In my time in “adoption land,” I have noticed many things that seem to hold people back from going forward with adopting, but there is one thing in particular that holds people back more than anything else.

The first and biggest complaint I hear is the cost associated with adopting. This cost that people refer to applies to domestic infant adoption from an adoption agency. Fees can range from 20 to 50 thousand dollars in some cases, covering agency fees, attorney costs, birth family expenses, and more. There can be money lost in a match when the expecting family chooses to parent, and with 30 waiting families to one infant being adopted, the wait can be long and costly. If cost is a concern, adopting legally free children from foster care is definitely something to consider.

The second is a lack of education and resources to know how to go about adopting. Because some families may be deterred from using an agency because of cost or other personal reasons, they may have to educate themselves or find resources to go through with an ethical adoption. This method can be time-consuming and daunting and may scare away those who wish to adopt or fail to prepare them to be successful if they do.

The biggest thing of all that holds people back from adopting, though, is fear—fear about whether they can love an adopted child as if they gave birth to him or her; fear that they won’t be enough for their child or honor the culture or story well as the child grows; fear perpetuated by myths and stereotypes about birth parents, about drug addiction, about adoption in general. Fear is natural when taking such a big step in life, of course, but you shouldn’t let it hold you back.

Adoption is a huge thing to undertake and shouldn’t be done lightly. But if the three things I’ve listed are holding you back, educate yourself and find community so you can move forward and add to your family.

Samantha resides in Weirton, WV, with her fiance and myriad of animals. She is a birth mother to a two-year-old boy in a very open adoption, and has come to think of his family as part of her own. She spends her free time talking to others about adoption, writing, and playing board games with friends.