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Exploring your options: Adoption

Parenting is an intense and exhilarating – not to mention exhausting – journey. The path to becoming a parent can take many forms, including through adoption.

There are lots of reasons people choose adoption. Some people have concerns about passing down inherited health problems; some have medical reasons that prevent them from becoming pregnant; some simply don’t want to carry a child. And all want to provide a loving home for a little one who is already in this world.

Regardless of the journey that landed you on adoption as the choice for expanding your family, it is a tremendous gift and responsibility. You are giving a home and, what’s more, a future, to a baby or child that may not otherwise have had one. Let’s talk about the adoption process.

The adoption process

The first step to pursuing adoption is to understand the landscape. Some people think adoption may be quicker or more cost effective than seeking fertility care including IVF, but in fact the adoption process can take a very long time. The average time it takes to place a child in an adoptive home is anywhere from six to eighteen months. The legal process of adopting the child and securing full protections for your family can take another several months to a year on top of that.

Similarly, the average cost of an adoption in the U.S. is somewhere in the $50,000 to $60,000 range. Of course, the time and cost will depend on a number of factors, including where you are looking to adopt from – whether within the U.S. or elsewhere – and the other criteria you are considering. If you are LGBTQ+ or a single parent, be mindful of religious foster or adoption agencies that could turn you away.

Set expectations

It’s important to understand that foster care is distinct from adoption. Some think that you can become a foster parent as the path of least resistance to adopting the child you are fostering. But it doesn’t always, or even often, work out that way. For one, any number of unforeseen circumstances can arise when you’re fostering, including the return of the child’s biological parents or legal next of kin. If you find yourself in a situation where you are able to adopt a child you are fostering, that process can take anywhere from months to a year or more. 

The actual adoption process can include things like meeting with and being interviewed by adoption agencies, including home visits from an accredited social worker. You may have to give references to people who can attest to your character, share your financial documents, and undergo a background check. 

Provide extra TLC

Once you have gone through the adoption process and welcomed a baby or child into your family, it’s important to meet them where they are. Understanding that our children come through us, not from us is a helpful mindset. Babies, and particularly older children who have been through the foster care system or who have otherwise had traumatic experiences, may require special care. 

You may need to invest in extra medical and mental health care for your child. You may also need to acknowledge that your child comes from a different cultural background with different norms. Making space for your adopted child to express themselves and be fully themselves is an important accommodation. That can include anything from getting books that reflect their background to learning how to incorporate people, languages, or customs into your family’s life that will help them connect with their place or culture of origin.

Adoption is a beautiful option for growing your family. No step on the path to becoming or being a parent is easy, and adoption is no exception. But, as they say, nothing good in life comes easy.

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