Adoption is undoubtedly a beautiful gift. If you want to adopt, you may wonder what stops people from choosing adoption. There are various reasons that stop people from choosing adoption. For example, my parents adopted my sister and me from China. After a few years of trying to have a biological child, they realized that was not an option. On the other hand, I have always talked about adopting a child. As someone who was personally affected by adoption, I feel called to adopt a child, even though I could probably physically have a biological child if chose to. My sister personally does not want to be pregnant or birth a child—she would rather adopt because she believes there are already enough people on the planet. Even within my family, it is easy to see there are many reasons why people choose adoption. Some people do not want to adopt- and that is okay! Just as there are numerous reasons for people wanting to adopt, there are also various reasons for people to not want to adopt. Here are reasons that hinder some people from choosing adoption.
Money is one of the biggest factors that stop people from choosing adoption. And that is very understandable. U.S. News’s article “What Adoption Costs- and Strategies to Pay for It” lays out some of the financial considerations that come with adoption. The price of adoption really depends on the age of the child, the circumstances in which the child is being placed for adoption, and whether the child is in the United States or abroad. For instance, an older child being adopted out of the foster care system typically has less associated costs than a newborn born out of the country. Many of the costs arise from legal fees, adoption agency fees, the home visit, medical expenses, and travel fees.
Some people who have not researched adoption before are shocked by the costs associated with adopting a child. According to the article, the financing needed to adopt a child typically fall in these ranges:
- Adoption from foster care: $0- $5,000.
- Independent adoptions (when the birth parent chooses the adoptive parent and places the child directly with them): $15,000- $40,000.
- Domestic adoptions (adopting a child within the United States) using the services of an adoption agency: $20,000 and $45,000.
- International adoptions (adoptions a child in another country): $20,000- $50,000.
To be fair, some women pay similar amounts for pregnancy-related expenses and hospital delivery. But, these costs can be daunting to a family who was unaware that adoption-related expenses amounted to this much or do not have this kind of money to spend. However, there are ways to afford adoption-related costs with careful planning as well as possible employer benefits, loans, savings, tax credits, or grants.
I am one of those people who like to have their life planned out for the next ten years. Even though I know my life will certainly not turn out this way, I like having goals to strive for and these goals make me work harder. I have always thought I wanted to have a child at 28 years old. 28 is young but also old enough that I (theoretically) would have a stable income. I also know I want to adopt from China because that is where I am adopted from. However, there are so many requirements for internationally adopting from China—one of which is you have to be a minimum of 30 years old to adopt. Obviously, I cannot adopt a child from China and be 28 years old because I will not be allowed to. Luckily, I am willing to wait a little longer to adopt a child from China. But, some people are not as willing to change their life plans to comply with guidelines set by adoption agencies or foreign countries.
Adoption is comprised of a series of hurdles that do not accompany having a biological child. Age requirements, health requirements, certain relationship requirements (some countries and adoption agencies do not allow single people or same-sex couples to adopt from their countries or through their agencies). Also, there is a whole extensive legal process involved with adopting a child, especially if they are from another country. If people have their life planned out a certain way, they may not want to have to rearrange all their plans in order to adopt. However, most people who feel called to adopt do not mind waiting the extra time and jumping the extra hurdles. Additionally, many parents who may not have adoption in their plans may reconsider if they are unable to have biological children. Plans tend to change.
The Home Study
Do you remember applying to college (or at least watching television characters apply)? You had to fill out papers with your personal information, write statements about why you wanted to get an education, ask professional references to write on your behalf, fill out the financial information, and pay fees to every college you applied to. Now, imagine double the paperwork and money as well as a stranger coming into your home to evaluate your life. This is basically the home study— but many people imagine it to be a scarier process than it actually is.
All adoptive parents must go through the home study process before they are approved to adopt a child. Home studies are conducted by social workers so the adoption agency (or the government) involved with your adoption can get a better idea of your physical, mental, financial, and environmental well-being as well as confirm that the prospective parents are fit to parent. Home studies generally involve background and medical checks, interviews of you and all the members living in your house, reviewing and filling out paperwork, character references from people who know you, a social worker physically visiting your home and inspecting it, and sometimes even more. On average, the whole home study process takes between three to six months (for your first child and usually shorter for any subsequent children). If you would like more information on the home study, try reading “10 Things to Help You Prepare for the Home Study.”
