Once you’ve decided that adoption is the path you’ll use to start your family, you’re probably wondering how to start the process of adoption. Getting started can feel mind-boggling. Some of the questions on your mind may include: should we adopt through a facilitator or agency? Do we want an open adoption exchange with the birth parents? Can we afford to adopt? Here are some tips to help you discover the particulars of adopting a baby or child:
- Determine your adoption path
The single most important decision you must make before beginning this path is determining the type of adoption that will be right for your family. It is a fact that the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be when you need to make decisions. You should know the terminology used in different adoptions and how to avoid common pitfalls. There are decisions to make about the type of domestic adoption you desire, including the relationship you are comfortable having with your child’s birth family, the type of adoption professional you want to help you, and how to present yourself to potential birth parents.
In an agency adoption, the child is legally and often physically relinquished to an adoption agency. The agency then places the child with a qualified adoptive family of the agency’s choosing. In an independent or private adoption, the birth parents legally transfer their parental rights directly to the adoptive parents that they have chosen and may choose to place the baby directly into their arms. This type of adoption allows many more choices for both birth families and adoptive couples.
Choose open, semi-open, or closed adoption
Closed adoption used to be the norm: adoptive parents never met with birth parents and the child’s records were sealed. Closed adoptions are still feasible, but these days there is usually some openness. Adoption experts recognize that some degree of open adoption is in the best interest of all involved. It allows adoptive couples to get their child’s medical information, and to be aware of the child’s origins.
Together with the birth mother, you’ll all make a decision on what type of open adoption is best…there are many ways to do an open adoption. Some adoptive families connect with the birth mother only through their agency, sending annual pictures and updates. Another adoptive couple might form a strong relationship with their child’s birth family, for example having in-person visits and including them in family events. Your degree of openness might evolve over time too; the birth mother might start to desire less contact, or your child may want to connect with his birth mother during an especially trying time in his life.
Explore how to afford adoption
You may have to budget, save, or even finance your adoption, but the value of your investment, a life enriched by a child, can never be measured! Before agreeing to work with any adoption professional, ask for their contract, fee schedule, and outline of anticipated additional costs to complete your adoption. If the organization mentions ‘match‛ or ‘placement‛ fees, be sure to ask what happens if the match or placement fails. Be sure to get everything in writing.
The good news is that you may qualify for a federal tax credit of over $13,000 for qualified expenses to adopt a qualifying baby or child. At times, the credit may also be allowed for a special needs adoption, even when there are no qualified expenses for the adoption. Currently, there are limits to this credit if your modified gross income is over $182,000, but check with your tax consultant for current IRS statutes. You and your spouse should also check with your work’s HR department: some companies have adoption credits for their employees who adopt. Other options include taking money from your savings, getting an adoption loan, or fundraising. Learn about the adoption loan that Lifetime Adoption is able to provide, through Light Stream, here: http://lifetimeadoption.com/adoptive-families/financing-your-adoption/ Lifetime is also able to offer you an adoption grant through the African American Enrichment Program.
Give us a call if you have questions about starting the adoption process: 1-800-923-6784. Or you may contact us online.