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    Getting Started With Adoption

    Starting a family by adopting may be a second choice, but advocates say it isn't a second-best choice. Still, there is a lot to consider after you've made the decision to adopt a child.

    The Right Route

    Choosing the right route to adoption means, ultimately, choosing the right child -- not just one that will please you, but one for whom you can provide the best upbringing.

    Creedy tells of one couple she counseled on adoption, who were white and living in Louisiana. "They were adamant that they didn't care about the race of the child and that they wanted to go overseas," she says. "A black child did not faze them at all. They were open to any and all possibilities.

    "I said, well, I'm glad to hear that, but what is your milieu? In other words, how are your parents going to feel about a black child? And how are your neighbors? And how is the school?"

    Upon considering this, the couple changed their minds.

    "Their job is to make that child as comfortable as possible," Creedy says. "If they know that relatives harbor prejudices, and they reckon love will conquer all, they're not doing right by that child."

    There are children available for adoption in orphanages all over the world -- particularly the developing world. Adopting from another country is a popular option, given that adoptive parents tend to want babies, and babies tend to be more readily available abroad. But by adopting internationally, you'll likely create a mixed-race family, in which case you'd have to be willing to accept all that entails.

    Adopting a child out of foster care is another option. In 1999, the most recent year for which data are available, 117,000 American kids in foster care were available for adoption.

    Kids in foster care often have "special needs," which can mean a number of things. They tend to be older, for one. Few infants are available. There are also many sets of siblings who must be adopted together, children who are emotionally troubled or developmentally challenged, and some with medical problems.

    You may be willing and able to deal with special needs; you may not.

    Adoption agencies and attorneys who specialize in adoption are another route to finding a child here in the U.S. Their function is to connect you with a mother who wants you to adopt her child.

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