Today I want to start just talking about some facts which are true about adoption in general.
Adoption is when a child becomes part of a family they were not born to, acquiring new parents/a new parent, as well as possibly new siblings. In America an adopted child is considered the same as one brought into the house biologically.
The requirements for adoption vary greatly, but the idea behind them is to help the child find the best home possible.
The truth is, what requirements you have to meet are based primarily on your geography. Each country, and often different regions within that country, have different requirements. Since I am an American in India, I will talk about those countries, but with some guidelines for others.
In America, for adopting from foster care or other domestic adoption you typically have to go through state and agency requirements. For international adoption, you have to meet state and national requirements as well as the requirements of the foreign country, which vary wildly. The national requirements can be found here and are as follows:
1. You must be a US Citizen.
2. If you are unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old.
3. If you are married, you must jointly adopt the child (even if you are separated by not divorced), and your spouse must either be a US citizen or in legal status in the US.
4. You must meet certain requirements that will determine your suitability as a prospective adoptive parent, including criminal background checks, fingerprinting, and a home study.
A common requirement is age. In some areas, you can adopt at 18 if the child is young. In some areas, you have to be 30 or older. Others have maximum ages you can adopt, some places disregard that. Maximum ages are in place to try to prevent the child from the loss of an additional parent before they grow up, minimums to try to guarantee maturity and stability of life.
As an example, in India, if I were adopt domestically I have to show we have two years of a stable relationship if we're married (which we are), if we wish to adopt a baby or toddler our ages added up can't be greater than 90 and our individual ages have to be between 25 and 50, we have to show ourselves to be financially stable and mentally and physically healthy.
As you can see, the requirements can differ greatly (we'll get into this more when we go over international adoption) but there are criteria.
All adoptive parents, no matter the method (except one exception I'll discuss later), at least in the US but I'm pretty sure in most countries around the world, have to complete a home study.
What is a home study?
Well someone certified to do the home study (usually a social worker) comes to your house and both looks at the physical home but primarily at the emotional environment to determine if it is safe for a child. This is an interview, and it's part of the process that really freaks adoptive parents out because they worry they may screw it up! A home study is a process, which results in a document profiling your family. What requirements you have to meet varies greatly, but typically they are looking for signs that you are emotionally and mentally stable and prepared for the responsibility of the child, that you are financially well off enough to provide for the child (not rich, but not in poverty), and that you are physically healthy enough to care for a child (often you have to go through a physical and other medical exams.) They also will check the overall environment: what school do you plan on sending the child to? Who are common visitors in your home? Do you have extended family or another support system close by? How do any children already in your home feel? Is the neighborhood safe?
|from the adoptuskids.org site|
Home studies are the governments and agencies way of making sure that the child is going to a good home. It is not perfect, and we all hear stories in the news of horrid adoptive parents and you wonder how in the world they were able to pass the homestudy... But at the same time, this is protection for your future child. It is to help filter out any families that really shouldn't be adopting, and also offers coaching. For example, tips on making a house a little more child friendly.
A home study really isn't about judging you, even though I'm sure I'll feel that way myself when it comes my turn. It's really about the child, not you. Any adoptive family should want the adoptive child's interests to come first, so view a homestudy in that light.
A lot of people express interest in adoption but bow out saying they can't afford it.
It's true that a lot of adoption methods are very expensive. International and domestic infant adoption in the US are especially pricey. All adoption requires the home study fee, though in the cases of adopting a special needs child, this can sometimes be waived.
Adopting from foster care in the US is considerably cheaper, especially if you are considering an older or special needs child. In some cases adoption is free.
Embryo adoption (which if you have never heard of, you're not alone, don't worry I'll be covering it later!) is another affordable option.
Adoption can range anywhere from basically free (special needs foster care adoption, typically) to $45,000 in the USA. Usually foster care adoption is still less than $10,000, and domestic infant adoption is typically at least $15,000. In India the current Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) does not list any estimate of cost on its site, but when I started researching this (before CARA launched it's new website) it estimated an in country adoption at about the equivalent of $5,000, though obviously that may have changed.
In the USA, there are tax credits for adoption, and many employers offer some sort of assistance to adopting couple. Ryan's job doesn't offer money, but would give him an adoption paternity leave.
Many adoptive couples fundraise, because while they may meet the financial requirements to adopt, that doesn't mean they have $20,000 plus sitting around. I have heard from adoptive parents that money was never really an object to someone determined to adopt, because so many fundraisers have been successful.
Those are the three areas I wish to cover today. Tomorrow I'll talk about a few common myths about adoption, then we'll go on to the profiles on the different types of adoption, as well as the interviews.