Thinking of Adopting? Some Things To Consider

I know several people who have either adopted a child or are considering adoption. Sometimes they did this because they couldn't have biological children, but others simply had a desire to give a home to a child in need of one. Whatever the reason for considering adoption, there are several things that any prospective adopting parent needs to think about before starting the process. It can be rather complicated, so it helps to have an idea of what you are getting yourself into before you invest the time, energy and money it takes to adopt a child. Here are some things to ask yourself:
Domestic or International? If this is a question for you (i.e. you don't already know the child, etc), this decision is probably the first one any adoptive parent needs to make because of all the nuances involved. I am going to cover these in another blog post.
Age of the child. Some people might assume that parents looking to adopt are looking for a baby. However, there are some parents who prefer an older child. On one hand, you might not have to deal with things like diapers and toilet training for an older child. The wait usually isn't as long as for a baby, and you'll find out about any special needs sooner. On the other hand, older children may have emotional problems that can get in the way of properly bonding with you. You may also have to 'un-teach' things if the child has any habits or values you don't agree with. It's a very personal decision.
Costs. We all know that raising a child can be really expensive, but this is even more true when you consider everything that goes into the adoption process. The actual costs will vary from agency to agency (domestic or international), but you need to ask for a breakdown of the different fees you will be paying. These fees cover things such as legal costs, physicals for the parents, the application itself and any supervision/home visits required before and after placement of a child. Some agencies will have a 'sliding scale' based on the family's income, but not always. If you're adopting an infant, you may also have to pay for the medical care and living expenses of the birth mother during her pregnancy. Like I said, the actual amounts vary. Public agencies usually cost less than private agencies.
Can you give the child what s/he needs?  In addition to the costs, you need to think about whether you can give the child the emotional and/or psychological support he needs. Children up for adoption-particularly older children in the public systems-often have problems with learning and socializing due to the disorders and negative experiences that put them 'in the system' to begin with. For instance, a friend of mine and his wife adopted a special-needs child. They were able to give him the type of attention and understanding he needed because they had the same disorder he had (bipolar), but this isn't normative. In fact, some agencies will not allow a parent who has a diagnosis like this to adopt. In addition to the emotional and psychological support, some children require special services such as therapy, medications or special schools. A potential adoptive parent needs to consider whether or not they can handle these things. Some public systems will help parents with the costs of/access to these services, so be sure to ask the agency you are consulting to see if any aid is available. If you are adopting a child of another race or nationality, you will also need to consider how you will give your child a sense of pride in his/her origins and how to handle problems such as racism and any questions s/he will be likely to hear. For more on this, check out

As you can see, there are many things parents should consider when they are thinking about adopting a child. No one can make these decisions for you, but it does help to know what questions to ask yourself and any agencies/social workers you consult. Good luck!

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