Deciding to add to your family again through adoption can be difficult, and there are so many emotions and questions one has when making this consideration. This is truly a decision only you and your family can make based on your unique family situation. That being said, there are some factors to consider when deciding if you are ready to adopt again. You should consider your financial situation, if you have enough time and energy for another child, and whether or not you meet the requirements to adopt again. Also, make sure to ask how the other members of your household feel about adopting again. Most importantly, think about whether or not you would truly regret it if you chose not to adopt another child.
1. Can we afford it?
The cost of adoption itself can be daunting, but also consider the cost of adding another child to your family. There are so many expenses that increase when bringing another person into your household—ones that perhaps you may not have thought of ahead of time.
Would one spouse need to return to work or increase their working hours? Who will be able to take paid maternity or paternity leave? If no leave is available, how will you cover your expenses with one family member at home until the child is old enough to attend daycare or have in-home childcare? Have you given thought to how you will pay for the future costs of education, medical care, and even basic needs like food and clothing? Do any of the children you are currently parenting have any special needs that place an additional financial burden on the family? How much more will childcare cost for another child? What kind of savings plan do you have set up, or do you need to set up, for college expenses for your kids?
You also need to play a bit of a crystal-ball gazer and think about what future expenses might occur that could stretch your family a bit thinner. Do you have aging parents who may need to move in with you or receive other full-time care? Have you been putting off replacing your roof for a few years? Do you have a car that is on its last legs?
It may take a while to crunch some numbers, and you may need to meet with an accountant or financial advisor. But odds are, though you might have to make some sacrifices, if your heart is truly set on adding another child to your family, you will find a way to make it work financially. There are numerous grants and other resources that can help you with your adoption finances as well, and don’t forget that adopting from the foster care system is essentially free!
2) Do you have the resources to parent another child?
Kris Jenner told one of her children this, “Having one kid feels like one, having two kids feels like 20.” While there may be some hyperbole in that statement, it is true that adding another child to your family, whether you currently have one child or 10, means an adjustment for everyone.
Do you have more hours in your day to factor in another child’s activity schedules? How old would you be when this child graduates high school and are you comfortable with that age? Do you have the emotional energy and patience to deal with another child, especially one who could potentially have special needs or need extra support because they have experienced trauma as an adoptee?
While babies are adorable and the thought of having another cute little face sitting around your dinner table at night can be tempting, you need to carefully think about whether you truly have all that it takes to give another child 100 percent of you. If you are parenting with someone else, a spouse, or a partner, they need to consider this as well. Can you give 100 percent not just until they reach adulthood, but for the rest of your lives?
Also, consider your lifestyle at the moment. For example, right now I have a 3-year-old who spends her days alternating between being a pint-sized Evel Knievel and a teenager trapped in a toddler’s body. I am also in school full-time pursuing a master’s degree, working part-time, and we are in the middle of building a new home. We also have four geriatric pets with a variety of maladies that are proving to be more expensive than we might have imagined. So, for us now is NOT the time to start the adoption process again because of how much else is happening in our lives.
The thought of chasing after my toddler while also having to care for a newborn gives me chest pain. For some people that is no big deal, of course, but these are all things you need to think about.
Think about all the commitments and responsibilities you already have. Is there room for another person in the mix? One way you can get a glimpse at this potential new reality is to “borrow” a friend or family member’s child for a day or so even if the child is a different age than the child you might adopt. Literally, no one will say no to free babysitting, and having one more kid to keep tabs on, even just for a day, can help you get a feel for if you have the energy to add another family member to the mix. We have good friends with two young boys and we love spending time together, but I always leave our gatherings thinking, “I’m glad I currently only have one rambunctious child to wrangle!”
3. Do you meet the requirements to adopt again?
Most domestic adoption agencies place a limit on how frequently you can adopt. Most often, they require your youngest child to be at least 9 months old. Some also place a limit on how many children you can have in the home altogether. International adoptions also have requirements for parents on how old your youngest child must be, how old you must be, what your income must be, and how many children you have. Some countries even have requirements for maximum body mass index, or BMI, and will also deny any documented mental illness. Check with your agency of choice to ensure you meet all the requirements before you get your hopes up.
