When picking which type of adoption to pursue research is key. Without knowing the pros and cons of each, you can’t make an informed decision. Check out different agency websites, make calls, even join Facebook groups to hear what people who have gone through it say. Adoption.com has a great Youtube channel with helpful videos featuring adoption professionals, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Something you may notice while researching, though, is some stories conflict with each other. This is because every adoption is different. One domestic infant adoption can look different from another domestic infant adoption.
It might comfort you to know that there are no wrong answers here. Whatever you choose, be all in. Be passionate. Be hopeful. First though, be realistic. Probably the biggest blunder you can make is not understanding the costs of your adoption. If you have budgeted only 15K for adoption, international adoption might not be realistic.
International adoption is typically on the more expensive side (30K-40K). You will be paying your fees to the social workers/agency plus your travel costs: airfare, hotel, rental car, etc. You would typically be adopting through an orphanage, so rarely would you be present at the child’s birth or even get notification of a match until the child is past infancy. Your child will likely not be an infant. In this type of adoption, you aren’t forming a relationship with the birth family like you may in a domestic infant open adoption.
Another aspect of international adoption is the language barrier. There can be confusion over the country’s laws or feeling like you can’t communicate well while traveling within that country. People who are successful will have planned ahead, double checked everything, downloaded some language apps, or even learned a few phrases themselves. You may also need to hire a translator.
When you’re adopting from somewhere like Haiti, where there was a natural disaster and some children lost both parents, it can feel incredibly rewarding to adopt and bring that child to a new home and family. Many say they feel “drawn” or “called” to a certain country to expand their family. However, a natural disaster may not be the best reason to adopt, so consider your decision to adopt carefully.
Domestic adoption can be divided into three types.
Adoption through an agency
Here you will have a social worker guiding you through the process. Birth parents come to the agency and choose a family for their baby by looking at profile books/videos. Once matched, birth parents and adoptive parents will meet in-person at the agency (if local). These will usually be infant adoptions.
By choosing an agency, you have the benefit of having a third party to relay information back and forth. When discussing the hospital plan, for example, the birth parents can tell the social worker their preferences and you do the same. The social worker can then find common ground between the two and reach a compromise that everyone will be comfortable with.
You can also discuss how open your adoption will be. Some families see the birth family once a month, some see them once a year, and some are strictly based on pictures and letters. The flexibility is one thing people enjoy about this type of adoption. The cost can vary greatly too. A small, local agency may charge 20K, whereas a national agency may charge 40K.
The lawyer, rather than agency, serves to coordinate an adoption. This is less common (and in some states, illegal), but an example would be if a birth mother was very young, she and her family could decide to have the birth mother’s aunt or other relative adopt the baby. Another example would be if an adoptive couple had their profile online and a birth parent found it, contacted them, and they all decided to then seek out lawyers to make an adoption plan.
One thing to consider here is that the lawyer, while being sensitive to the birth parents, still is not a professional counselor. Birth parents will need to seek their own counseling, or they may be unprepared for all the emotions that go along with an adoption before and after the birth of the child. The attractive aspect of this type of adoption is not having to pay an agency’s fees.
Foster care (fostering or foster to adopt)
Some couples opt to adopt from foster care, rather than using an adoption agency. It is more common to adopt older children than infants from foster care. A major difference from an adoption agency is sometimes in foster care, the birth mother has involuntarily placed the baby. In an agency adoption, she always voluntarily places the baby for adoption. In foster care, things like drugs or abuse may have caused the state to come into the home and take the child away from the bad situation. When that child is in foster care, the adoptive parents need to be aware and ready to deal with the repercussions of what that child has endured in their past which forced the child into the state’s care in the first place.
That being said, these children deserve loving homes and can be quite resilient. The focus of fostering a child is reunification with the child’s birth family. There may be visits and counseling where the state tries to reunite them while the child lives with you. They may go back to their birth family. If not, they remain in foster care or can be forever adopted by your family. This type of adoption is by far the most affordable (could be 2K or less).
Written by Kristin Anderson