Adopting a child is a huge decision for any family or individual, it’s important that you don’t rush into the process. Whilst the process is not nearly as daunting as you may expect, it’s still a good idea to take a step back to prepare yourselves for the journey ahead.
To help you get prepared, I’ve put together a list of 5 things you should know or do before jumping in to the adoption process:
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• Build a Support Network
During the adoption process, and especially after you have adopted, it’s a good idea to have a support network of people that can provide practical and emotional relief. I recommend you spend some time to actually write up who is in your support network; this can also include who you will turn to in specific situations.
Whilst you may first turn to family and friends for support, there’s no need to limit your support network. Think about others who could be there in times of need, such as church members, work colleagues or local adoption support groups. Even an online adoption forum can be a part of your support network.
Remember that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.
• Research Adoption Agencies
Choosing the right adoption agency for you is one of the most important things you can do as a prospective adoptive parent prior to starting the adoption process. First you’ll need to decide on the type of agency, in terms of domestic adoptions, your choice are either a public domestic adoption agency or a private domestic adoption agency.
Public adoption agencies are funded by local, state and federal sources and are typically looking to place children that are already in the foster care system, not newborn children. This means that children adopted through a public agency are generally older and often have special needs.
Private adoption agencies are significantly more expensive than public, costing anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000+. Private agencies typically look to place newborn or very young children.
To find an agency that suits your needs you should first ensure that the agency is fully licensed, each state has separate licensing requirements so you should research the requirements of the state you live in. You should also ask the right questions when meeting with prospective agencies. The article linked above has some suggestions for questions you should ask.
• Research the Costs Involved
To be fully prepared for adoption, you should be aware of all the costs that are involved. Depending on the type of agency you choose to go with will drastically affect the cost of adoption. As stated in the previous section, private agencies can cost upwards of $30,000+. Alternatively public adoption agencies can be anywhere from $2,500 to completely free.
The greatest expense for either type of adoption is usually the attorney fees, as document preparation and court representation can be cost $3,000+ depending on the attorney you choose. In many cases you will also need to cover medical costs for the birth mother, if you are uninsured this can cost over $10,000.
Adoption costs can vary from state to state and so can adoption assistance options, so to be fully prepared I recommend doing some research on costs specific to the state you live in.
• Pre-adoption Counseling
Whilst pre-adoption counseling isn’t completely necessary, I suggest you look into it as it can be a huge help in preparing and training you to start your own family. Counseling will help you explore issues that may arise and prepare you to emotionally support your adopted child.
In many cases, the adoption agency will offer an in-house pre-adoption counseling service, if this is something you are interested in then this should be something you look for when selecting the right agency for you.
Proper preparation is key to ensuring the adoption process goes as quickly, and smoothly as possible. I wish the best of luck to all prospective adoptive parents getting ready to start a family.