There are probably hundreds of questions that any one person could ask about the adoption process. Depending on what side of the adoption process you are on, your questions may vary. For an expectant mother, she may have questions about what the adoption process looks like, what her child’s life might look like in the future, and what it means for her pregnancy. For prospective adoptive parents, their questions may mainly be about the process of adoption and how long the process takes until they are matched with a child. For family members of those placing a child for adoption, they may want to know what rights if any that they have and what will become of their relative who is being placed. For family members of those choosing to adopt a child, they may have a lot of questions for their family members who are adopting a child. Many of these questions may center around the questions of why, when, and how.
Regardless of where you fall in the adoption process, you will no doubt have a lot of questions. There are a few common questions that can provide the answers for anyone or any member of the adoption triad. Even those who are just curious and want to know how the process works. Others may simply want to know what will happen moving forward and what adoption even looks like. Here are a few of the most common questions and some brief answers to help you through the adoption process.
1. How Long Does Adoption Take?
This is such a hard question to answer. It is incredibly difficult to know how long adoption will take just because there are so many unknowns. This can be especially true if you have not yet matched with a child. The amount of time you wait for a match will vary based on where you live, the adoption professionals you use, and the amount of children available for adoption. You could also experience the heartbreak and delay of experiencing a failed adoption. For those who are seeking private adoption, you will also choose what situations you are willing to pursue. If you are more open to drug exposure, alcohol exposure, various races, and have no gender preference, the adoption process may go faster for you. However, even then, it is really just a game of chance. Some people may choose only to be open to “stork drop” adoptions which occur when a mother chooses to place her child at birth. In these situations, there is really no saying what the timeline will be.
For those who have chosen to adopt from foster care, the process can be historically a bit faster. In these situations, you are likely pursuing adoption of kids who are already legally eligible to be adopted. This means that their birth parents’ rights have already been terminated, and they are just waiting for adoptive parents. With this, you will still have to go through the home study process and be approved by an adoption agency in your state. Once this has happened, you will match with a child. This may not be automatic if you are seeking a certain age or gender as well. If you are open to adopting an older child, you may match fairly immediately. Once you have matched, you will begin the process of getting to know the child and transitioning the child into your home. The adoption will be finalized later down the line if all goes well. All in all, the entire process can take about six months to a year.
2. Who Is Eligible to Adopt?
Eligibility to adopt will have to do a lot with characteristics such as age, health, marital status, location, finances, and criminal background. You must be over the age of 18 to adopt a child, though many states require that you be over the age of 21. There are many adoption professionals and adoption agencies that require their prospective adoptive parents to be at least 25 years of age or older. There are also some adoption agencies that will limit the age that they will accept adoptive parents.
While you do not need to be in perfect health to adopt a child, it is important to adoption professionals that you are healthy enough that you will be able to take care of a child long-term. This may require you to be a few years outside of any serious illness such as cancer. Almost all prospective adoptive parents will be required to undergo a physical that will have a form signed by their doctor, stating that they have no condition that would hinder them from taking care of a child. This does not mean that you cannot have any medical condition, it just means that those conditions need to be controlled and not hinder your ability to make good decisions as a parent. It also cannot hinder your ability to physically care for a child to the extent that it would be detrimental.
The eligibility based on marital status to adopt a child will vary from adoption agency to adoption agency. It will also vary based on which country you are adopting from or if you are adopting domestically. Adoption agencies that are not publicly funded have the option if they so choose of declining applicants based on their marital status and\or sexual orientation. There are also countries that will not accept single or homosexual applicants. However, there are a host of adoption agencies domestically and many countries internationally who do allow for single parent or same-sex couples to adopt. It will all be a matter of finding the right adoption agency or type of adoption for you.
All prospective adoptive parents will be required to undergo a background check. this background check will determine whether or not they are eligible to adopt based on their criminal history. Generally speaking, no one with any violent crime will be eligible to adopt. Those with felonies will also be typically ineligible to adopt. Anyone who has committed a crime against a child or a protected group such as those who are disabled will be ineligible to adopt. It is important to speak with your adoption agency or professional and be upfront so that you do not waste money or go through the process without disclosing information.You may find that your situation has exceptions if you have a concern from your past.
