Adoption is a major decision in the lives of parents. It is an intricate process involving emotional and legal aspects. Integrating a child into your family could be a huge step, especially because they are not biologically related. However, in recent years, adoption agencies have become more helpful with the process. This helps the adoptive parents to ease into a new lifestyle with their adopted child and vice versa. Also, there is guidance available that can ease you with the process.
In 2022, 279,920 children were adopted in the US, and 1,517 adoptions were intercountry ones (1). When adopting a child from another country, you have to keep their ethnicity and traditions in mind. Intercountry adoptions have been on the rise since the 1960s. There are several international institutions and organizations that allow adoptions to be carried out in transparently without exploiting the child. The legal procedures for such adoptions are laid down to benefit children and the adoptive families (2).
Adoption is not a new concept. It can be traced back to ancient Rome. In the 6th century AD, if a man had no male heirs, he was allowed to adopt a boy from another family. The Roman nobility followed adoption to make sure wealth and title remained in the family. It continued well into the Byzantine Empire (until the 15th century). However, in the Middle Ages, adoption was forbidden by the English and Italian Laws as the nobility wanted to preserve their money and power through blood relations only. During this time, the practice of adoption by the Church or a religious organization began. Later, the Church started the first official orphanages (3).
In the mid-19th century, adoption began to be recognized as a means to provide a safe home to a child. The Massachusetts Adoption of Children Act in 1851 was the first Act, which benefited the adopted children. It ensured that the adoptive parents could raise the child properly (4). In later years, several Acts were passed to make adoption a smoother process for both the parents and the children. In 2000, for instance, the US government granted citizenship to all children adopted from other countries. In 2013, UNICEF started the “Every child needs a family” campaign, wherein they educate parents about the benefits of adoption (5). Moreover, parents wishing to adopt were educated on adopting children with special needs too.
The journey to adoption is one of the most remarkable ones. It has all aspects of resilience, patience, and determination. In some cases, it takes over two years to get an adoption done. The parents are vetted for suitability with the child. Even after the adoption is through, childcare services are in touch to check if the child is well (6). Intercountry adoption is a longer process. The adoption and immigration of a child depend on whether the child’s origin country is among countries in the Hague Adoption Convention (7).
Adoption is not only associated with infants and toddlers. It could also concern older children and teenagers. Typically, these children are placed in foster care, from where they move to adoptive homes. There needs to be a deep understanding of the temperament and background of the child being adopted to judge the suitability of the adoptive parents to prevent adoption challenges. Every family has a unique story of adoption. Some may want to give a child a stable home, some may be battling with infertility, or some may not want to get pregnant. Whatever the reason, each adoptive family creates new bonds and accepts the new child into the fold. They teach the child their traditions and customs too. Adoption shows that a family is not created from blood and genetics alone. Instead, love and care are the foundations of a family. The experiences the parents and the children share together create memories that will last a lifetime.
Whether you have adopted an infant, a toddler, or an older child, you may experience hiccups in the initial stages before both of you get used to each other’s routines. If you are adopting a child of another race, you may have to explain the difference in skin color to them. However, remember that these are just the initial stepping stones. Once you overcome them, you will be able to parent them in your best way.
This section celebrates the creation of new connections. Whether you are looking to make them sleep well or eat healthy food, there is something for everyone here. Explore the various posts dedicated to a seamless adoption process. Bringing a new child into the family is one of the happiest moments of parents’ lives. Make this moment memorable by helping the child integrate well into their new surroundings. As with biological families, adoptive families also face certain challenges. However, overcoming these challenges and building a new life together is the way forward.
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A single person or married couple may adopt a child. A stepparent may adopt a child of their spouse too. Every state has a different adoption policy regarding age and residency. You have to be sure you pass the requirements of your state before adopting a child (8).
There are five types of adoption in the US. They are foster care or adoption through the child welfare system, international adoption, private adoption, relative or kinship adoption, and adult adoption (9).
Adoption can take any time from a few months to several years, depending on various factors, including the place of adoption, the age of the child, and verification. In general, infant adoption takes more time than adopting older children.
Adoption by same-sex couples is allowed in several states as gender-neutral terms such as “spouse” and “married couples” are used in their laws. Mississippi is the only state that prohibits same-sex couples from adopting (8).
Adoption from a foster home is usually done within the state and has little or no fees. The parents who choose to adopt through a private organization may incur costs between $30,000 to $50,000. However, they can recoup their fees from federal and state programs once the adoption is finalized. For intercountry adoptions, the costs may range from $20,000 to $50,000 (10) (11).
Adoption agencies facilitate smooth adoptions by providing several services. They match the adoptive parents with a child, arrange counseling for the birth parents, perform a home study, educate the adoptive parents and birth parents, prepare the paperwork, and perform after-adoption visits (12).
Make sure you tell the truth to your adopted child. Whether it is about their birth parents or the circumstances under which you adopted them, they deserve the right to know the truth. Also, keep open communication channels with them so they can ask you questions. Adoption is a complex topic that might cause mixed feelings in your child. There may be some psychological effects of being adopted at birth too. However, you can concentrate on making new memories with your adopted child and letting them know they hold a special place in your heart (13).