and honestly answer that question, you will be in a much better place to pursue different avenues to become an adoptive parent.
YOUR ADOPTION OPTIONS
The six main processes by which a legal and permanent parent-child relationship is created in the United States are domestic adoption, international or intercountry adoption, private adoption or independent adoption, agency adoption, foster care adoption, and kinship adoption. Because adoption requirements vary by state, you should make sure to find adoption information in your local area.
Domestic adoption takes place when an infant born in the United States is placed by legally consenting birth parents with the adoptive family they chose. The Adoption.com article “Adopting a Baby in the U.S.” offers you everything you need to know about bringing a baby into your forever family.
Intercountry or international adoption is yet another pathway many families choose to take to grow their family. While the number of international adoptions has decreased dramatically since its peak in 2007, many countries are still open to international adoption under the strict guidelines of the Hague Adoption Convention and thousands of families travel across the globe to be matched with an infant each year. International adoption can be quite expensive due to additional steps, paperwork, and associated travel fees.
Also known as an independent adoption, private adoption is a popular choice for many prospective parents hoping to adopt a baby. Even though private adoption is notably more expensive than public or fosters care adoption, it is also known to be an easier route for those who have exclaimed, “I want to adopt a baby!” In a private adoption, the birth parent(s) voluntarily place their child for adoption and oftentimes (at least domestically) have a say in choosing the adoptive family. This is oftentimes accomplished with the help of an attorney or adoption agency that works with prospective parents in creating parent profiles.
Not-for-profit or for-profit agencies must be state-licensed to perform the services for prospective adoptive families looking to create a family. As adoption laws vary by state, you should make sure to ask questions before starting the adoption process, including what services the agency provides and a very clear description of the associated fees. Click here for helpful blogs that will point you in the right direction of finding an adoption agency as well as articles on qualities you should look for and questions you should ask before committing to an agency.
Foster Care Adoption
Before you say, “I want to adopt a baby,” you may also consider the option of fostering a baby with the possibility of adoption. It is a well-known fact that the object or goal of foster care is the reunification of the birth family. Still, adopting a baby from foster care happens more than we often hear about.
According to Creatingafamily.org:
– “Children under the age of one year are a growing proportion of first-time admissions to the foster care system. ….Nearly half of all adoptions are of children who entered care before age 1.
– “The majority (60%) of babies in foster care are children of color (39% Black and 21% Hispanic), compared to 46% for older age groups.
– “Physical neglect/failure to thrive is the reason almost half (46%) of babies enter the foster care system.
– “Parental drug or alcohol abuse is present in 61% of infants in foster care.
– “…Over half of the families whose babies are in foster care report having difficulty paying for necessities. (57%)
– “Many babies available for foster care adoption are part of a sibling group.”
The process of kinship foster care varies from state to state. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Placement with relatives, or kin, is often the first option considered by foster care workers when children cannot safely remain in their birth parents’ home or cannot be reunited with a birth mom or dad. Kinship families often have different needs and face different challenges than families who adopt children unrelated to them.” The Adoption.com article “What Is Kinship Foster Care?” provides an overview of what kinship care is and how it works.
PROS AND CONS TO CONSIDER WITH INFANT ADOPTION
While your intentions are good and the outcome of adopting a baby sounds like a dream come true, you should enter the process knowing that adoption is not a one-sided story.
Home Study Anxiety
For many people, the thought of completing a home study can be unnerving and scary. From afar, the idea of someone and the government and in some cases, a foreign government, poking through your personal life can seem overwhelming and sort of unfair with your goal being to love and raise a child. It should be noted, though, that home studies are meant to protect all parties involved in infant adoption.
There are many federal and state laws in place for a reason, and your home study is a perfect opportunity for you to further investigate your rights as an adoptive parent and your child’s rights as an adoptee—both present and future.
Additionally, home studies are an opportunity for prospective parents to receive important training relevant to adoption. You can find a wealth of information and resources here, including a guide on how to survive your home study, adoption services, home study requirements, and international adoption home study information.
