Adoption can take many different forms, but we’ll cover the basics today. I don’t have all the answers, of course, but I hope to give you a good overview so that you have enough information to pursue additional answers you may need.
– Kinship Adoption: When birth parents are unable to care for a child, for whatever reason, a relative may step forward to adopt; in these cases, the adoptive parents must still meet certain requirements to ensure the child will be well cared-for, but they are usually given preference over non-relatives. I know a few families who have done this, but it’s usually something that comes up somewhat unexpectedly, rather than the family making a decision to pursue adoption beforehand. Step-parent adoptions are also relatively common.
If you’re considering adoption, it will likely be one of the following types:
Domestic Adoption: This means adopting a child within your own country. Usually (at least here in the U.S.), the children are infants; sometimes the adoptive parents are even able to be present at the child’s birth and take the child home with them from the hospital. Laws and specifics vary from state to state.
Open adoptions are more common now than they used to be. Although the thought of an open adoption scares some people, it’s important to remember that once the adoption is finalized, the birth parents cannot change their minds and take the child back. The adoptive parents are now the legal parents of the child.
Open adoptions can be very open, including spending time with the birth parents fairly often; or they may be rather limited, simply sending photos and letters/emails every so often. I have several friends who have open adoptions, and they are blessed by the relationship with their child’s birth family.
Wait time varies greatly. Some adoptive parents wait years before adopting domestically, but for some it’s a whirlwind experience.
Costs vary depending on circumstances, and whether it is a private adoption (adoptions which do not use an adoption agency) or adoption through an agency, but usually range between $14,000 to $30,000 or more.
– International Adoption: These adoptions involve children who were born in a country other than that of the adoptive parents. These adoptions involve the normal state and federal laws that apply to all domestic adoptions, but are also subject to laws from the country of the child’s origin.
Laws and requirements vary greatly from country to country. For instance, because we have a divorce history, we cannot adopt from Uganda. Some countries are strict about the ages of the adoptive parents, some adopt to single parents and some do not, many have length-of-marriage requirements. In nearly every country, one or both parents must travel to the country of origin, usually at least two times. Some countries have rather long waiting periods. Do your research.
Children in international adoptions may be of any age, and may or may not have special needs. This also varies greatly from country to country.
Costs for international adoption vary, but most run between $18,000 to $40,000, including agency fees, legal fees, and travel expenses.
– Foster Adoption: More than 100,000 children in the U.S. are currently waiting to be adopted. In many foster adoptions, the family has already been fostering the child, and if reunification with birth parents does not happen, the foster family is given the option to adopt. If they do not choose to do so, a waiting adoptive family is sought. In these situations, the birth parents’ rights have already been terminated, which means the child is legally free for adoption and is placed with a family specifically interested in adopting the child. Parents who adopt through foster care (like us) do not need to be foster parents first.
Children adopted from foster care may be of any age, but most waiting children are between the ages of 8 to 15.
Fees for foster adoption vary up to about $9,000, but some foster adoptions cost the family nothing at all, due to reimbursements from the state.
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–> Please come back tomorrow, when I’ll tackle some of the greatest misconceptions about adoption!