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What You Need To Know About Adoption

What You Need To Know About Adoption

Consider these factors before starting the adoption process

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There are many adults in the world who would love to be parents and turn to adoption. According to the Adoption Network, about 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. Of the adoptions that are not from stepparents, 59% are from the child welfare or foster care system, 26% are from other countries and 15% are of voluntarily relinquished American babies. While adoption is beautiful, it is also often a long, extensive process with legal and financial complications. Here are some things to consider before deciding to adopt a child.

Examine your motives

Examine your motives

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Why do you want to adopt? According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, adopted children usually have parents that chose to adopt in order to provide a permanent home for a child in need. But beyond that, some reasons for adoption include the desire to expand their family, the inability to have a biological child, wanting a sibling or another child, or having previously adopted the child’s sibling. These are some of the most common motivations for adopting, but what are your motives?

Talk to your family

Talk to your family

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How will a new child affect other people in your family? If you already have children, how do they feel about it? This should not just be one person's decision — the whole family should be a part of the decision and be ready to support this adoption.

Consider what age child you are ready for

Consider what child is right for you

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Narrow down your search by thinking about what age child is a good fit for you and your family. Do you specifically want to parent a newborn? Are you open to siblings? Is your home a good place for a child with physical or mental health issues? These are some helpful basic questions to ask yourself and your family.

Educate yourself

Educate yourself

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Especially if it is your first time adopting, it is important to familiarize yourself with the adoption process. Do as much research as you can by visiting adoption websites and actually talking to parents and families who have adopted before. Also research the different paths to adoption, such as through the foster care system, through an adoption agency or via an adoption attorney.

Know the requirements

Know the requirements

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The requirements to adopt a child domestically and internationally vary, and you should be familiar with them before adopting. First, look at the adoption laws in your state if you plan on adopting domestically. If you are adopting internationally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is the federal agency that determines a person’s eligibility to adopt overseas. You must also be eligible to adopt under the laws of the country from which you intend to adopt.

Find support

Find support

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You don’t have to navigate the complexities of adoption on your own. There are adoption support groups that are available all over the country made up of people who have already gone through the process of adopting a child or children. Go to them for help and assistance beforehand as well as for emotional and psychological support during and after the adoption process.

Attend an orientation meeting

Attend an orientation meeting

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When you contact a local adoption or foster care agency, you will likely be invited to attend an orientation meeting where you will be given information on children in foster care, roles of adoptive and foster parents, and the next steps you will take. It is important at this meeting that you ask questions and listen carefully to what the presenters are saying. As a result of COVID-19, many agencies have moved these sessions and orientations online.

Be aware of the financial cost

Be aware of the financial cost

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Adoption can be expensive in some cases. While adopting a child from foster care involves little expense, adopting a child through a private agency can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000, while adopting from another country costs between $20,000 and $50,000 on average, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. It can also be expensive to work with an adoption attorney on an independent adoption, with the average cost between $15,000 and $40,000.

Determine how you will cover the cost

Determine how you will cover the cost

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There are many options you can choose from to pay for the cost of adoption. Some organizations offer grants, while low-cost and interest-free loans are also available. Employers may also offer adoption benefits in order to supplement costs. Using a crowdfunding site is another way to get support by collecting donations.

Find an agency

Find an agency

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If you will be using an agency, there are two types. Public agencies work through the foster care system. They are usually low in cost and sometimes require becoming licensed to foster even if you intend to adopt. Private adoption agencies also guide you in the process like a public agency but charge for their services. Some are local, while others are national. They will help you complete a home study, provide training, help you find and secure a placement, and identify or provide support services after adoption.

Consider foster care

Consider foster care

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Even if you only intend to adopt and are not interested in providing temporary foster care, if you are approved to foster children, it can quicken the process of placing a child with you for the purposes of adoption. Foster parenting can also demonstrate a prospective adoptive family's suitability for an adoptive placement.

Choose how ‘open’ of an adoption you want

Choose how ‘open’ of an adoption you want

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Beyond public vs. private and domestic vs. international, adoption can break down into other different types and categories. One of the major distinctions is “closed” vs. “open” adoptions, with open adoptions generally meaning that the adoptive and birth families have contact with each other during and after the adoption process. Approximately 95% of domestic infant adoptions in the U.S. have some degree of openness, according to Creating a Family, but it’s up to your family to determine what you’re comfortable with in advance.

Prepare for red tape

Prepare for red tape

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Whichever route you take in your adoption journey, there will likely be a lot of red tape involved that you have to be prepared for. If you have preferences for a child, such as age, race and nationality, that could also make the process longer.

Consider pre-adoption counseling

Consider pre-adoption counseling

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Adoption involves big changes and stress as well as potentially parenting children who have gone through abuse or trauma. Pre-adoption counseling can help you work through your thoughts and feelings toward the adoption process and can help you feel emotionally prepared to parent your adopted child. If you’re looking for a therapist or counselor, here are some tips for finding one who’s right for you.

Make your house a home

Make your house a home

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Whether or not you are first-time parents, making sure your home is safe and presentable for a new addition to your family is important. No matter the type of adoption you pursue, your household will be subject to a home study, an evaluation that assesses your fitness to serve as an adoptive parent. This typically includes multiple visits and interviews with a caseworker.

Prepare for a period of adjustment

Prepare for a period of adjustment

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It takes time to make a parental bond with your newly adopted child. Everything is not going to be easy or comfortable at first, so you and the rest of your family should be ready for an adjustment period.

Know about post-adoption services

Know about post-adoption services

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The adoption might be legally complete, but adoption is still an ongoing process for you, your family and your adopted child and the support you need may change at different ages and developmental stages. There are plenty of post-adoption services that are available and should be used, including support groups, legal help and therapeutic and educational services. If you are struggling with mental health, here is how to create healthy boundaries at home.

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