For the fourth post in my Adoption Series, contributor Lori Larson Horst shares tips for those considering adoption in the form of questions and answers. This is a subject that has been near and dear to her heart for many years. You can learn more about Lori on the About page.
1. Where will we adopt?
This is a deeply personal choice, and when we decided on international adoption, we narrowed our choice to Africa and then to one of the 3 countries currently open. In Africa, only Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia are open to outside adoption by the major agencies. Many people chose China or another Asian country as a place to adopt as these countries have been in this business (for lack of a better word) for many years.
We opted against domestic adoption due to the restrictions and possible negative outcomes. Depending on your type of domestic adoption, the adopted child may be taken back by his or her biological mother up until his or her 18th birthday. We felt we couldn’t deal with that type of heartache.
2. What agency will we use?
This is a difficult decision. I recommend Googling several and then sending off for information and making a pro and con list of the agencies you receive. Things to look for:
- Make sure that they are approved by the US gov’t. You can see this by Googling US gov’t and adoption and you will find a list of approved agencies. I would only use an approved agency, so that you are not conned.
- Make sure that the agency will communicate with you via email, phone and mail and quickly. I contacted one agency and didn’t hear from them again until months later, and that automatically took that agency off my list. In this process, you’ll want quick and consistent communication.
- I prefer an agency that will send you a packet that you can look over on your own time. Some will only have this information online, but the packet in the mail seems more professional and is easier for you when you compare and contrast.
- Obviously, make sure that the place you would like to adopt from has a relationship with the agency you choose.
- Check prices and qualifications. How much and how many years etc,. must you have in order to adopt (more about price below).
- The most helpful addition in some agencies is a list of people with their addresses, emails and phone numbers who have adopted or are in the process of adopting with this agency. You can then talk to a person who understands what you are going through. I have only seen one agency so far that does this, and it is the one I have chosen.
3. How much will it cost?
The prices range with countries. You can’t usually access that information without signing up with a particular agency. International adoption ranges with country, and in my research, South Korea was the most expensive and Ethiopia the least. When you research, you may find a different result because it changes according to agency and year. Suffice to say, you will need at least $15,000 and that is a very, very low estimate. I would recommend making a savings account and compiling the funds before you proceed.
4. What will my family say?
About adoption, usually the responses are: when and why? And also, the common question arises: are you going to have “your own” kids? Be prepared to explain your timeline and reasoning behind adoption. It’s also a good time to remind them that this child will be “your own” whether or not he or she is a biological child.
About international adoption, the response usually is why not domestic adoption? Again, be ready to explain your thought processes to your family members and understand that some people will never come on board with this idea. Most are usually happy with the idea, but others are prejudiced against adoption completely.
About interracial adoption, the response sometimes is about the differences of race. I would affirm that love and compassion reaches beyond racial barriers. It is better to have a child loved and cared for rather than abandoned simply because the child looks different than his or her parents.
5. How long will it take?
Expect anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, usually, once the paperwork is filed. This varies greatly due to country and, well, Murphy’s law.
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