Parenting is not something that should be taken lightly. A parent is responsible for shaping, molding, and ensuring the child’s safety and health needs are met. A parent should be a child’s protector, supporter, and comfort throughout their lives. So, it makes sense that when you are considering adoption, certain requirements must be met.
Taking the steps toward adoption can feel overwhelming and confusing. Each state has its unique requirements and laws for adoption. You can check out specific state requirements and U.S. Adoption laws. However, even though each state’s requirements might vary, there are a few basic things that are overall required. Remember, when you start the process to adopt a child, your entire life will be turned upside down. You will share private information with strangers and become an open book to many. This is not something to take likely because a child’s life and wellbeing are on the line.
So, let’s take a look at the 5 basic requirements for adopting a child.
1. Financial Requirements for Adopting a Child
Ok, so everyone is aware that the cost of adoption is something that needs to be taken into consideration. Private adoptions can range from $20,000 to $40,000. These cost cover agency fees, legal fees, birth mother’s expenses, counseling fees, and the time it cost to advocate for both the birth family and prospective families.
Many families who choose to go through private adoptions use the help of grants or fundraisers to put together the funds. With a bit of creativity, determination, and persistence, anyone can save the money needed to go through private adoption. Many people use the power of social media to share their stories. From there, strangers are happy to help support the cost of the financial burden that adoption can bring. There are plenty of adoption guides that you can use to help get ideas.
If you choose to adopt through the foster care system, the financial responsibilities are drastically lower. Ranging from $500 to $1,000. This is because foster care is usually funded by the state and many organizations help fund foster care. Many prospective families chose to adopt through the foster system because roughly 400,000 kids are waiting to be adopted. The difference between private and foster adoption is that generally, the children in foster care are older. Those wanting a newborn prefer to go through private agencies.
Also, children in foster care are often removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse. Because of that, many worries about bringing in a child that has trauma to overcome. Others want to give a child a chance to know what it’s like to be part of a happy, healthy household. There is no right or wrong way to adopt. Check all your options and find the best agency or type of adoption that works for you.
2. Age Requirements for Adopting a Child
So, there isn’t just one specific answer to this section. Expectant parents do have the ability to set age preferences for their prospective adoptive parents. However, in the United States, there are not as many age restrictions as you might think. Many states (Colorado, Delaware, and Oklahoma) require adoptive parents to be 21 years or older. Some states (Georgia and Idaho) have a specific age of 25. Seven states (Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington) require prospective adoptive parents to be 18 years old to be eligible. In California, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Utah, the requirements are that the adoptive parents must be at least 10 years older than the child being adopted.
As far as older adults, states require a mental and physical evaluation to ensure the adult is prepared to take in a child.
3. Relationship Status Requirements for Adopting a Child.
Overall, in the majority of the 50 United States, any single adult or married couple is eligible to adopt. However, many agencies reserve infants and younger children for two-parent families. Also, birth parents more commonly pick two-parent families for their unborn children as well. That being said, a single adult can adopt successfully. Many agencies also openly accept couples who are in committed relationships yet are unmarried.
With the exception of Florida and Mississippi, states within the United States do not address an issue of adoption to gay and lesbian individuals or couples. However, even though states do not have laws preventing same-sex couple adoptions, judges and agencies have the right to deny a petition for adoption. Christian bases adoption agencies as well as other private agencies have a legal right to deny same-sex couples from adopting through their agency.
4. Health Factor Requirements for Adopting a Child
Once you begin your home study, you will be required to have a health physical completed and signed by your physician. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be prepared to run a marathon. Basically, they need to review your medical history in order to determine your healthy ability to raise and successfully parent a child. The basic physical exam will check your family’s medical history, height, weight, blood pressure, and determine in any further testing is needed.
A Mental health physical might be required as well through private agencies. This is simply to ensure that the child will be in a safe environment once he/she is placed with you. The important thing is to be open and honest with your agency. Even with your family history, they will not discount you simply because of possibly history issues. They will just note and make sure you are healthy and able to raise a child.
There is a little bit of controversy about those who have had or currently have cancer. Although many agencies will not disqualify a family due to a cancer diagnosis, many will encourage you to finish treatment before being placed with a child. This is mostly to ensure you are prepared and healthy enough to focus on a child.
