The decision to adopt is an important and rewarding experience for any family. Raising an adopted child not only helps the child, but also helps a family grow. While adopting a child is a great opportunity, it also leads to many questions and some potential challenges. Attorneys, psychologists, and counselors at Kids In The House have answers to all adoption concerns.
The adoption process can seem daunting and overwhelming for any parent. Adoption attorney, Stephen Ravel, explains the first step for any family is to decide what kind of adoption they are looking to pursue. There are four different types of adoption:
1. International adoption with a private agency
2. Domestic adoption with a private agency
3. Foster-to-adopt system
4. Adoption attorney
Once you have chosen an adoption type, the individuals in those practices will help to make the adoption process easier.
Another important decision to make during this process is whether or not you should have an open adoption with the birth mother. Adoptive father, Scout Masterson, suggests setting up a birth plan meeting with the birth mother to discuss how open you want the adoption to be. He explains that their birth plan was “a two and a half hour meeting about what kinds of things we both expected out of the adoption, the birth mother, and us, as the adoptive parents.” You can discuss potential visits and photos to be shared throughout the child’s life. Your family’s decision really depends on everyone’s circumstances and should be made with the focus on what will be best for the child.
Many adoptive parents encourage parents to be open with their children about their adoption. Explaining adoption to children can be difficult, but life books are a great way to show them how they came to be part of your family. “A life book is sort of a scrap book that tells your child's adoption story and also your child's birth story, what it is you know of it,” explains therapist and adoptive mom Maureen Donley. “It's really important as an attachment tool because it provides a common place to explore that story, and it's a place that keeps it safe, and it allows your child the freedom to explore it on their own.”
Adopting older children through the foster-to-adopt system is also a great opportunity for families who have the resources to open their home to children in need. Jill Boyer, social worker, has worked with foster care children for over 25 years and has seen how amazing this program can be for children. “There are wonderful children who are waiting for homes, who need and want desperately to have permanent loving homes and who have maybe been in situations that have not supported them, have not been healthy, have not been safe,” she explains. “And they are looking for those families who are going to be there to help them to grow into wonderful human beings.” If you have considered becoming a foster care parent, talk with your county foster care system to see how you can become involved.