“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle”– Valerie Harper
According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, there are over 125,000 children who are eligible for adoption. Some of those wait an average of four years before finding their forever home. If you are considering adoption, there are plenty of kids in the US and throughout the world who would love to call you theirs. However, adoption is not something to take lightly, and finding the right child for you takes some time and effort. Take a moment and picture your future child. Is it a tiny newborn, wrapped tightly in a blanket? Is it a toddler, rambunctious and ready to take on the world? Is it a teenager, one who puts on a strong front but deep inside he or she is waiting to be loved? Is your future child from a foreign land, waiting for you to immerse yourself into his or her culture and bring him or her home to the US?
There are so many options when it comes to adoption. Whether you choose to go through a private agency or through your local county, you will have to decide what type of child you are comfortable adopting. Making the decision to adopt is not an easy one. You are opening you heart, family, and finances to a stranger. No matter what type of adoption you choose, there are a few steps you need to complete before bringing home your new child.
Steps to Adopt
1. Educate yourself! There are so many steps to adoption, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Read books, follow blogs, speak to someone who has adopted before. Ask as many questions possible. Make sure you are confident in taking the next steps to adopt and in what your reason for adoption is.
2. Select an Agency. No matter what type of adoption you do, you will need to work with a licensed agency in your state. It’s best to contact several agencies to see which one fits you best. Some good questions to ask them are about their fees, the types of children they place, how they help and assist families, how long they take with the process, and what success stories they have had. Use the power of the Internet to look up reviews and ask around to make sure you find an agency that feels right. The agency will be a major part of your life for a few years. They will learn personal information about you, so don’t feel pressured to move forward until you’re sure you can trust them.
3. Complete Your Home Study. A home study is required for any type of adoption agency you choose to go with. It is a series of meetings and conversations you will have with your agency’s social worker. They will ask you to provide copies of birth certificates, marriage license, DMV reports, financial reports, background checks, and personal references. Once all the paperwork has been cleared, your social worker will walk through your home to ensure safety measures are insured (making sure medications, cleaning supplies, knives, and guns are properly secured out of a child’s reach). Your social worker will help point out possible safety concerns and make sure both the home and you are prepared to welcome a child.
The important thing to remember is that this process does not need to be scary. The social worker is not there to judge you; they want to make sure everything is safe and prepared for your future child. This is an important part of your adoption process. So many families stress out during this time and, honestly, the stress is not needed. The agency wants you to succeed. They are on your team. Allow them to help you through this process.
4. Wait for the child that is right for you! So many families feel like they have to say yes to any child that is presented to them. Worried that if they don’t, they will never bring home their forever baby. Please understand this is not true! Make sure the situation feels right for you, and that you and the birth parents have the same plans and ideas for how this adoption would go. If it doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. There will be other children available. The right child will arrive at the right time and feel perfect for you.
So now that you are informed on how to get through the adoption process…now let’s look at what type of babies are waiting for adoption.
Babies Waiting for Adoption – Newborns
When most couples first take steps to adopt, they imagine themselves bringing home their newborn right from the hospital. Even though sometimes the wait is a little longer to adopt a newborn baby, it is definitely possible. Your best chance to adopt a newborn baby is through a private adoption agency.
The agency you work with will help you create a parent profile. This will be given to prospective birth parents who fall within your specifications. This is basically a story of who you are. This is your time to stand out, share your story, and help the birth families understand who you are. Check out some ideas on other parent profiles here.
On average, families wait two to three years to have a child placed with them. A lot of that depends on the how selective your parent profile is. Age, race, family backgrounds, and medical concerns all need to be considered when figuring out which child would be the best fit for you and your family.
Babies Waiting for Adoption – Special Needs
Truthfully, I never realized how many kids with special needs are waiting to be adopted. It wasn’t until we welcomed into our home our amazing little girl who happened to have Down syndrome. We didn’t know it at the time, but the agency struggled with finding a home for her for almost a month. Even though she was a newborn (the typical preference for most adoptions), countless families passed her up due to her diagnosis. You might think that sounds horrible, but there are thousands of babies and children just like her who are hoping for a forever home.
