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Health & Parenting

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Are You Ready to Adopt?

WebMD Feature

Thinking about adopting a child? There’s a lot to consider.

You might want to start by asking yourself these seven questions:

1. Why do you want to adopt?

It’s a big decision. What motivates you to adopt?

"The only really good reason to adopt is because you really want to parent a child," says pediatrician Sarah Springer, MD.

2. If you've had infertility problems, are you ready to move on?

Before you adopt, you may want to take the time to process your emotions about what you've been through in trying to have a baby.

Infertility, as well as infertility treatment, can leave you with feelings that run deep, says psychologist David Brodzinsky, PhD. Some people may need to grieve the loss related to infertility before they're ready to adopt, he says. Counseling may help prepare you to move forward.

3. Are you ready for the responsibility?

Becoming a parent is a lifelong commitment. If you don't have kids now, are you ready for the permanent change that happens with parenthood?

Many adopted children thrive in their new families. But some have extra challenges. Are you prepared for that possibility?

4. Who do you want to bring into your family?

"I always suggest that families just starting to consider adoption think about three variables," Springer says.

  1. The child's age
  2. The child's ethnic background
  3. U.S. or international adoption

These are personal choices; there is no right or wrong answer.

5. How long are you willing to wait?

All adoptions involve paperwork, background checks, and waiting, but some take longer than others.

According to a survey from Adoptive Families magazine, adopting an infant within the U.S. usually takes between 3 and 24 months; adopting older children from foster care usually takes 2 to 12 months. International adoptions can take up to 5 years, depending on the country.

6. Are you ready financially?

The fees involved in adopting an infant in the U.S. typically run as much as $40,000, and in some instances, they may go higher. Make sure the initial estimate that you're given includes all costs, such as a home study, background checks, travel expenses (if applicable), and post-placement costs; there shouldn't be any additional or hidden fees.

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