If you have had cancer or have recently finished treatment, contact multiple agencies to ensure that they are willing to work with you. Ask if they have worked with other families with your condition and see if there are any speculations that you need to be aware of. Adoption agencies might require additional paperwork from your doctor which would include your expected prognosis, percentage of recurrence, and your physician’s approval for adoption.
You might assume that birth mothers would be hesitant to pick a family with a history of cancer, but that is not true. According to the American Cancer Society, some birth mothers actually feel more confident in choosing parents who understand what it is like to go through a difficult time. Do not let your diagnosis discourage you from adopting. Many families who have survived cancer have adopted children. You can learn more about adopting after cancer on Adoption.com.
5. Training Requirements for Adopting a Child
Ok, so you would think that just having the desire and heart to adopt a child is enough right? But truthfully, so much goes into bringing in a child. No matter what age a child is put up for adoption, they will grieve the loss of their birth family. Keep in mind, every child who has been adopted is special. They are strong, resilient, and determined. Often a child is forced to grow up sooner than they should and they become independent, self-sufficient, and stubborn. It is seen in infants who sleep through the night simply because they are used to no one coming to their needs. It’s the toddler who refuses food, puts themselves to bed, and never expects anyone to help soothe their needs. It’s the teenager who rebels, who tries to live their own lives and is against authority. Children who are adopted have each overcome
So, what does all of this have to do with training? You need to keep in mind that children who are adopted might need additional love and care than other children. Many agencies require their prospective families to complete training dealing with trauma, discipline, separation anxiety, and how to build trust. The agencies you work with might have a recommended reading list, classes they require you to attend, or conferences designed to help prepare you for your new child.
You will also be required to complete CPR and basic first aid training. This is to make sure that you will be prepared in the case of an emergency.
So Now What?
The important thing to remember when you first start the adoption process is that it takes time. My patience has never been more tested than during our adoption process. So much of this process is out of your hands and it involves a lot of waiting. Once all of your requirements are met, you will finally be able to complete your home study.
The home study consists of a very in-depth packet of questions that covers everything from your childhood, how you deal with stress and anger, and even details of your intimate relationships. You are expected to be open and honest about all aspects of your life and be willing to answer any red flags that might pop up. This home study also includes a walk-through of your home with your social worker. The social worker will make sure that every aspect of your home is safe and secure for a new child. They will point out any repairs that need to be made or adjusted, or safety concerns that might need to be addressed. Some simple things to keep in mind that you can look for in order to prepare are:
- Have medications and cleaning products safety secure in a locked cabinet or above reach to a small child.
- Make sure all windows have locks and screens to present a child from falling out.
- Make sure the water heater is set at the appropriate degree.
- Knives need to be either locked away or out of harms reach
- Smoke detectors in every room
- If a pool is on the property, a gate needs to be surrounding it
- The number one thing most families forget about and what causes them to fail their home study is having a fire extinguisher that is accessible and has passed approval.
Finally, time to create your family profile.
Once all of your requirements for adopting a child are met and your home study has been complete, you will finally be asked to create a family profile. This is the first impression you will give birth families. Your agency will match you based on your preferences as well as the birth family’s preferences. It will be up to the birth family if they want to meet you in person or not. Your profile will be basically a quick scrapbook of who you are and what you want prospective birth parents to know about your family. It will include photos, stories, and your hopes for your future child. You can review other family profiles by checking out these hopeful adoptive parents.
International Adoption Requirements for Adopting a Child.
Just one more thing to keep in mind, when doing international adoption, each country does have its own requirements and needs. Some require you to visit the country multiple times before placement. Other’s require a certain age, health, and financial documents to be considered. You’ll need to work with an approved agency to make sure you complete all the steps correctly. International adoption can take anywhere from fifteen months to three years to complete. It can seem overwhelming and almost out of reach, but many families in the United States successfully adopt from a multitude of foreign countries. Adoption is not as overwhelming as it first seems. Connect with other families who have brought home a child. Learn from their mistakes, frustration, and successes. Remember, you are in great company. You can also check out this guide on how to adopt a child.
The steps to adoption might seem overwhelming, but if you take each step at a time, you’ll get through it smoothly.Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.