Some people are terrified at the prospect of having to fill out mountains of paperwork and invite a complete stranger into their home. Furthermore, some people see this process as invasive and encroaching on their privacy. This is completely normal— it is daunting to think someone is going to assess your lifestyle and house. However, it is important to remember that the social workers are not looking for perfect people living in mansions— they just want to make sure you will be able to physically, mentally, and financially provide for a child. The people conducting home studies and helping you through the adoption process want you to succeed.
Wanting Biological Children
I personally cannot imagine anything more terrifying than being pregnant. However, I have a friend who really wants to be pregnant. She cannot wait for the baby bump photos, the loose maternity clothes, the ultrasound pictures, the doctor telling her the gender, and the eventual birth. She cannot wait to hold her newborn baby for the first time. She cannot wait to see which of her and her husband’s traits her baby will inherit.
Even though I do not personally want it, I can understand the appeal of being pregnant and having a biological child. For instance, some people really want to raise a child from the minute they are born. While you can adopt a newborn baby, it is not a guarantee. Also, I am sure there are joys associated with pregnancy, such as feeling the baby move and watching yourself grow as your baby develops. Ultimately, you should do what is best for your family. If you are adopting solely because you think society wants you to or one of your loved ones has been pressuring you into it, you should not adopt. It is not selfish to want biological children and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. If you have a dream, make it happen!
Post-Adoption Concerns May be an Issue
My parents adopted my sister from China when she was nine months old. They were told she was left in a box on a turnpike near the Vietnam border. After someone found her and brought her to an orphanage, she was legally placed for adoption. However, she was also placed in the Chinese foster care system. Her foster father would bring her to the orphanage during the day while he worked there and brought her home to his family at night. Because of this, my sister was very comfortable with men but not as exposed to women. When my parents adopted her, my sister bonded immediately with my dad, only allowing him to feed her and pick her up. She screamed anytime my mom came near her without my dad around.
Additionally, my sister was really sad when she came home first. My parents do not have many pictures of her as a baby because they say she never smiled. She would cry a lot and she always looked nervous. She also did not talk much or even make that much noise. The only way you would know she was crying was by seeing tears running down her face. If you met her today, you would not believe that she was this way as a kid. She has a good relationship with both my parents (even though she was terrified of my mom at the beginning) and she is a very happy, funny person who smiles quite often.
It is weird to think about, but birth trauma is real and some adopted infants do deal with post-adoption depression and attachment issues. Some people are nervous that if they adopt, their child will not love them as much as their biological child would or their child will abandon them to find their birth parents. While this probably happens, I can assure you the number of times adopted children reject their adoptive parents is very, very slim. And even then, they usually have relationship issues with the parent because of personality clashes rather than the mere fact that they are not biologically related. I can understand the concern but from my experiences, my adopted friends have good relationships with their parents and do not see them as different from biological parents.
Other People’s Input May Stop People From Choosing Adoption
I have a friend who is really considering adoption. We talk about it a lot. She is hoping to adopt from Asia somewhere— China or maybe Korea. However, one of her parents has made numerous comments about how my friend’s children should look like her and she should keep their bloodline going. This family member explained specifically that they wanted their grandchildren’s hair to be like my friend’s. It seems like a random request but the family member surely has their reasons.
Some people have loved ones, most notably parents or spouses, who do not want them to adopt. Usually, they have heard negative stories about an adopted child or they want the child to look a certain way. There are a number of reasons why people sometimes pressure their loved ones to reconsider having biological children.
My elderly neighbor, who I have known since I was a baby, always told me growing up: “You can consider people’s opinions, but at the end of the day, you are the person living with the decisions you make.” I stand by this, especially when it comes to having a family. If you in your heart want to adopt, do not let family members or friends stop you. You have to live with your decisions and you could be missing out on the greatest decision of your life because your parents want a grandchild that looks like them.
In conclusion, there are many reasons that stop people from choosing adoption. These barriers can be frustrating and time-consuming and from the parents who chose adoption that I have talked to, I know the adoption process is not easy. However, they have all agreed it is worth the time, money, paperwork, etc. the moment your child is placed in your arms.
Katie Kaessinger is an international adoptee from China now residing in Southern California. After graduating from the University of California, Irvine in June 2020 with her BA in English, Katie started law school at the California Western School of Law. Katie hopes to be a family lawyer and specialize in child advocacy and dependency to work with children in the foster care system and adoptees as well as foster and adoptive parents. In her spare time, Katie enjoys listening to and writing music, singing, drawing, playing with her pets, and spending time with her friends (with a mask on and from six feet away!).