Adoption gives the legal responsibility to an individual or couple to care for and raise a child who is not born into their family. You may consider adoption when:
You may not be able to adopt a newborn. There are many children from other countries, older children, and special needs children with mental, physical, or medical problems who are available for adoption. You need to decide if you are willing and able to raise an older child, or a child who is disabled, from another country, or of a different or mixed race.
You may adopt children through a private or public agency, or through an attorney. Public adoption services are usually free. Private services charge fees that can be very expensive. Choose a licensed agency with a good reputation. Ask about their fees and ask for references. The agency will do an evaluation that includes interviews and medical exams. They need to find out if you have a stable family life, regular income, and good health. You will need to give information about finances, health, marriage, and employment.
A closed adoption allows the birth mother and adoptive parents to remain unknown to each other. In an open adoption, the birth mother is allowed to know and approve of the adopting parents. She may even wish to share in the raising of the child. Open adoption is becoming more popular. Adoption laws may vary from state to state. You need to know which types of placements are allowed by your state's laws.
Children may be upset by the move to their new home and family. At first, children will probably be excited, overwhelmed, sad, and happy all at the same time. They may behave badly or be overly quiet. They may throw tantrums or behave like they are several years younger than their actual age.
Children may grieve for the life they left. Feelings of loss may involve birth parents, friends, foods, language, or culture. Nothing feels familiar to them. Adopted children may feel unsure about how long you will really want to keep them, especially if they have spent time in foster care.
If you are thinking about adoption, there are many community, church, and healthcare resources that can direct you to the proper adoption placement agency. For more information, contact the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse at 888-251-0075 or visit their Web site at http://www.childwelfare.gov.