Adoption can be a beautiful gift for children in need and parents wishing to grow their families. In many ways, it’s the ultimate expression of love, and it takes various forms. Arrangements vary from stepparents who make their relationships more formal to couples who help a needy youth from another part of the world.
However, it isn’t a step you should make lightly — you must examine your motivations and carefully evaluate your circumstances. Here are five things you should know before pursuing adoption.
1. The Birth Parent’s Wishes
Depending on your circumstances, you may know your adopted child’s birth parents. The spike in deaths of despair and incarceration for drug offenses has led to an increase in grandparents raising their grandchildren, for example. If one of your younger family members gets pregnant before they’re ready or able to care for a child, it isn’t unusual for older family members to step in and help. Sometimes, these arrangements end in formal adoption.
Other times, the birth mother might have a list of qualifications she seeks in an adoptive family. For example, she may want her child raised in a particular religious faith or by those who embrace a specific political ideology. They may have strong preferences regarding discipline styles and the cultural and extracurricular activities their child’s family espouses.
If you don’t want to consider outside influences on raising your child, you might wish to go with a closed adoption where officials physically seal the file. In these instances, you’ll have no contact with the birth parent. Nor will your child — at least not until they turn 18. In the past, some children in these arrangements didn’t even know they were adopted. Social workers placed the adoptive parents’ names on a waiting list and notified them when an infant became available.
2. The Types of Adoption (and Costs)
You can choose between public and private adoption. Each route to forming your family has unique advantages and disadvantages.
Public adoptions refer to those that take place within the foster care system. This route allows you to ease into the idea of sharing your house and home before you formalize the arrangement. Another advantage is that this route lets you take in an older child, handy if you want to skip the diaper phase.
However, public adoptions carry the risk of heartache. Children in the foster care system sometimes return to their biological parents. You must brace yourself for letting go. That said, occasionally, the courts will terminate the birth parent’s rights for various reasons. When this occurs — or the birth parent gives permission — you’re free to proceed.
Private adoptions generally involve infants surrendered by parents who were unable to care for them. You might prefer this route if infertility makes it challenging for you to carry a baby to term, but you crave the newborn experience.
In general, private adoptions cost far more than public. While you must still meet minimum financial qualifications, you might find the latter route more practical if money is a concern.
3. The Supplies and Support You’ll Need
Raising a child isn’t an inexpensive proposition. It costs nearly $300,000 to raise a child to age 18 in America. Before you adopt, you need to ensure you have stable financial means. While your agency and the court will review your economic readiness, you know your circumstances better than anyone. It isn’t fair to put a child in an unstable situation.
You’ll also need various supplies. If you’re adopting a newborn, you’ll have to gather the same materials as expectant parents. Take heart — it’s perfectly acceptable to host a baby shower when adopting. Fill out your registry with care. While it might be untraditional, you could consider doing something similar if you are thinking of adopting an older child.
4. Your Alternatives for Starting a Family
Many people who consider adopting do so because they were unable to conceive. However, science gives you more options than ever if you want to have a biological child.
Talk to your physician before you act to outline your options. Treatments like ovarian stimulation and even acupuncture might increase your chances of conception.
5. Your Reasons for Adopting
Finally, please be sure you examine your reasons for adopting. A child isn’t a designer handbag that you can treat like an accessory. You’re opening your home to a unique human being who may or may not develop the personality you expect them to have. Can you love them for who they are, not who you want them to be?
Another motivation that should give you pause is loneliness. Please know that starting a family through any means is no guarantee you’ll be surrounded by loving grandchildren to take care of you in your old age. Are you prepared for that eventuality if it occurs?
Your drive to adopt should stem from altruism and the desire to have a child who is every bit as unpredictable as a biological infant — or teen. You could end up hurting multiple people if you leap with the wrong motivations. Please ensure your heart is pure.
You Should Know These 5 Things Before Pursuing Adoption
Pursuing adoption is a fabulous way to grow your family while helping a child in need. However, it isn’t a step to take lightly — please know these five things first.