This Is What Adoption Feels Like
Can I handle being "different" from other families?
From "Did I grow in your tummy?" to "Who do I look like, Mom?"
there will always be sticky issues that set you apart from other families. How
will you discuss them with your children? "Very important — do you have a
thick skin?" asks Romanchik. "People will say stupid things to you
sometimes, like, 'Aren't you afraid the real mother will take her away?' Do you
know how to deal with them in a way that's healthy for your child?" Good
adoption agencies offer classes, programs, and counseling that can help you
navigate these answers.
Laws vary depending on where you live — for instance, some states allow
attorney-mediated adoption; others require you to use a licensed agency. Make
sure that you understand the rules in your state as well as in the state where
the child lives or will be born. You can look up state laws at
laws.adoption.com, but attempting a completely do-it-yourself education on
adoption law may leave you baffled. So seek a licensed adoption attorney
through the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (adoptionattorneys.org) for
Most domestic adoptions are at least "semi-open," meaning that at a
minimum, letters, photos, and other information are exchanged periodically
through an intermediary such as an agency. Adoptions that are more open involve
direct contact through letters, phone calls, and e-mails. And in fully open
adoptions, ongoing visits are common.
Costs for domestic adoption run the gamut. Some agency adoptions add up to
well over $30,000, while an "identified adoption" — in which the
prospective adoptive parents themselves locate the birth parents through
advertising and other outreach — can cost less than $10,000.
PROS: Domestic adoption gives you the greatest likelihood of bringing
home a newborn, an experience many families yearn for. You are also more likely
than with an international adoption to find out the birth family's medical
history — and to have a more open adoption.
CONS: Your wait for a placement can be anywhere from less than a
month to two years or more. Because the expectant parents usually choose the
adopting parents — a situation known as a "match" — there's no way to
know when you'll be selected. A survey found that 31 percent of families
experience at least one failed match because the mother or father decides to
parent the child; some agencies report that the rate of failed matches may be
higher. It's vital to remember that they have this right, and to be prepared
for the emotional upheaval of this possibility.
More than half a million children were in foster care in 2005. Of those, 52,000
were adopted, and 115,000 were waiting to be. Many of the remaining children
were awaiting possible reunification with their families. Adopting from foster
care usually means working with your state's department of child and family
services, but there are also private foster agencies, such as Casey Family
Services (caseyfamilyservices.org), an East Coast nonprofit.