What to consider before an adoption

Adoption, just like pregnancy, is a life-changing event that should not be entered into without serious thought and contemplation. Some things you should consider before adopting a child are:

  • Do you have the financial ability to adopt a child? Adoptions can vary greatly in cost, ranging from fully-subsidized adoptions via state agencies to more than $30,000 for domestic infant and international adoptions. Fortunately, qualified parents are eligible for an adoption tax credit ($11,650 in 2008), and many states and employers offer additional benefits to assist with adoption costs.
  • Do you have the financial ability to raise a child? The only thing that may rival the challenges of raising a child is the cost of paying for one. A federal study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that a family making approximately $70,000 a year will spend over $250,000 to raise a child from birth to age 17.
  • Are both you and your partner equally open to the idea of adoption? Just as in a pregnancy, adoption can be fraught with unexpected pitfalls and stressors. Before jumping into adopting with both feet, make sure that you can your partner are equally up for the task and will be fully supportive of each other.
  • Are you comfortable with the prospect of raising a child of a different race, ethnicity, or cultural background? While Caucasians make up the majority of prospective adoptive parents, the number of Caucasian babies available for adoption continues to shrink. Before adopting a child of another race or ethnicity, ask yourself difficult questions about whether you, your partner, or your friends and family have strongly-held beliefs about certain races and cultures that could adversely affect your relationship with a child.
  • Is it important to you that your child look like or share personality traits with you or your partner? Let’s face it: adopted children are more likely to resemble their birth parents than their adopted parents in both temperament and physical characteristics. If this is a significant problem for either you or your partner, consider whether adoption is the best option for your family.
  • How will your extended family and friends react to the idea of adoption? Adopting a child doesn’t mean just welcoming a child into your immediate family, it means integrating a child into your extended family and network of friends. Consider whether your family and friends would be as welcoming to an adopted child as they would be to your biological child.
  • If you are adopting because of infertility, would you consider adoption otherwise? Parents should never feel like they are being forced into adoption or that adoption is the second-best option to a biological child. Like pregnancy, the adoption process should be filled with joy and anticipation for both the prospective parents and the adopted child.
  • If you have other children, are they open and accepting of adoption? The process of bonding with an adopted child is not just between parents and child, but between the child and the entire family. Many private and state agencies offer orientation programs for siblings to prepare them for the entrance of an adopted child into the family.

If this list of considerations seems daunting, never fear. Many private and state adoption agencies hold orientation sessions and parenting classes to help prospective adoptive parents resolve these issues satisfactorily before being placed with an adopted child.  You may also consult with an adoption lawyer to learn more about the process.

 

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