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Adoption is a legal process in which a child is permanently placed with new parents. The adoption process is completed in court when the adoptive parents are given all of the rights and responsibilities of legal parents, and the child becomes a family member. The rights of the adoptive parents are assumed only after the court has determined the rights of the biological parents have been voluntarily relinquished, or were terminated by the court.
At the finalization hearing, the judge will review the adopting parents information, as well as ask questions of the adopting parents, and the child (if he/ she is old enough). It the judge approves, the adoption is finalized and an Adoption Decree is issued. In most cases, the court orders that a new birth certificate be issued with the child's new name and the names of the adopting parents.
Potential adoptive parents must understand, and accept, that there are risks associated with any adoption. They should carefully consider the financial, legal, medical, and emotional risks involved with adoption. Parents should also determine what situations they are comfortable with and are willing to accept, keeping in mind that they have the control to decide if a particular adoption scenario is really right for them.
Many agencies have similar requirements for potential adoptive couples. Adoptive parents must be between 18 and 40 years of age. Parents older than 40, may be asked to adopt a slightly older child. In most cases, couples that have been married for at least three years will have an easier time completing an adoption than single parents. However, if you do not fit within these age guidelines, shop around, or consider other types of adoptions. It may still be possible for you to adopt.
A physician must prove that a parent is healthy enough to adequately care for a child. Financial stability and steady employment are also deciding factors for potential adoptive parents. Some agencies may give preferences to infertile couples or couples with a specific religious affiliation.
Regardless of agency criteria, every parent must successfully complete a home study to be approved to adopt. The home study maintains state adoption laws as well as requiring medical records, a criminal background check, background information on each adopting parents, and a safety assessment of the home.
Adoptive parents come from all walks of life: married or single, disabled, religious and non-religious, wealthy or of modest means. People with disabilities can adopt if they are healthy enough to adequately care for a child. People who have divorced, or may have a record of personal counseling may be able to adopt as well. Adopting parents do not need to have a high income or even own their own home as long as they prove they can provide for, and permanently care for, a child. Many more children are being placed in single parent homes as well. Single adoptive parents are considered if they show they are stable, responsible and have a supportive group of family and friends. Some agencies still maintain strict criteria for married couples, the length of the marriage, the age of the potential parents, the number of other children in the home, and even evidence of infertility. Shop around for an agency that will accommodate your particular situation.
Adoption is permanent and it is not always the best choice for everyone. Adoption requires a lifelong commitment by all parties involved. Adopting can require some financial implications, time requirements and lifestyle changes. As any parent should, be sure you are ready to love and nurture a child before you commit.
Every type of child imaginable can be adopted: every race and ethnicity, children as young as a newborn and as old as a teenager. Children can be adopted from many countries around the world. A large number of prospective parents want to adopt healthy Caucasian infants; however, in the United States, there are only a small number of these children placed through adoptions. If you want to adopt an infant, consider a child with special needs- often these needs are minor problems (such as a club foot) which can be easily corrected.
A wealth of information can be found on the Internet. On the World Wide Web you can find: support groups, information on syndromes, children available for adoption, chat rooms for support, forums designed to support and educate people, services available and more. The Internet makes it easier than ever before to stay in touch and network with others.
Adoption costs can vary in the type of adoption services (i.e. agency or attorney) and the type of adoption program (i.e. domestic, international, foster care or relative). Adopting from the foster care system, step-parent adoptions, and relative adoptions tend to be the least expensive. Domestic adoption costs can vary depending on the types of services offered, state fees, possible travel expenses, and possible birth mother expenses. The search process for locating birth parents can be expensive. Potential adoptive parents can choose whether to pay for the location service or try to locate birth parents on their own. International adoption expenses also vary depending on services, dossier fees, travel expenses and individual country fees.
If this is your first experience with adoption, it is important to learn as much as you can about it. This includes the search process, legal process and the permanent family commitment. Approximately 120,000 children are adopted each year in the United States. Children from infancy to 18 are in need of adoptive parents. These children may have many reasons for not being raised by their biological parents, but they all are in need of loving forever families. Potential adoptive parents can have many reasons for wanting to adopt which may or may not involve infertility. Although the largest group of adopters is step-parents, about half of the adoptions completed each year are by non-relatives.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|