As mentioned earlier, while there is a happy ending/new beginning for some, adoption cannot exist without an adoptee’s loss of their first family or biological family. If you are unable to recognize this fact, then adoption may not be for you. Understanding how adoption will impact your child and your family should be as high on your to-do list as will be prepping your nursery!
It is highly recommended that you take advantage of all of the services and education that you will be required to work through during your home study with your social worker. Like the article “How Infants Grief: A Guide for New Adoptive Parents” states, “Grief doesn’t discriminate by age, and infants are no exception.”
While an infant may be too young to pinpoint a sense of loss, it can often be attributed to a change in environment, primary caregiver, and daily routine. Parents may find babies experiencing grief to be especially irritable and hard to console while other infants may appear to shut down or not cry during normal circumstances as their peers do.
While this can be stressful on both babies and their concerned parents, there are effective strategies to remedying this loss and building strong and healthy bonds with newborns.
“Bonding and Attachment When it Goes Right” offers definitions and highlights the differences between bonding and attachment and why these are important to your baby’s development. Simple daily tasks like feeding, bathing, changing, and naptime are opportunities for parents to bond with their babies. Any one-on-one time is the perfect time to make a connection with your child to help build the trust and sense of security necessary for a strong and healthy attachment.
Parents need to note that a focus on bonding and attachment should not end with infancy, but should be carried on through each stage of an adopted child’s life. Grief and loss aren’t something that completely goes away and may change in presentation as your child grows and understands their adoption story.
The cost and fees associated with the adoption are oftentimes a “make it or break it” for prospective adoptive parents. Foster care to adopt is typically the least expensive route for adoptive families while private adoption and international adoption tend to be higher due to attorney fees and travel expenses. Still, there is hope for those who are willing to do their homework. Affording Adoption offers helpful information concerning adoption loans, grants, employer-provided benefits, and the Adoption Tax Credit, as well as articles with tips on how to fundraise for your adoption.
The adoption process can make you feel as though you’ve been caught up in a wicked wave that moves fast and has you hanging on for dear life while you twist and turn in several different directions at once. When the ride stops, your sweet baby is home, and your adoption has been finalized, you may experience a whole new flow of experiences and emotions as a family.
In addition to building a bond and trust with your baby, you’re also going to be building an identity as an adoptive family. Making sure that you have strong resources in place, including a pediatrician and any other specialists that you may require, you’re also going to want to prepare family and friends for life with a baby.
Failing to do so may result in misunderstandings, misinformation, and awkward and sometimes difficult and inappropriate situations—easily avoidable with simple and open conversation.
Educating your close circle before your adoption is finalized is a good place to start. Not only should you share some of what you will learn in your own adoption training with those who may play a role in your child’s life, educating family members on adoption language and what to expect from an adopted child can go a long way in ensuring a positive and peaceful transition for you and your baby.
FAMOUS ADOPTERS AND ADOPTEES
You are not alone in your desire to adopt a baby! Many famous people and celebrities are part of the adoption triad with some notable adoptees such as Faith Hill, a country music singer, who once said, “Having been adopted, I really have a strong sense—a necessity almost—for stability, a foundation where my family is concerned.”
Adoptive mom and Oscar winner Diane Keeton once said, “Nothing has more meaning for me in my life than my kids.”
Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive/chairman of Apple Inc., was adopted at just a few days old as was Oscar award-winning actor Jamie Foxx. The list goes on and on and includes high-profile politicians to scientists to athletes.
Adopting a baby is a wonderful and internationally-recognized choice made by notable figures and regular Joes alike to provide forever families to children who need them!
HOW TO GET STARTED
Now that you know what adoption is, know why you want to adopt, and are comfortable in making the statement, “I want to adopt a baby,” consider checking out Adopt a Baby in the US guidelines, including:
– How to adopt a baby guide
– Creating an adoption profile
– how to adopt a baby forum
– Information on home studies
– Advice on affording adoption
– Local adoption guides
– Adoption laws
– Directory of adoption services
or “The International Adoption Guide” on Adoption.com’s international page, including:
– International adoption overview
– Photo listings
– Listing of international adoption forums
– International adoption articles
– Directory of adoption services
and put your dreams, thoughts, and words into action!
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.