For adoptive families, the adoption process can seem like a series of difficult decisions. In fact, in some ways, adoption is one big decision-making process. The choices you make, from the type of adoption you pursue to the types of adoption situations you are open, help shape the course of your adoption, and ultimately, your family.
To make informed decisions through every step of the adoption process, it is important to familiarize yourself with all of your adoption options. In this article, you will find helpful information about all of your options through each step of the adoption process so you can make the best adoption decisions for your family.
There are several possibilities when it comes to the type of adoption you might pursue: domestic infant adoption, foster care adoption, stepparent or relative adoption and international adoption. Each type of adoption varies in its processes, costs, wait times, advantages and challenges.
If you are unsure of which type of adoption you would like to pursue, research your options carefully. Make a list of your priorities and goals for the adoption, and write an exhaustive list of pros and cons for each type of adoption. Compare these lists to your list of priorities. Are you most concerned with a shorter wait time? You may want to adopt domestically. Are you hoping to keep costs low? You may want to consider adopting from the foster care system.
Every adoption story is unique, and the type of adoption you choose is only the first of many adoption options that will help shape your adoption story.
Once you have selected the type of adoption your family is interested in, the next option is to consider the adoption professional you would like to work with.
For some adoptive families, choosing the right adoption professional may seem like a fairly straightforward decision — but the adoption professional you decide to work with can have an impact on your other adoption options throughout the process.
Whether you choose to work with a national adoption agency, local adoption agency, adoption facilitator or adoption attorney can affect your ability to make certain decisions about your adoption. For example, you may not have as much control over communication with the birth parents when working with an adoption facilitator or adoption attorney, as these professionals are not likely to mediate contact for you. Adoption agencies, on the other hand, will likely give you the option to keep your identifying information private — although it is now common for even those in semi-open adoptions to share last names for the benefit of all involved.
As you research your adoption professional options, keep in mind the services each offers and the level of control each will give you over different aspects of the adoption. The best way to make an informed decision is to ask questions. You should ask each adoption professional that you are considering what options you will have throughout the adoption process. Will you get to choose the types of adoption situations you are interested in? Do you have control over the level of contact you would like to have with the birth parents?
Once you choose your adoption professional, they will help you consider these adoption options and more as you develop your adoption plan.
At American Adoption, the birth mother is ultimately in control of her adoption plan, and she is the one who gets to choose the adoptive family for her baby. However, adoptive families can decide which birth mothers they will potentially be matched with based on the choices they make in their Adoptive Family Questionnaire (APQ).
Your APQ is where you will make the majority of your decisions about your adoption. It is important to carefully consider your adoption options at this stage of the process to ensure you are comfortable with the adoption opportunities you are matched with. You have several options when determining the following factors:
Program and Race Combinations – American Adoptions has two adoption programs that families can choose from: Traditional and Agency-Assisted. The Agency-Assisted program involves the adoption of a baby with African American heritage. In addition, you will be asked to select the race combinations you are open to adopting. The races you select may depend on a variety of factors, including your community’s cultural diversity. In addition, you may want to consider:
Wait Times: The wait time is generally shorter in the Agency-Assisted Program
Costs: American Adoptions subsidizes some costs for the Agency-Assisted Program
Comfort Level: There are many benefits and challenges associated with transracial adoption. If you are considering adopting a child with a different racial or cultural background from you, you should be prepared to learn about and embrace that culture and make it a part of your baby’s life. While nontraditional family types are increasingly common and accepted, you should also be prepared for the possibility of “standing out” as a transracial family and the many complex issues that can arise as a result.
Substance Exposure and Other Health Information – Birth mothers who work with American Adoptions are asked to voluntarily disclose their health history and substance use information. As you fill out your APQ, you will have the opportunity to decide what types of health conditions and substance exposure you are open to.
It is important to do your research to understand the impact of different substances on babies’ long-term development and make informed decisions based on your findings and what you are comfortable with. While it is important to consider your ability to provide care to a child that may have long-term medical or behavioral issues, you should also know all of the facts and remember that being flexible can dramatically reduce your adoption wait times.
Contact with the Birth Parents – Adoptions can be categorized as open, semi-open or closed, depending on the level of contact and the type of information exchanged between adoptive families and birth parents. American Adoptions requires adoptive families to agree to a certain standard of open adoption, in which phone numbers and email addresses are exchanged to allow for pre- and post-placement contact, picture and letter updates are sent to the birth parents (directly or through our agency) and an in-person visit is conducted within the first five years.
Some birth parents request more open adoptions with more frequent contact such as phone calls, emails or even in-person visits, while some birth parents request a more closed or semi-open adoption with infrequent contact and mediation by our agency.
The level of openness you decide to have in your adoption beyond our basic requirements will depend entirely on your comfort level and the relationship you form with your child’s birth parents. Aside from agreeing to send picture and letter updates through the agency and the other standards we set, your level of openness is not something you have to decide right away. In fact, most adoptive family-birth parent relationships naturally grow and change over time.
Budget – Your adoption budget covers your advertising, home study, attorney fees, agency fees, birth mother living expenses and travel. Deciding what you can comfortably afford is an important step that will also affect your adoption options, including the type of adoption and programs you can afford. While it is important to be realistic about your financial situation, it is important to remember that the more restrictive you are with your budget, the longer your wait may be.
The choices you make throughout the adoption process may impact costs, wait times and more. However, your decisions are personal, and it should all come down to what you are most comfortable with. With all of the adoption options available to adoptive families, the possibilities are endless. While making certain adoption decisions can be difficult, doing so will allow your family to find the fit that is perfect for you.
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