My fianc and I have been together for 6 years. We have two children together (4&6). I also have two children from a previous relationship (7&9) and he has a daughter from a previous relationship, she is 21 years old and does not live with us. We would really like to adopt a child, or even small sibling group. We just started looking into adoption and I'm concerned we wont be able to since we aren't married yet. We haven't decided if we want to adopt in the U.S., through fostercare, or international. Although we would like to keep the birth order going, so the child would have to be 4yrs or under. I'm 27 yrs old and my fianc is 48 years old. He has a very good job, fulltime and good benefits, and I work part-time just to get out of the house. I wouldn't be able to adopt as a single because I only work part-time. Could he adopt as a single than I adopt the child here? What do you think our best place to adopt is? Any advice or agency contacts would be great!
You will have the most options open to you if you marry. So if you don't have really strong objections to marriage, and if you don't have any legal barriers such as an unfinalized divorce, I'd suggest adopting as a married couple.
Yes, most agencies will tell you, officially, that you must wait at least a year (sometimes longer) after marriage before you apply to adopt, because they want to be sure that the relationship is stable; however, many agencies DO accept cohabitation as equivalent to marriage when it comes to when you can apply, and since you have been together six years, and have two children together, those agencies should be willing to work with you right away.
If you are looking at international adoption, be aware that some countries will not work with singles, especially men, and that many countries have rules on length of marriage. In addition, some countries have rules regarding the maximum number of children you may have living in your home when you adopt. Also, remember that, with international adoption, you will not receive a newborn. Even if your child is a newborn at referral, which is very rare, he/she is likely to be a year old when he/she comes home. And in most countries, children aren't referred until they are older, and don't come home for quite a while after that. Go to the website of the U.S. State Department at to view the requirements of different countries.
If you are looking at domestic agency adoption of a newborn, remember that there are far more families seeking to adopt than there are birthmothers looking to make placements. So do expect quite a wait. Also, remember that, nowadays, most agencies encourage birthmothers to choose the characteristics of the adoptive family. In general, birthmothers look for married couples, either childless or with one child, though you may get lucky. Plenty of single women have done domestic agency adoptions, but not usually with four children in the home.
While most people think of domestic agency adoption in terms of newborns, do remember that some domestic agencies occasionally place children who are older -- for example, children whose adoptions had to be dissolved for one reason or another. While some dissolutions occur because a child has issues -- usually emotional/behavioral -- that a parent has difficulty handling, not all do. But you will have to assess your openness to adopting a child who may have some challenges and some residual effects of dissolution.
Domestic private adoption, where you find a birthmother on your own and use a social worker for the homestudy and an attorney for all the legalities, often works well for the non-traditional couple. However, of all types of adoption, this one has the greatest risk of fall-throughs and scams. You also have to do quite a lot of work on your own -- for example, networking with obstetricians, clergy, etc., to identify women who want to make adoption plans.
Adoption from foster care is terrific, but remember that most of the children will be past infancy, and many will have physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Unfortunately, some of the information on the children may not be complete in terms of the challenges that are present -- for example, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, history of sexual abuse, etc. With young children already in your home, you will need to think about whether any adoption you undertake will create a risk of harm to your kids.
Spend as much time as possible exploring options.