Originally published by Bob Kraft.
Adoption is not a decision one makes lightly, and people come to this decision many ways. Some people choose adoption due to their struggles with infertility while some simply believe their family will be complete with an adopted member. However, you came to your decision, be aware that the adoption process is not easy.
Research, Research, Research!
The first question to ask yourself is: Am I ready to adopt? Adoption is a beautiful and joyous idea, but the process can be grueling and stressful more often than not. Check out this adoption quiz by Parents.com; your results shouldn’t dictate your decision, but some of the questions might enlighten you.
While researching whether or not adoption is truly the best fit for you, try getting different perspectives from families who have already gone through the process. Check for adoption support groups in your area or find a support group online.
Joining a support group will give you a truthful view of the highs and lows of the adoption process. You’ll be able to ask questions and hopefully get raw, real answers about the experience of adoption from people who’ve already gone through it.
Selecting an Adoption Agency
Once you are steadfast in your decision to adopt, the next step to take is selecting an adoption agency. There are around 3,000 adoption agencies in the US. Selecting an agency that works best for you and your family could be swayed by like geographic location of the agency or how much experience it has assisting in adoptions from the country you wish to adopt from.
The nonprofit Creating a Family offers a 3-step approach to selecting your agency. They basically say to first narrow down your criteria of what you’re looking for in an agency, then interview with the agency, and finally, make the decision of which agency best represents your values.
While there is no “All Time Best” agency, there are factors to be aware of to separate the good organizations from the bad. Consider the following for international adoption agencies:
- Are pre-adoption education services stressed or required before placement?
- Are post-adoption services available to my family to aid in the transition of adding a new family member?
- Are there other humanitarian efforts in the country I’m adopting from to aid in community growth for the children who are not able to be adopted?
- Are all children in the agency being represented equally?
- Does the agency require the Hague Process (explained below)?
Creating a Family states “A good adoption agency looks more like a child-welfare agency. It’s worth the time to find that type of agency.”
Begin the Process
Aside from mountains of legal paperwork and the submission of your dossier, a major aspect of international adoption is the Hague Process. Stemming from the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the Hague Process protects the best interest of the adoptive children, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents.
Most international adoptions require an agency to conduct a Hague accredited home study of the potential adoptive family to ensure suitability of placement. This process can be grueling and intrusive. All aspects of family life are considered, from financial stability to family health history. The guidelines for this study can be found here.
The Waiting Game
Finally, after all the hard work of selecting an agency, paying thousands of dollars, and undergoing a very intense home study, some families think that the hardest part of the whole adoption process is the wait between the home study and finally receiving placement. This placement can sometimes take years. This waiting period would be another good time to get involved in an adoption support group.
Adoption can be a stressful decision, but can ultimately be one of the most rewarding experiences of your lifetime. With a good agency to support you, adoption is possible, and could be the best option to complete your family.
aire Stewart is a freelance writer and blogger focused on writing about health, travel, and business among other topics. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelors in Women’s Studies and currently lives in Seattle with her goldfish, Merlin.
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