Considering Adoption? This Should Help

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I have two biological children and three adopted children, one a private adoption from Iowa, one from Haiti and a child adopted out of foster care. When people hear that I’ve adopted, many interested persons have asked questions about adoption. Here are some of the questions I am frequently asked.

Can anyone adopt?
Most people can adopt. Previously, single, handicapped and older adults were discouraged from adopting. Now many agencies are willing to work with them. However, they may be limited in what type of child they can adopt. Some agencies do not want more than a 40-year age difference between the parents and child so the parents may have to adopt an older child than they had hoped. Sometimes families with biological children are not eligible for infants.

What are some requirements for adoptive parents?
Adoptive parents generally have to be over 23 years of age, have a steady income and a home that meets state safety requirements. Married couples are usually required to have been married at least three years. Adults with a criminal record or abuse charges may find it difficult to adopt. Some agencies will work with those with a criminal record if it has been many years since the charges. Most agencies require a psychological profile — a verbal or written test of personality, character traits and so on.

Is there a lot of paperwork?
Yes! Agencies require a home study. This includes your educational and work background, your past and present family life, financial standing and references. Christian organizations often require a statement of faith and pastoral reference. In addition to this, you might be required to have a physical and TB test. You will probably be fingerprinted and fill out papers for a police check and abuse screening. Overseas adoptions require additional paperwork.
How much does it cost?
That varies according to the type of adoption. Some states have many children in foster homes who are available for adoption. They may be over 4 years old, in sibling groups or have special needs. State adoptions are usually inexpensive, ranging from $50 to $500. Sometimes the state will give families adopting a special needs child a one-time grant or a monthly per diem to help with the additional expenses required for care of a special needs child such as therapy, counseling and so on.

Adopting from an agency usually costs $4,000 to $20,000. This fee covers the home study, legal fees, medical fees, counseling and follow-up visits. An independent adoption using a lawyer is about the same. Adopting a child from overseas costs between $8,000-$20,000. It includes the same fees as an agency adoption, plus a country fee, usually $3,000-$9,000, travel, visas and blood tests and physical for the child.

How long does it take?
Again, that varies according to the type of adoption. It can take between nine months and three years, maybe longer if you desire a certain type child. Waiting time for a healthy white infant is usually the longest. Adopting a child from overseas can also require a long wait while paperwork is translated into another language and approved by a foreign government.

How do I get started?
Agencies are listed in the phone book (under social services), online and in reference books. Charlotte Parent includes an adoption agency list in both of its annual publications: The Ultimate Family Resource Guide and the Baby Guide. Contact Adoptive Families of America and request their free guide to adoption. It will explain the different types of adoption and give a state-by-state list of adoption agencies (listed in resources).
Adoption is not always easy. Carefully consider your options and decide if you have room in your heart for a child needing a home. Adoption isn’t for everyone but it is wonderful way to build a family for some.

Adoption Resources
Adoptive Families. Bimonthly magazine and resources with , state-by-state listing of adoption agencies and more. www.adoptivefamilies.com.

Adopting Your Child by Nancy Thalia Reynolds. Everything you need to know for adopting within the United States, overseas and step-children.

Adoption: Parenthood Without Pregnancy by Charlene Canape, Henry Holt and Co. Information about the types of adoption, children available for adoption, raising adopted children and adoption by singles is given.

The Adoption Resource Book by Lois Gilmore, Harper and Row. This book gives all the information families need to get started in the adoption process, including state and regional addresses for waiting children.

Raising Adopted Children: A Manual for Adoptive Parents by Lois Ruskai Melina, Harper Perennial. This book provides support and advice for parents of adopted children such as how to talk to your child about his adoption, how to inform his school and how parents and adopted children bond.

Katrina L. Cassel is a freelance writer and author. She lives with her husband, five of their children and an assortment of pets in the Florida panhandle.