A friend on Facebook wrote this, “The month of November is National Adoption Month. The best decision I EVER made in my life was opening my heart up to the possibility that I could be a mother without giving birth. So thankful to God.” It started me thinking.
More than 100,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system are awaiting permanent families. National Adoption Month is a time to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care.
Some reasons people choose to adopt may include:
- alternative way to grow their family
- in order to add to their family
- to help a specific child
- for social justice reasons
If you’re thinking about adopting a child, there’s a lot to consider.
- If you’ve had infertility problems, are you ready to move on? Before you adopt, you may want to take the time to process your emotions about what you’ve been through in trying to have a baby.
- Are you ready for the responsibility? Becoming a parent is a lifelong commitment. The responsibility doesn’t stop even when they are adults – it is just different.
- Who do you want to bring into your family? Consider the child’s age, the child’s ethnic background and U.S. or international adoption options.
- How long are you willing to wait? All adoptions involve paperwork, background checks, and waiting, but some take longer than others. Adopting an infant within the U.S. usually takes between 3 and 24 months; adopting older children from foster care usually takes 2 to 12 months. International adoptions can take up to 5 years, depending on the country.
- Are you ready financially? The fees involved in adopting an infant in the U.S. typically run as much as $40,000, and in some instances, they may go higher. Make sure the initial estimate that you’re given includes all costs, such as a home study, background checks, travel expenses (if applicable), and post-placement costs; there shouldn’t be any additional or hidden fees. Check and see if your employer will pay part of your adoption fees, sometimes this is one of your benefits.
- Do you have support? If you have a partner, are you both eager to adopt? If you already have kids, are they prepared for the family to grow?
If, after answering all these questions, you still feel ready to adopt, it’s most likely time to take the next step and contact an adoption agency.
Do your “homework”. There is much to be said on both sides of the adoption “coin”.
The legal definition of adoption is: the social, emotional, and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become full and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to their birth family.
But, on a different level, many children have never felt the warmth and joy that comes from a forever family. Most have been placed in agency custody due to parental neglect or physical abuse. The good news is that the lives of these children can be brightened forever by just one person. It has many facets and touches people in different ways—depending on their role and perspective.
This month gives us a time to reflect on the magnitude of the matter, ignite a discussion and explore resources that may be helpful to those wanting to consider the opportunity.
Some excellent resources are cited in The Impact of Adoption on Adoptive Parents
Additional resource used for this information: Are You Ready to Adopt? http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/ready-to-adopt
Written by: Kathryn K Dodrill, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County
Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.