You are not alone when you become an adoptive parent. Once you have welcomed your child or children into your home, there are resources to help you become a strong, healthy, and united family—from support groups where you can get to know other families who have walked in your shoes, to case management services where a qualified post-adoption expert will come to your home to offer individualized assistance. There are supports designed to help your family at any level. Let’s explore some options.
Adoption Support Groups
When asked what support would be most helpful to them, adoptive parents almost always respond with “Talk to other parents like us who ‘get it.’” Support groups are set up to meet that need. Everyone can benefit from being part of a community of peers where you can talk about similar experiences. Sometimes it can feel lonely going through this process.
Personally, my husband and I had wonderful support from family and friends, but none of them could really understand the feelings and questions we had. When we found our local support group, it was a little hard at first. We were nervous to see if anyone would even have something we could use in our situation, or express similar feelings. We sat there for one hour, and it was like everyone in that room knew what was in our hearts and minds. We have made so many lasting friendships with people from all angles of adoption. They have been a great tool for our family. It’s not something that stopped after our adoption was finalized, either. It’s a continual fountain of love and support. And sometime the roles flip, where you can give support to others. This is so rewarding.
Joining a support group does not necessarily mean you are experiencing a problem of some kind; it just provides you with a friendly adoption community. How do you find one? Chances are an adoption support group meets very near you. A quick Google search can help narrow it down pretty easily, and some or most agencies can direct you to one as well.
Also, online chat rooms and online support for international adoption help!
Most agencies can provide you with parenting classes or educational resources. There are so many things that can come up that will need some education and research to give you and your child the best info to guide you in most situations. I feel that I’m continually researching topics to help me understand and parent my adopted son. We adopted him at birth, and he was addicted to drugs his birth mother had been on. He’s had some developmental delays and some special needs. He’s needed therapies and special education himself. I am constantly learning and researching new parenting techniques and support. I don’t want to tell you it’s all bad or hard, just a learning experience. It helps me become better daily.
There are classes and information to be found on all areas of parenting and adoption—including attachment, development, parenting, language, medical care, toddler and older child adoption, race, culture and ethnicity, nutrition, trauma, abuse and neglect, special-needs adoption, and faith. And for all stages of adoption: home study, waiting, placement, and post-adoption.
You can educate yourself online and through so many books. Education is endless, and the adoption topics can seem endless as well. You can find anything about anything. Don’t slow down or think you can’t do it because you don’t know about it! Don’t limit yourself.
There are many adoption loan options, as well as grants to apply for. The National Adoption Foundation provides a variety of financial support opportunities for adoptive families to help defray the cost of adoption.
There are special subsidies for adoptive families in the military. The National Military Family Association has more information on those.
Some employers provide employee benefits for adoptive parents. Check with your employer to see if there is one available to you.
There are government-sponsored subsidies to help cover the costs of an adopted child’s physical, medical, therapeutic, and educational needs. Many children waiting in foster care or with special needs are eligible for adoption assistance.
For any assistance, an adoptive family must apply in their county through a private agency social worker. They are processed through the state Department of Human Services. All adoption assistance agreements should be signed before adoption is finalized. Obtaining assistance after finalization is very difficult.
Lastly, there’s an adoption tax credit program. This is for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. This is nonrefundable, which means it’s limited to your tax liability that year. The maximum return for 2016 was $13,460 per child adopted. Qualified expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs and attorney fees, and traveling expenses, including meals and lodging.
As you can see, there are so many resources, educational and financial, including groups, out there for all to be able to adopt and grow their family! It may just take some effort on your end to search out the best fit for your situation.
Find support in the adoption community at Adoption.com.
Kristen Chamberlain is a stay-at-home wife and mother of three: one biological, one adopted, and one ectopic miscarriage. She has a career in cakes, cupcakes, and cookies and loves baking, decorating, eating. She has become a stronger parent and mother through her struggles with infertility and through the blessing of adoption, and she hopes to bring another spirit to her family through adoption very soon!