Deciding to adopt is the first in a series of many decisions hopeful adoptive parents need to make. It’s often the first step in a long decision-making process to determine the type of adoption you’re interested in, the adoption professional you will work with, what you’d like to include in your adoption plan and more.

As you prepare to begin the adoption process, studying up on a few adoption topics can help you make some of those early decisions.

Here are three big issues to explore before you get started:

  1. Types of adoption. Adoptions come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types of adoption to know which one is right for you. If you want to work with an agency to find an adoption opportunity with an infant born in the United States, you may want to pursue a private or domestic adoption. If you want to adopt from someone you already know with the help of an attorney, that’s an independent adoption. International adoption, foster care adoption and stepparent or relative adoptions are all options as well — so do your homework to determine which type of adoption is right for you.
  2. As you begin the adoption process, you will need to consider your adoption budget. Research adoption costs, grants, taxes, fundraising options and financial assistance, and plan for the expense of adoption accordingly. Compare costs of the different types of adoption, adoption professionals and programs — it pays to know all of your options!
  3. The impact of adoption. Adoption can be powerful — in countless ways, it has a positive impact on the lives of adopted children, adoptive families and birth parents. But adoption is not without its challenges, from the sometimes long adoption process to the unique challenges of parenting adopted children. Talk with other adoptive families about their experiences, reach out to your adoption professional for support and read books or blogs from other members of the adoption community. Prepare yourself for the difficulties of adoption, as well as the joys you will experience with your new child.

There is no shortage of adoption information pertaining to these topics and more. As you begin your research, look for upcoming informational meetings and adoptive family events, join an online community or forum, and speak to adoption professionals or other families who have adopted — these are all great resources that can help make your important adoption decisions informed ones.