November is National Adoption Awareness Month – I am so happy to have some guest writers who are sharing their insights and stories about adoption. Today Ashlene from Adoption Center of Hope is sharing a post on how to adopt. So many people think adoption is such a beautiful option to grow a family but are overwhelmed by where to start. I remember when we wanted to know how to adopt we had no idea what to search first. I am so thankful that we have some of the first things you should consider when adoption is on your heart or mind. Please try to not be overwhelmed to the point that you put it off – I hope this is a starting point for you – please read the stories that our guest bloggers have shared about their adoptions, it will inspire you to investigate the adoption process further. We have shared ways to pay for your adoption fees and also FREE adoption options through foster care in our How to afford adoption article and adoption fundraising ideas article. Adoption is very close to our family’s hearts and we wish more people could experience it! There are over 140 MILLION orphans in the world – I bet somewhere out there a little one (or a big one!) is the perfect fit for you and you are the perfect fit for them! With no further delay – here is Ashlene sharing 6 simple steps to get you started when you are wondering ‘ how to adopt ‘…….
Adopt they say it’ll be easy they say! Well we know that isn’t 100% true! However, if you plan and prepare it can be a bit easier.
How to Adopt
Step 1: Choose what type of Adoption you’re looking for:
-Infant, Older Child, Sibling Group
-Domestic, Foster, International…
-Open, semi-open or closed (be sure to define what these mean for you personally with your adoption coordinator – open may mean calls and visits a couple times a year, it may mean birth mama visits on birthdays and holidays, it may mean cards and letters – it’s just good to think about what open, semi-open, or closed adoption means to you and know what you are comfortable with.)
Step 2: Consider your budget, this will likely need adjusting but it’s a good place to start. Adoption can be completely free in some cases (through the foster care system there are over 100,000 legally FREE orphans – this means these kids have had all legal ties permanently severed in the courts from their birth family – they are waiting for families right NOW!, In addition to that there are hundreds of thousands of children in the foster care system that do not have those rights severed yet – they may very likely return to their first family, but they may not. A social worker can help you decide if this is a path you are willing to consider ). Domestic adoption as well as International Adoption typically runs in the tens of thousands of dollars – this includes legal fees, travel, paperwork, social workers fees, adoption coordinators and agency fees. Keep in mind that every adoption (foster care, domestic private, and international) is allowed a tax credit the year after your adoption is final in the amount of $13,000+ – every single one! Those who adopt from Foster Care have an opportunity to save for college or provide kids with counseling, or anything they want with that money! In the case of an adoption that costs quite a bit, it is good to know that tax write off is waiting for you in case the adoption process straps your finances. Also research grants, loans and fundraising ideas- getting your family and friends involved in your journey can be an amazing experience for everyone!
Step 3: Decide what types of situations you are open to: special needs, drug/alcohol exposure, race, gender, multiples etc. Be sure to do your research on the situations that make you uncomfortable. You may be surprised to see what you are capable of handling. Note, there is very likely no question or concern that you have that an adoption coordinator or agency has not heard. It is good to do your research – not every child is a perfect fit for every family, but don’t rule out everything right away. Keep in mind the more open you are the more quickly you will be matched. If you are open to a sibling set and higher ages you might be matched very quickly, if you only want a newborn without any exposure to anything scary it will likely be a longer wait.
Step 4: Think about who you want to work with:
Agency, Facilitator, Consultants Attorney. All of these options come with benefits and set backs. PLEASE do your research and work with someone who has all parties (and not money) and the center of their motivation. Each of the options are going to have a cost involved – but some will charge more than others and make promises other’s can’t….. be wary of such claims. Emotions run high in adoption and sadly some prey on these emotions.
An organization licensed by the state to conduct home studies (pre-placement assessments) matches between expectant parents considering adoption with adoptive parents and do most of the paperwork necessary to complete an adoption.
A person or organization hired by hopeful adoptive parents to share their profile with expectant mothers who are considering adoption. Some organizations offer a wide range of services such as pregnancy support, transportation for expectant mother, attorney selection, hospital/adoption plan creation, assistance with developing your open/semi-open adoption relationship, post adoption counseling for birthmoms, ongoing support for adoptive family to navigate through the adoption relationship, etc.
Some facilitators only provide their matching services to an adoptive family and then you take care of the other necessities of the match.
An individual or company that provides you with a list of agencies that may be a good fit for your family. They also provide you with each agencies requirements and fees. Some of the agencies will waive the upfront application fee to consultant clients so you are not paying an application fee for an agency you never match with. Once you decide on the agencies you would like to work with the consultant provides those agencies with your profile and information.
When working solely with an adoption attorney services will vary. Typically an adoption attorney will keep your profile on hand to show to any expectant mother seeking an adoptive family that comes into their office. If you are chosen by an expectant mother then they provide and execute the necessary legal paperwork for the adoption.
Step 5: Based on these answers then you’ll know what type of homestudy you will need. So, get started on that:)
Also known as a pre-placement assessment. The homestudy qualifies you as an eligible family to adopt. The homestudy provider learns about your thoughts on parenting, your family dynamics and your ability to provide for the needs of your child(ren). Please keep in mind the home study provider is not there to disqualify you from adopting they want you to adopt!
Step 6: Interview potential adoption professionals. They will be working for you and you should feel comfortable with them, their mission, their services and their ethics!
Ashlene Williams is a mother blessed by open adoption twice! She lives in North Carolina with her amazing husband Chad their son Zakai and daughter, Chalynn. She enjoys sharing and being involved in all things adoption. She is also the Lead Adoption Coordinator at Adoption Center of Hope a nationwide adoption service provider.
No doubt this has helped but also lead to more questions about adoption! Please check out our adoption section on our site here and also don’t hesitate to contact Adoption Center of Hope – we actually were blessed by Adoption Center of Hope with our youngest’s adoption – and we have made life long friends with people there! I do not work for them, but I know they are happy to answer any questions, even if you decide to take your adoption in another direction. Thank you Ashlene for taking the time out of your day to share some things you should think about when you are considering adoption!