The family is an essential part of the human experience.
It is for this reason that many people who are looking to start a family, or looking to expand their current family, often turn to adoption.
Adoption can be a beautiful, life-affirming process for children and their adoptive parents.
That said, adoption is seldom cut and dry. The entire process can bring about some real issues you may not have considered.
If you’ve found yourself wondering, “should I adopt?” Here are eight things you must know before starting the process.
- Adoption is Not Easy
We’ve all seen those movies where a couple wanders into an orphanage and walks out with a child a few hours later.
Hollywood likes to portray adoption through a rose-colored lens. But, the actual adoption process often takes much longer and is not nearly as simple.
Besides that, adoption can also come with a lot of emotional strain for the child as well as the adoptive parents.
It can be easy to slip into the “just adopt” trap. But, if you’re considering undergoing the process, you need to remember just how difficult it can be.
- Adoption Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
In some situations, adoption can be a highly expensive undertaking – a fact that is especially true in the case of international or private adoptions.
These kinds of adoptions can run upwards of $40,000 in overall costs.
But, there are other ways to adopt a child that can cost very little or even nothing at all.
Adopting a child or children through foster care can be much cheaper than other forms of adoption. On top of that, adopting through the foster system can come with a monthly stipend the family can use up until they finish the adoption process.
- Biological Parents Don’t Need to Be Absent
There’s a common belief that if a child is being placed for adoption, then their biological parents are either deceased or unfit to have contact.
The truth is, most orphans in the U.S. wind up with a family member and the parents of most children placed for adoption are still alive.
Birth-parents can come from a wide variety of circumstances or backgrounds. The situation could be that the parent feels they are too young or financially incapable of caring for a child.
Every adoption is different, and whether the biological parent maintains contact with the child is up to you.
That said, allowing the biological parent to remain a part of the child’s life can be a very positive experience, both for yourself and for your child.
- Adoption Scams are Real
If you decide to adopt, you should be ready to field a few calls from potential scammers.
These scammers are usually seeking money from hopeful adoptive parents. But, there are a few who are looking for attention but who can be as harmful as those seeking financial reward.
While some scams can be as easy to spot as those phony, “inheritance” emails we’ve all received, others can be a little trickier to figure out.
In most cases, you can trust your gut. If something seems off, then it probably is.
If you’re worried about getting scammed, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
First off, if a prospective parent contacts you directly, you should get proof of pregnancy before agreeing to anything. You should also hire an attorney to handle payments and custody.
Finally, you should never, under any circumstances, send money directly to a prospective parent. A fact that is especially true if you do not have proof of pregnancy and you haven’t consulted a lawyer.
Remember that scams can happen to anyone. But, if you take the right precautions, you’ll be able to protect yourself and move on with the adoption process.
- You May Want to Consider Counseling
As we said before, adoption can be an emotionally trying process, for everyone involved.
Connecting specialists with experience helping adoptive parents can make the transition much smoother.
This kind of counseling can also be beneficial to the child or children who are being adopted.
Through therapy, the child can get more comfortable with or get to know their adoptive parents. They will subsequently be able to settle into their new environment much easier.
- A Real Family Doesn’t Have to Be “Traditional”
Adoption can come with the stigma that your family is somehow less, “real,” if you don’t have a biological connection with your children.
But, the real connection between a parent and a child lies in something much more profound than genetics.
A real family can consist of any group of people — not just the traditional mom, dad and two and a half kids. All you need to make a family is love and respect everything else is up to you.
- Be Ready for an Adjustment Period
If we look back to Hollywood, it might seem like once you sign the papers and bring the child home, everyone settles in almost instantly.
Again, this is pretty far from the truth. In the real world, it can take some time for your adopted child or children to feel at home and comfortable in their new space.
It can be pretty disheartening to see the child unhappy, or even scared, in what you believe to be a safe place. If this occurs, you should remember that adoption is about the child’s needs, not your own.
Counseling can help adopted children adjust to their new home. But, ultimately this stage of the process can take a lot of time and will take a lot of patience from the adoptive parents.
- Adoption is a Lifelong Commitment
Finally, while you may want a child right now, at this moment, you might change your mind in a few weeks.
When you decide to adopt a child, you are signing yourself up for a lifetime commitment. Being a parent is a 24/7 job, there are no breaks, and it doesn’t end when your child turns 18.
Adoption and raising a child can be an immensely enriching and fulfilling experience. But, as much as you gain when you adopt, you also lose the freedom that comes with being childless.
For many, the gains of adoption far outweigh the costs. But, you should set aside some time to sit down and have an honest conversation with yourself and your partner about what you’d be willing to give up.
“Should I Adopt?”
Adoption can be a long and arduous process. But, for many, the rewards can be more than worth the trouble.
If you’ve been thinking, “should I adopt?” or are ready to undergo the process and would like some legal advice, we can help.
Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.