There, unfortunately, is no one-size-fits-all guide to preparing to adopt a child. Much of your preparation will depend on where your family stands with adoption, where you are starting in the adoption process, and what type of adoption you are pursuing. There will be ways that you need to prepare emotionally and mentally. There will be a lot of ways that you need to prepare physically. There will be countless documents that you will need to sign and provide to your adoption professional in order to move forward. It is much easier to talk in general about preparing for adoption and what you might need to get the process started. Here is a general guide to preparing yourself for adoption once you have decided to begin the process.
It is a fairly commonly believed adoption myth that one must be rich in order to adopt a child. The myth lies not in the fact that it is expensive to adopt. It typically is expensive to adopt unless it is a case of foster care adoption. Even so, there is a lot to be said about financial stability. Being financially stable does not necessarily mean that one is rich. My husband and I have adopted twice and neither time were we rich. We still are not rich. However, financial stability is important when bringing a child into your home through any avenue. Whether you are having a child biologically or adopting, there is a lot to be said for being financially stable.
Financial stability does not look like having money for Caribbean vacations. Financial stability speaks more about being able to pay your bills each month. Financial stability means being able to bring a child in your home and not have it affect your family’s finances negatively. Financial stability will allow you to be able to provide the things your new child needs. In preparing for adoption, it is important to make sure that you have some sort of financial stability. If you are struggling month-to-month, it may be time to look at your finances. This does not necessarily mean that you shouldn’t adopt but that you should take a look at your budget and see what can go or ways where things can move around.
When you really examine your finances, you may find that you have more money than you think you do. We spend money on trivial things such as dining out, gym memberships no one’s using, multiple streaming services, and many things that aren’t completely necessary. It is amazing how much you can save each month just doing away with a lot of extras. Take a hard look at your budget and see what you can cut in order to make sure that adding a child will not add stress to your family. You also want to be able to make sure to be able to cope with any future needs for your child and prepare them for a prosperous future. You do not have to be rich to adopt, you just have to be decent with money.
Are you on the same page about adoption as the rest of the people in your family? This may apply to you or may not. There are countless stories of families who are ready to adopt but seemingly find that other members of their family had other ideas. This could even pertain to you and your significant other. Make sure that you and your family are all on the same page with adoption. You will need to get an adoption home study done and part of that will be a caseworker interviewing anyone who lives within your home. It will be important that the adoption is something that everyone in the home wants or at least supports. Take some time to speak with your family about what adoption would mean and reassure any fears. If your significant other is not on the same page, it may be time to do more research or have further discussions. If your children are unsure about adoption, this will be a great time to help them understand and to hear their fears or grievances.
You don’t necessarily have to have the support of everyone in your family to adopt. While everyone in my family loves our children, there were many who were worried that we were getting ourselves into too much by adopting. Adoption is a hard process, and you will need all of the support you can get. However, there will be people who don’t support you in your adoption. In the end, that is totally okay. The main idea is that you want support from those who the adoption will immediately affect and everyone to be on the same page as those within your home. If you have the support of family and friends emotionally, financially, and in all other ways throughout your adoption process, that is definitely a bonus.
One of the most important things you will need to prepare for your adoption will be an adoption professional. Depending on your state, you may need an adoption attorney, an adoption agency, or possibly both. An adoption agency will typically be able to lead you through the entire process from the beginning to the end. Adoption agencies typically have their own attorneys that will deal with the ins-and-outs of your legal process of adoption. An adoption agency is incredibly beneficial because it is essentially a one-stop-shop for adoption services. An adoption agency can let you know from the beginning what you would need to prepare to adopt and how to get the process started.
Your state may only require an adoption attorney if you have already matched. It also may be smart to hire an adoption attorney in the case of foster care adoption if you feel more comfortable. An adoption attorney will know the adoption law well and be able to represent your best interest. You can take a look here at the requirements for your state when it comes to hiring an adoption professional. It is also good to take a look at the reviews about adoption professionals in your area. You can check online groups as well as reviews on search engines. You can also call around to various adoption professionals and request more information be sent to you. There are also often red flags to look at when it comes to adoption professionals. Read more about that here and know what to look for when it comes to hiring and ethical adoption professional.
For many adoption journeys, there will be a legal requirement of adoption education. Even if you are not legally required to obtain education for your adoption in the form of classes or books, it is important to prepare to adopt by becoming more educated on adoption in the aspects involved in adoption. If you are seeking transracial adoption, or if that is an option for you, it is really important to seek out education on raising a child of another race. You can do this through various groups, reading books, or getting suggestions from your adoption agency. Some adoption professionals will provide you with specific education and books to read. It is great to read specific books about adoption in general and raising a child who has gone through adoption. Here is a list of some really great books to begin your journey.
Another way to educate yourself on adoption is to speak with those who have adopted before or who have been adopted. If you know of any groups in your area, it would be great to join. I was able to find a group of moms who are all foster parents who helped me learn a lot about the foster care system and adoption in general. Many are willing to answer questions and teach you more about adoption. It is great to further educate yourself by writing down any questions you might have about adoption and posing them to your adoption professional. Adoption.com and Adoption.org both have a wealth of information and articles about adoption that can provide a stellar education that will help you to prepare to adopt.
Having confidence in your adoption can look like a lot of different things. You want to be confident in the adoption process because it can often be very long and arduous. It can be expensive and create quite a bit of turmoil. However, you mainly want to be confident in what you are looking for through adoption. Are you willing to wait for a significant amount of time? Do you know what ages you will accept? Do you know the limits you want to place on the type of child you will accept? There will be a lot of details that you will need to decide and be confident on as you prepare for your adoption.
Your adoption could take two years or it could take two days. You just never know. For this reason, it is important to be confident in other areas that are more general, such as your parenting style. How will you raise the child? Will you have an open adoption? How will you broach the subject of adoption with your child as they grow? What sort of discipline will you use? There will be general parenting questions but also larger questions that need to be answered when raising a child who has come from adoption. There will be a lot you need to decide beforehand. Prepare for adoption by becoming confident in the answers to the questions that will be asked and what you need to decide as time goes on. Get on the same page with your significant other and have an idea of what life will look like for your new child.
If adoption teaches you anything excessively it will indeed teach you patience. Adoption is nothing if not unpredictable. Unfortunately, people may experience negatives such as failed matches or scams. They may have issues with their agency or issues with finances. There are a lot of different negative things that can happen along with a lot of positives. It will take a lot of patience to navigate the ins-and-outs of adoption. It will take a lot of patience to wait for word back from your adoption professional when all you want to do is know the answer to your question. It will take a lot of patience to gain all of the education you need and to understand the trauma associated with adoption. At the end, it will all be worth it. However, it does not often make the waiting any easier.
There are many more things that it takes to prepare for adoption that are much more technical. You will need a home study and there will be a lot of legalities to navigate. You can find more about that here. The bulk of preparing for adoption will be preparing yourself and your family for the journey that adoption brings. Adoption can take an emotional and even physical toll on a family. This is not said to scare away anyone or to say that adoption is all difficult. Adoption can be incredibly rewarding and the best thing you ever do. However, it can also be the hardest thing you ever do. This is why preparation is so vitally important. The better prepared you can enter the adoption process, the better off you will be. The more preparation you can provide yourself and your family will be worth it and provide you with a smoother starting point. Take ample time to educate yourself and your family on all that adoption entails. Spend a large amount of time on sites such as Adoption.com just reading through experiences and also asking as many questions as you can. There is no such thing as too prepared when it comes to adoption and you will be better for it in the end. All of the preparation will make sense and be hugely vital when you finally bring your child home.
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 www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.