3. What Is Open Adoption?
Open adoption has grown incredibly popular over the past 10 years; however, even with popularity, open adoption tends to confuse people who are outside of the adoption world. The idea of open adoption has been foreign to a lot of people up until recent times. Even in the media, adoption is still portrayed as some sort of secret and something that happens behind closed doors that we don’t talk about. However, open adoption has been shown to be a healthier option in many cases and allows for birth parents to remain a part of their child’s life as he or she grows.
By definition, open adoption is essentially the opportunity or situation where a child is allowed access to her birth parents and birth parents are allowed access to their child after an adoption has been finalized. This access can vary based on the type of open adoption both sides have agreed upon. Open adoption plans are not often legally enforceable, nevertheless, the agreement is based on honor and expected to be honored and unless safety becomes an issue. For some, open adoption will simply mean that the birth parents are sent updates via regular mail, email, or other avenues. These updates may be weekly, monthly, bi-annually or even annually. They may include stories and pictures or maybe even phone calls. It is really up to the adoptive and birth parents what they agree upon.
For others, open adoption may even include visits with the child and birth parents. This is becoming more common in the area of kinship adoption which is when a family member adopts a child. My children speak to their birth mother once a week via video chat. This is our version of open adoption as it is what works for each of us living in a different state. Open adoption may also allow access for grandparents or biological siblings. There are so many facets to work out in open adoption and so many options available to those who choose to pursue it.
4. Why Choose Adoption?
Each prospective adoptive parent or birth parent will have their own reason for choosing adoption as a way to either grow their family or as a choice for their child. For a birth parent, they may choose an adoption plan for their child as they are not ready to be a parent. This may be due to finances or due to where they are in life. There are many who place children for adoption who are pursuing college degrees for are just simply not at a place where they are ready to take on the challenges of parenthood. Others may choose adoption because they cannot financially support a child or are not in a place where their life can accommodate the addition of a child. I have heard many stories from birth parents who have already had multiple biological children and do not feel that they can add a child to their family without detriment to the other children.
Some birth parents may choose adoption after a sexual assault. Adoption allows a birth mother the option of placing their child who was conceived from a sexual assault if they feel that is what is best for them. Others may choose to place their child for adoption due to addiction issues or out of fear of danger within their lives. For those who are living in domestic violence situations, it may be safer for the child to be placed for adoption than to live in the home. Others may not have chosen adoption for their child but rather feel obligated to place by child protective services or by pressure from family members.
For prospective adoptive parents, there may be many reasons that they choose to adopt a child. For some, due to infertility, it may be their only way to have a child. For others, there may be health reasons that do not allow them to get pregnant or have it be safe to experience pregnancy. For these cases, adoption may be the only option. For others, they may choose adoption because they feel that it is the way that they want to build their family. There are some who feel that there are enough children in the world who need homes, and they want to pursue adoption as a way to help those children. For people like my husband and I, we did not necessarily pursue adoption. However, we knew if adoption ever became an option that we would be open to it. For us, we were asked to adopt and chose to pursue the process because we were happy to add more children to our family in any way. We were happy to provide a loving home to any child. Regardless of the reasoning, commonly, prospective adoptive parents choose adoption as a way to grow their family.
While this does not likely answer all of your questions, these are many of the common questions that any prospective adoptive parent or birth parents will encounter. Adoption in and of itself is a weird topic in the sense that there are many questions that have many answers. There are not many questions that have straightforward answers. Many of the answers to questions will depend on the situation. This is why it is incredibly valuable that sites such as Adoption.com and Adoption.org exist to provide a wealth of information to those seeking answers. There are also multiple adoption groups online and sites like Facebook that exist for the sole purpose of providing answers to questions based on the situation. Many of these groups see daily questions asked about specific states or types of adoption that only those who have been there before possibly answer. Adoption can mean so many things to so many different people and no two people have the same experience. There will always be questions, and hopefully, there will always be answers that continue to be answered through articles and other venues found at these sites and groups. Having reputable and researched information at hand will aid you tremendously in the adoption process.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on Facebook.