You might be required to wait a little longer to get going or you might have to switch countries if you are adopting internationally. You also might be surprised to find that wait times or procedures have changed at the agency you have adopted previously. When we adopted in 2016, the program we adopted from had about 20 waiting families, give or take. The program has expanded a great deal since then, which is great because it means every child will find a placement, but with about 50 families waiting in the program now inevitably wait times are longer now than they were when we adopted.
Has the fee schedule changed for your agency? If you are adopting internationally and have done so previously, what is the current status of the country you adopted from previously? With more countries joining the Hague Convention, and other countries that were once open to international adoption ceasing their programs all together, you might be surprised to find that your intended country for adoption is not an option anymore.
If your previous agency or country of intended adoption is no longer an option, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board. Do you have the time to start the “research phase” all over again? How much of your previous research from prior adoptions do you still have, and how much of it might help you find your new avenue? Do you know someone who has adopted through another avenue you can talk to about how their process went?
Also, don’t forget that the home study is different for foster care, domestic adoption, and international adoption. How much time would it take to update your home study and fulfill these new requirements? Are you willing to fulfill these new requirements? For example, if you were pivoting to adoption from foster care, the home study might require you have a separate bedroom for every one of your kids. If you don’t have a spare bedroom ready and waiting for this new child, are you willing to move or renovate? Make sure you are very clear on all that will be required of you for this adoption and don’t assume that the requirements or timeline will be the same as previous adoptions.
4. Is everyone in your household on board with adopting again?
First and foremost, you and your spouse or partner, if you have one, need to be equally in agreement and equally enthusiastic about entering into the adoption process. As a consultant to adoptive parents, I have encountered many couples where one partner was way more enthused about adopting than the other. Often it just took a little while and answering a few questions for both partners to get equally excited, but there were also instances where it seemed like one partner was dragging the other one, kicking and screaming, toward the adoption process despite their protests. I probably don’t have to tell you that this rarely ends well for all involved.
Many couples have the dynamic where one is the “gas” and one is the “brakes,” so to speak. Like the “gas” portion of my marriage, I understand what it’s like to get excited about something and have the other partner pump the brakes with questions about things like logic and common sense. If your partner is currently putting their version of the brakes on your enthusiasm, listen to their concerns. It might help to meet with an adoption social worker or a counselor for everyone to get their questions answered before you forge ahead.
Even if you have already adopted five times, you’ll know that every adoption is different and each time you expanded your family there were different growing pains. Also, consider your existing children’s opinions. I’m generally not an advocate of letting kids call the shots in major family decisions, but in this case, I think it’s important to at least talk to them about it and get a sense of what the overall consensus is.
Would some of your kids have to start sharing a bedroom? Do you have children with special needs or children who have experienced trauma who might react badly to having attention taken away from them? Would your older kids have to take on more responsibility to help keep the household running? These are all things you need to discuss ahead of time so no one is surprised by the change in dynamics if and when a new child arrives.
5. Would you feel regret if you didn’t do it?
All of these practical considerations aside, we all know that sometimes, we have to concede that the heart wants what it wants. Do you feel you will regret it if, in five or 10 years, you look back and wish you had adopted? Does your partner feel the same? Is your child or children eagerly awaiting the arrival of a sibling?
If you and your partner/spouse are truly yearned to add another child to your family through adoption, the practical considerations can be worked out. Very few obstacles to adoption are insurmountable. The children you currently parent will adjust to the new addition, even if it requires some work with a family therapist. You can find a bigger house or finally break down and buy a minivan.
Maybe it will take longer than you anticipated, maybe there are some financial things or “life stuff” you will have to get squared away first, maybe you will have to adopt through a different avenue than you originally planned. If you truly feel as though your family is not complete, you will find a way to make it work.
Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.