Bringing a new adopted child to a loving home is a momentous occasion. A successful adoption is a wonderful moment, one that requires a considerable amount of patience and time. Parents considering an adoption should develop an understanding of the process and the various steps they need to take before they start a new family. BCFS System, a nonprofit organization that offers an array of services for parents and kids, offers tips for parents who want to adopt but are unsure about how to start.
The organization’s first tip for parents is to engage in a period of self-reflection. Adoption is a massive emotional, financial, and personal commitment, one that deserves consideration and time. Parents should ask themselves and their partner questions about why they want to adopt, if they’re ready for the responsibility, and if they can provide a loving and stable home life for a child. This self-reflection is not intended to discourage parents from adoption, but simply to provide insights to those that might not yet be ready to proceed, and to reaffirm the feelings of parents that are certain adoption is right for them.
After parents are committed to the process, BCFS System then recommends they learn about the two main pathways to adoption. These are traditional adoption agencies and “independent” adoptions conducted by a specialized lawyer. Parents should understand that independent adoptions are more restricted in some localities compared to agency-run adoptions. An agency adoption is ideal for parents that want a partner that handles the bulk of the paperwork and other procedural tasks for the adoption, while independent adoptions are best suited for people who want a more “hands on” approach.
Many parents leverage the foster care system for an adoption. There are hundreds of thousands of foster care kids in the United States, and a significant portion of them are available for adoption. Foster care adoptions can often happen quickly compared to other adoption pathways. Parents adopting a foster child need to complete training and certifications to ensure they’re prepped to handle the unique challenges that can come when a child leaves foster care and enters a new home.
Parents that are learning about the adoption process and the various pathways should determine the type of child they’d like to adopt. Perhaps they’re only interested in adopting a toddler or infant, instead of an older child or teenager. Other parents might be open to adopting a child from a different race or cultural background. Parents should talk closely with each other to determine their preferred adopted child to ensure they’re on the same page and can provide the adoption agency with needed context to help them find a perfect match.