How to Adopt a Child

Familiarize yourself with the world of adoption first.

Susan Kuligowski January 02, 2019
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We’ve all said it or thought it at one time or another: “With so many waiting children, it shouldn’t be so difficult to adopt a child.” It’s no secret adoption can be complicated, confusing, and downright frustrating even under the best of circumstances. While some of the hoops may seem unnecessary or over the top, most of the mountains of paperwork, interviews, background checks, and legal aspects associated with adoption are in place to safeguard the children against those who would take advantage of an already traumatic situation. Taking the time to learn how to adopt a child, by first familiarizing yourself with some of the fundamental decisions and milestones involved in the process, can help prospective adoptive parents keep your journey on track and lessen the possibility of delays and misunderstandings down the line.

First Steps

To say that there are many things to consider even before you reach out to an adoption facilitator is an understatement. In the following article, the author presents (with a touch of both humor and truth) some pre-steps for those who are considering adoption “someday,” and even to think about it before announcing their plans to family, friends, and the Internet. Prospective adoptive parents first need to do some major soul searching to decide if adoption is the right option—not just for you and your family, but to better determine if you’ve got what it takes to become a parent to a waiting child through adoption for whom life has already posed complexities and setbacks most of us will never know. The “How to Adopt a Child Guide” offers those considering adoption helpful and important insight; first, highlighting questions and scenarios that you should consider before deciding whether or not adoption is the right choice for you, and then walk you through some of the basics including seeking professional help, financial advice, and how to proceed once you’ve been given the green light. This article provides some additional perspective on what it takes to be an adoptive parent and offers an overview of real situations that come with the territory. While nobody is asking adoptive parents to be superhuman, there are some extras that come with the territory, and familiarizing yourself with all things is a no-brainer. Parents should know that the conversations you have with your child about adoption at age1 will be much different than the ones you will have at ages 6, 16, and 26.

Different Paths, Same Destination

If you read through adoption forums and threads, one of the biggest points of contention seems to be the harsh judgment of why people choose certain adoption paths. As if domestic is more ethical and socially acceptable than international, or that private infant adoption is somehow a slap in the face to children waiting in foster care. As any family that has gone through any of the above processes knows, adoption is not one size fits all, and children are not faceless objects waiting to be saved. There are many different avenues to choose from, including domestic, international, private/agency, and foster care. Waiting children did not have the opportunity to choose where they were born or under what circumstances, but they all share something in common: they are all in need of loving homes.

Like most prospective parents considering adoption, I did a lot of research across the board before deciding to pursue international adoption. It’s not that international adoption was “better,” but after much research and consideration, my husband and I felt that it was right for us. We were impressed with a local support group we found and the adoption agency, so we felt it was where our hearts were leading us. The right fit for one family may not fit your family, and that’s okay. We’re friends with families who advocate for foster adoption only, and we have the highest respect and appreciation for their choice as well. Also, choosing a particular adoption route now doesn’t mean that you may not choose a different route the second or third time. The following great articles on how to adopt a child will help you better understand what options are available and which option may be best for you.

This article provides information for those interested in providing forever homes to one of the 100,000 waiting children in America’s foster care system. Did you know that foster to adopt can from vary state to state? It’s important to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and regulations vs. what a well-meaning friend may have experienced elsewhere. While international adoption has dropped over the years for a variety of reasons, this guide breaks down the process by giving you a step-by-step guide. And while it can appear cumbersome, international adoption can be extremely rewarding and worth any extra effort.

Transracial Considerations

What is transracial adoption and why is it a big deal? Whether you decide on domestic adoption or international adoption, many families joined by adoption are transracial. The article “Transracial Adoption” puts things into perspective for families considering adopting from a different cultural background. And while some families choose to be colorblind and in some cases, culturally blind, there are many arguments as to how doing so (even with the best of intentions) can have negative long-term impacts on an adopted child. Adoption.com has pulled together the best articles concerning transracial adoption in America to help you to better understand what transracial adoption means as well as what it will mean for your family. This article provides a glimpse into the life of an adoptee who shares her own story and how it has shaped her life. Transracial adoption can be a beautiful option for those willing and open to embrace the joys and challenges that come with it.

Special Needs

Yet another adoption consideration is how to adopt a child with special needs. While the thought of adopting a child with special needs may sound scary or intimidating, for some families, this is their first choice. Truthfully, just about any child who has spent time in an institution or foster care setting may be deemed special needs for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Most intercountry adoptions are considered special needs. It is important to become familiar with what special needs means according to the type of adoption prospective adoptive parents choose. Adoption.com’s adoption wiki provides detailed information about eligibility, getting started, finding help, and knowing your child’s rights.

Additionally, the “Special Needs Adoption Guide” helps define what special needs adoption really is and provides a medical checklist as well as further links to help adoptive parents better understand what kind of support and resources will be required.  It also helps ensure families are receiving accurate and truthful information as far as a child’s situation, what care has been given to date, and what adoptive parents should do to best prepare their home for their special needs child.

Expenses

One of the biggest deterrents for many prospective parents interested in learning how to adopt a child are the expenses associated with it. While it is not a fun subject to talk about, much less read about, finances play a key role in what sort of adoption is even viable for potential families. While private adoption can be quite expensive, foster to adopt can be extremely reasonable, and in many cases, more manageable than other routes. Even still, many would-be adoptive parents hesitate what they don’t know. This guide provides great advice on how to afford adoption—everything from what costs to consider to how best to budget for your adoption. Aside from saving every penny, garage sales, and social media campaigns, it’s important to familiarize yourself with available loans, grants, and even aid through various employers that offer adoption benefits in order to supplement costs. Additionally, many families are eligible to apply for the adoption tax credit.

Getting Started

Now that you know how to adopt a child, are you ready to take your first step? While adoption is not for the faint of heart, it is a wonderful and doable option for families open to the associated challenges, and, it is an answer to waiting children who need and deserve forever family. Adoption.com’s directory provides a reference of adoption providers by state or by service.

As many of the above linked articles will suggest, once you begin your journey, it will be important for both you and your family to seek out support and resources to help you not just through the beginning stages and paperwork, but to be there through all of the changes that adoption will bring into your new life together as an adoptive family!

Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.

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Susan Kuligowski

Sue Kuligowski is a staff storyteller at Adoption.com. The mother of two girls through adoption, she is a proposal coordinator, freelance writer/editor, and an adoption advocate. When she's not writing or editing, she can be found supervising sometimes successful glow-in-the-dark experiments, chasing down snails in the backyard, and attempting to make sure her girls are eating more vegetables than candy.


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