After you have made the decision to adopt, it’s time to find the right adoption professional for you. There are many things to consider:
- How much money can you afford to spend?
- Do you want your child to look like you or are you open to inter-racial adoption?
- Do you want a healthy child or will you consider a child with special needs?
- How long are you willing to wait?
- What type of adoption professional do you want to work with?
Let’s examine each question
- How much money can you afford to spend?
a. Most private adoptions are expensive. You will need to have anywhere from 10 to 50 thousand dollars of readily available cash. Get comfortable with the amount of money you will need to spend. Do not let it become a source of frustration for you and your spouse. If you have this much to spend more doors will be open for you in the way of private and/or facilitated adoptions.
- b. If you are financially challenged like most of us, I suggest you contact your state Foster/Adopt program. Contrary to popular belief there are many older children and occasional newborns available for adoption.
a. Examine your feelings truthfully and honestly. Examine the reactions and feelings of your immediate and extended family. Will they accept a child that does not look like you?
In my family we are a multi-racial conglomeration of Caucasian, Hispanic, Chinese and Native American. Each child is loved for their individuality not their race.
b. Can you say, and mean, the same thing? If you can, a whole new world of International adoption will open up for you as will the state Foster/Adopt program. There are many waiting children and newborns available if you are willing to adopt outside your race.
a. When considering this question: THINK LONG TERM! My husband’s older adopted brother is mentally and physically handicapped. My mother-in-law can no longer care for him so now my husband and I do. It can be difficult caring for a 72 year-old man who THINKS he is 12.
There are constant doctor appointments, countless falls, and plenty of tears and laughter. And it is hard when you realize that you will NEVER be alone as a couple because the alternative is unthinkable. This is a life-long commitment and if you are not willing to make that commitment DO NOT adopt a child with special needs.
- b. Another thing to consider is your job and/or career. If you are not planning to be a stay-at-home mother, living with a special needs person can be very difficult. The last position I took accommodated me for 2 years by allowing me to work 4 10-hour days with 3 days off. My husband worked weekends so someone was always with Bob. Then, the needs of my job changed, but my personal needs did not. I was politely told that either I gave up my 4 days for 5 or I could leave.
I didn't want to leave. I loved my job. But I loved Bobby more.
And you would think adoption professionals would be more understanding! Not so… consider this, if even people involved in adoption can’t deal with a special child or adult, how can you expect anyone else?
a. One month, one day, one year, 10 years? Adoption can take a long time and there are adoption professionals that will tell you a domestic adoption can be accomplished within months and sometimes it can - but only rarely.
- b. Don't allow anyone to misguide you or play with your emotions. Chances are the people you are talking to are SALES people. They know all the right words to say and will tell you just what you want to hear. They know each and every button a potential adoptive parent will have. Be very careful and while those miraculous fast adoptions do exit, remember they exist very rarely.
a. Every adoption professional has his or her own specialty. Attorneys handle the legal work and birthmothers, social workers handle the home studies, and facilitators handle birthmothers. Only agencies can give you all three necessities. It’s a bit like buying ala cart if you do not choose an agency and the only person who can make that decision for you and your family - is you.
b. Three important questions to ask adoption professionals:
- How many adoptions do you do in one year?
- What happens to the money you will pay?
- How long is the contract for?
If, for example the adoption professional has 800 current waiting families of which you will be 801 and someone later that afternoon will be 802 and they only do 100 adoptions a year, what do you realistically believe your chances of adoption are?
If the money is not placed into an escrow account be wary. If the money is used to pay for daily operational expenses, be careful. That means there isn’t any back-up for you and if the adoption professional goes out of business it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for you to get any of your money back. A fiscally responsible adoption professional is in a better position to complete an adoption than one who isn’t.
One year? Two years? Forever?
Forever is better since you are paying for a service that may or may not give you a child. Realistically, some couples will be unable to adopt so 3-5 years is OK as long as some of your money is refundable. Anyone who keeps $10,000.00 or more for 3 years, doesn’t find a birth mother for you, and wants to keep all your money after the contract runs out, would make me very uncomfortable.
All these things must be taken into consideration and always, no matter how much you want a child, you must be very careful and ask the right questions.
Find someone who can help you with the legal aspects, the home study, and the birthmother in one all-inclusive piece. Try not to pay ala cart as it will be much more expensive. Adoptions are less expensive on the West Coast versus the East Coast and an adoption in your own state is less expensive that an out-of- state adoption.
And while the hurdles and bumps may at times seem overwhelming, if you stick with it, you will find the child meant to complete your family.