Considering a child with special needs takes a lot of consideration. Some disabilities and disorders require multiple medical specialists and training. The thought of adopting a child with special needs can feel terrifying and overwhelming. Trust me—I understand that! But it is often more manageable than you would expect. Many of the children who are labeled “special needs” are very healthy. Keep in mind, most agencies are not approved to place children who have extensive medical needs. Another thing to remember is children who have experienced trauma could be labeled as a “special needs” child simply because they require extra care and preparation when being adopted.
If you are considering adopting a child with special needs, the following organizations help match prospective families with waiting families.
Waiting for Adoption – Older Children
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 125,422 children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted in 2018. Around 62% of those were 5 years old and older. Each year, roughly 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system, never given the chance to be part of a real family. These kids are at increased risk of poor education outcomes, homelessness, drug or alcohol abuse, and unemployment.
Often, families are hesitant to bring in an older child for multiple reasons. We know that most teenagers are accepting and loveable…it is true, though, that older children can come from foster care with a larger range of issues cause by trauma and heartbreak. Many children who are in the foster care system have been taken from their parents multiple times. They’ve experienced heartbreak, abandonment and have had to grow up way too soon. Some have trust and behavioral issues, and they struggle to accept that someone could love them.
My point is, older children take a lot of love. Yes, it takes time and effort to gain their trust, but once you do, it is so worth it! These children deserve a chance to know what it is like to be part of a real family—to have someone they can call their own. If you have it in your heart to adopt an older child, please consider it.
Another benefit to adopting older children through the foster care system is the cost. Private adoptions can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 compared to less than $500 if you go through your local county office. Obviously, this cost difference is a factor to consider for so many families and couples. Also, some counties have programs that even wave all fees in order to help find ready families.
Contact your local agency to find out what programs are available and the average fees involved. Before we brought our daughter home, I never imagined our family being able to adopt. The fear of the unknown, cost, the lengthy process, it all scared me away. We adopted through our local agency and because of the lower cost, we were able to bring our daughter home.
Babies Waiting for Adoption – International Adoption
There are many reasons couples consider international adoption. Many are drawn to the fact that they do not have to worry about crossing paths with the child’s biological family. Or they’re drawn to the fact that the wait time is (on average) shorter than if you adopt through the US, ranging from six months to two years. Or the fact that children in other countries are usually placed in harsh orphanages and experience a lack of medical or physical care while they are wards of their country. It’s easy to feel a tug at your heart when you hear stories of how children are cared for internationally while they are awaiting adoption.
Depending on the country, some children are at greater risk of sex trafficking, disease, malnutrition, and limited or no education. So, while children in the US foster care experience some trauma, they do not face the same horrors children face overseas. Some feel they are called to save these children and give them a better chance at life.
Another reason some consider international adoption is because they have a personal connection to a country or want to immerse themselves in a new culture. When you adopt from another country, you will be expected to be familiar with the country’s culture and way of life. Some countries require you to spend some time there in the country while the finalization of paperwork is completed.
International adoption is not necessarily cheaper than domestic adoptions. Once you consider travel fees, documentation fees, lawyer fees, the cost of international adoption can range from $15,000 to $50,000.
Speaking to an agency that is familiar with international adoptions is the best way to begin your journey. Different countries have different requirements and expectations. Making sure you are familiar with the entire process and know what is expected of you is exactly what the agency is there to help with.
This is a list of a few agencies that work with international adoptions:
No matter what path you take to begin your adoption journey, the right child is waiting for you. It may take a lot of time, patience, and effort, but adoption is completely possible for anyone at any stage of their lives. There are plenty of options and programs that help families adopt. Do not get overwhelmed by the cost and the process. If you are being drawn to adopt, do your research. Figure out what path is right for you and trust the process. There are thousands of children who need a home. Taking the steps to adoption is just a small way of changing the world. One child at a time.