The question I get the most from so many people is, “So I know we want to adopt. What do we do next?”
It’s a loaded question. One a short little Facebook message or Instagram DM doesn’t have words for. So on this last day of National Adoption Awareness Month, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned through our experiences.
Please know, I do not claim to be an expert. Nor do I believe the ways mentioned below are the only ways. I am simply going to throw some information out to you that will hopefully give you a place to begin your own research.
After we knew we were ready to adopt, I literally typed this same question into google, and the results were extremely overwhelming. So I am going to try to break it down for you in a way that helped me understand best. Hopefully it will be a great beginning place for you to start!
I want to adopt… Now what?
First, there are several different avenues to take in growing your family through adoption. You'll need to decide if you want to adopt internationally or domestic. There are several factors you need to take into consideration even in this. There is also infant domestic adoption, embryo adoption, and foster to adopt. Let's start with international adoption.
- International adoptions are normally more expensive and more paperwork is required. You would obviously be traveling to another country, in some cases, several times to pick up your sweet one. In most international cases (and many domestic) you will have little to no medical background on the child. Most children are over the age of one and have special needs ranging anywhere from very mild to severe.
- You'll need to decide which country you feel lead to. Every country has adoption requirements. Some countries require you to have children already, some require you to have no children. Some require you to make a certain income, be a certain age, or have been married for a certain number of years. And then some countries require a certain number of trips to the country or stays in the country as well. Researching what criteria you meet and what you are capable of, will help you narrow down the right country for you.
- Once you do that, you'll need to find an adoption agency that works with that country. Or, find an agency you really like, and see what countries they work with.
- Once you reach out to your agency, they will walk you through each step of the way. We haven't adopted internationally, yet (I would really like to one day). So I can't help you with the rest. But I highly encourage you to find someone who has, reach out to them, and ask them to wrap around you in the process.
Infant Domestic Adoption
- This is the way we adopted both of our miracle babies. There are several avenues you can take in domestic adoption.
- You can use an agency who works with you, the expectant mothers, and in conjunction with lawyers (This is what we did. We used Bethany Christian Services). I personally like agencies because I think they have all parties in mind. Our agency had an expectant mother counselor that solely worked with expectant mothers. After placement, our agency offered her a lifetime of counseling free of charge. This was very important to us. We also had an adoption worker that walked alongside us in the process that was very helpful. There are some really awesome agencies and some that aren't so awesome. Do your research and if you can, talk to people who have used them. Once you decide on which agency you want to use, reach out to them and they will lead you through each step of the way. I'll write another post soon about that general process so you know what to expect.
- You can also only use an adoption attorney. There are many lawyers that work in conjunction with other lawyers and agencies across the country. They are obviously more skilled in the laws of adoption and lend you legal advice along the way.
- Then, there are adoption consultants. These consultants work with agencies and attorneys across the country, but in the meantime educate and support you in the process. They often help you in creating your adoption profile and offer emotional support throughout the process.
- After IVF there are millions of embryos sitting in freezers across the country. Parents can decide to either discard of the embryos, commit to using them, or donate them. When parents donate the embryos they can be placed for adoption. Depending on your journey to adoption, this could be an awesome adoption opportunity. The requirements of embryo adoption would be for you to be able to carry a baby. You would still need to find an agency that offers embryo adoption. You would go through the same process as domestic adoption. You would need to find a fertility center that worked with your agency. Then the process is much like IVF. This is an awesome avenue that isn't as well known, but still adoption just the same.
Foster to Adopt
- This gets tricky and is a hot topic to talk about. If the sole purpose for you is to adopt, foster care might not be your best option. It is often the cheapest way to adopt and that is normally why people immediately think of fostering, but is certainly never guaranteed that adoption would happen. The sole purpose in foster care is reunification to the biological family. If that doesn't happen, the child's parental rights would be terminated and then they would look at relatives of the child to adopt. If that option isn't available, the child would then be available for adoption. This is where you come in and could foster to adopt. You would use an agency through your state to pursue a child that is legally free and currently in the foster care system. Then you would go through the adoption process.
It's a lot isn't it? I hope this bird's eye view gave you some information as you're just starting out. But make sure to do your own research and reach out to others around you that have adopted.
My greatest advice to you would be this,
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:21 NIV
It's important for us to be informed. Hosea 4:6 says that we can be destroyed by a lack of knowledge. But at the end of day, if you are walking closely with Father, you will hear His voice behind you telling you exactly which path to take.
And that path will be the perfect one for you, because that will be the road that leads to your baby.