Adoption is the legal process of permanently taking a child into one’s family and raising the child as one’s own. It can be a fantastic experience, but it’s essential to understand what you’re getting into before deciding to adopt. Here are some things you need to know about adoption in the United States.
Get Legal Counsel
One of the first things you must do is hire a family law lawyer. This lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that everything is done according to the law.
The adoption process is regulated by state and federal laws, so it’s essential to have someone on your side who knows the ins and outs of these laws. A lawyer specializing in family law is more knowledgeable than any other lawyer about the adoption process.
Types of Adoption
You have to decide on the type of adoption you want. Here are your choices.
This is done through a public agency. You first become foster parents to the child, intending to adopt once the child is available for adoption. In these cases, getting a newborn or even an infant is doubtful. You also have little choice in the child. Often, children come from a past of physical or emotional abuse and trauma. They are most in need of care, but you must also be equipped to support them.
Independent adoption means looking for a birth parent and facilitating the adoption through an adoption lawyer. There is a risk here that the birth mother changes her mind after giving birth. Also, since you will be doing all negotiations through your lawyer, with no set protocols, this can be highly stressful.
Adoption through a private agency gives you the highest chances of adopting a newborn if you are willing to wait. Also, professionals are handling every step of the process. This adoption route can be expensive, though.
This is the most expensive route and also the most complex. You will be dealing with two governments, and the foreign government can change its rules while your adoption is still in process.
Choose an Adoption Agency
There are many types of adoption agencies, so it’s essential to do your research and choose one that best fits your needs. Some agencies specialize in domestic adoptions, while others work with international adoptions.
Some are licensed nationwide in the U.S., while some are only licensed in a specific state. The advantage of a nationally certified adoption agency is that they work with mothers from different states. Hence, there may be shorter waiting times for adoption.
Ensure that the agency you choose has a good reputation. Check their licenses and look for reviews. Also, you must be comfortable working with them.
Complete Home Study
All adoptive families must complete a home study. This is required by law in most states. A home study is conducted by a social worker who will come to your home and interview you, your spouse, and any other children in your household.
The social worker will also do a background check on everyone in the household. The home study aims to ensure that you’re a suitable family for adoption and that the child will be safe in your care.
Be Prepared for an Open Adoption
Open adoptions are becoming more common, so it’s essential to be prepared for this possibility. In an open adoption, the birth mother or parents maintain contact with the child after the adoption is finalized.
This can include sending letters and photos or even having visits. It’s essential to be open to this possibility when adopting, as it’s what’s best for the child.
Understand the Costs
Adoption can be costly, so it’s essential to be prepared for the expenses. The cost of adoption depends on the type of adoption and other factors. For instance, if you adopt through a public agency, you can spend around $2,500, including the home study fees and legal costs.
If you do an independent adoption, your expenses can include the medical expenses for the birth and the legal fees. Depending on the cap of your state, you can spend from $8,000 to $40,000 or an average of $12,500.
If you adopt through a private agency, you have to pay for the home study fees, birth parent counseling, your training as adoptive parents, social work service fees, and legal fees. These can amount to around $5,000 to $40,000.
The costliest adoption is through an inter-country adoption agency. Prepare around $15,000 to $30,000 to cover:
- court costs and immigration processing
- passport fees
- your travel expenses
- foreign agency fees
- foreign legal fees
- your required donation to the foreign orphanage
- translation fees
- possible medical care of the child
- possible foster care of the child
Some employers offer adoption benefits that can help you offset some costs. Additionally, many fundraising options are available to help with the cost of adoption.
Keep in mind, too, the costs of raising a child. To raise a child born this year up to the age of 18, you will need $272,049. That does not cover college costs.
Prepare to Be a Parent
Adopting a child is a huge decision that should not be taken lightly. It’s important to do your research and understand all that is involved in the process. Adoption can be an amazing experience, but it’s important to be prepared for all that it entails. It is a lifelong commitment that will also bring you a lifetime of joy.