Adopt a Child

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn, Jonathan

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Babies are such a wonderful gift. Deciding to become a parent is momentous, rewarding and humbling experience. There are, however, people who do not have the biological capacity to bear a child who want to experience the joys of parenthood. Like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, there are also couples who want to share their love and blessings to less fortunate orphans of this world. To these people adoption is an option. Interested? How do you adopt a child?

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Adoption is a legal process in which a family is given the complete rights and responsibilities to look after the general welfare of another person's child. The process makes the child a full and permanent legal member of the adoptive family. Prior to adoption, a home study is conducted based on mutual assessment and coordination by either an agency or a social worker, and the prospective adoptive parents to determine the latter's eligibility to adopt.

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Types of Adoption

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    Foster Care Adoption. The process involves the adoption of children under the custody of the State Department of Child and Family Services. It is usually handled by either local public or private agencies contracted by the State.
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    States or Jurisdictions Adoption.
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    Adopting children from other states is covered by the regulations of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC is an inter-State agreement that ensures the legality of adopting children across State lines.
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    Independent Adoption.
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    Also called voluntary relinquishment, this process involves the decision of some pregnant women and expectant parents to place their infants under the care of a private or public agency or a lawyer for adoption purposes. Apart from being faster, adopting independently provides adoptive parents with greater control of the search process.
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    Inter-Country Adoption.
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    The process involves adopting a child from another country. It is a longer process due to the need to meet the requirements imposed by the adoptive parent's country and that of the child's.
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Eligibility to Adopt

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The general rule applies that any adult who is fit enough to be a parent is eligible to adopt a child. However, some states impose certain restrictions and stricter laws when it comes to adoption. Restrictions may also apply to some individuals or couples with different orientation or preference. Even though technically they pass all the requirements, the court may still rule out against adoption using the argument for the "best interests of the child."

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To successfully qualify as adoptive parents, the following attributes must be possessed:

  • Lifelong commitment to take care of the child
  • Tolerance to value and cultural differences
  • Flexibility, but at the same time firmness in providing character structure for the child
  • Have a reliable support system to prop the parenting duties
  • Have positive expectations for the child's future
  • Have the ability to satisfy the emotional and physical needs of the child

Preparing Before the Adoption

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Families with an intention to adopt need to consider many things prior to a final decision. There is much to think and learn about in order to be prepared psychologically, emotionally, and financially regarding the addition of a child as new member of the family. One cannot be in a hurry, as this is a lifetime commitment. It is something that requires forethought and thorough evaluation to come up with an intelligent and caring decision.

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    Infertility Issues. The inability to have a biological child can be an emotional blow for people hoping to become parents. Individuals or couples desiring to have a family have to deal with the disappointing truth about their inadequacy to bear and give birth to their own child.
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    Emotional Preparation. The tedious process before adoption involves a long waiting period that is both emotional and nerve-wracking for prospective adoptive parents.
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    Need for Openness. The adoption process involves communication among and between birth parents, adoptive parents, the adopted child, and the agency. The amount of time and the form of communication may vary depending on the current needs: Person to person, email, holiday visits, mediated contact, and little or no contact at all. Each of these forms requires a different degree and amount of openness.
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    Pre-Adoption Training. Each type of adoption requires different types and number of training hours. Depending on your pursuit, whether through an agency, independently, inter-state or inter-country, pre-adoption training is necessary to complete the process.
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    Preparing for Parenting Challenges. It is important to be informed and be prepared to meet potential challenges the family can expect. Regardless of adoption type, all adopted people have a past to deal with.
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    Getting Support from Other Adoptive Families. While each adoption case is unique in itself, it may be very helpful to connect with families who underwent the same experience to get some support, guidance, and pointers.
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  • Fulfill Adoption Requirements

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      Finance the Adoption.
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      The expenses to be incurred depend on the type of adoption you selected. Adoption is usually expensive, especially if you're adopting a child from another country. If you factor in all expenses, you may have to allot at least $30,000 to include the following:  
      1. Home Study Fees
      2. Counselling Fees
      3. Medical Expenses of the Birth Mother
      4. Medical Expenses of the Child
      5. Legal Fees
      6. Travel Expenses
      7. If you're opting for foster care adoption, your expenses may be reimbursed by the agency.
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        The inter-State adoption process entails the least expenses of all. Oftentimes, the adoptive parents get tax exemption beyond the travel expenses and court fees they have to pay.
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      Comply with State Laws. Find out which agencies are accredited to process adoption in your particular state. If you find it confusing, hire a credible adoption lawyer to spearhead the process in your stead.
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      Go through a Home Study. Adoption will not be finalized unless prospective adoptive parents undergo a home study. During the process, the agency or state sends a licensed social worker to meet and spend some time with the family, individually and as a group, to make sure they are qualified to accept a new member into their fold.
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    The Search for a Match

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      Deal with the right agency.
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      It is vital to check the credentials of the adoption agency to be sure you're not wasting time, money, and effort. Talk with several agencies before narrowing down your choice to one which you can trust. Your relationship with the agency could go for many years after adoption has been finalized.
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      Establish a good relationship with the biological mother.
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      Once the birth mother has selected your profile, you may begin working out a cordial relationship with her. It's a hit and miss process, meaning you may either click or it can be initially frustrating. Be patient. The mother has the prerogative to change her mind if she believes you're not the right fit for her child.
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      Meet the child.
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      The waiting period varies depending on the adoption route you selected.  
      1. With the foster care system, you get to meet the child earlier than the other types of adoption process.
      2. Meeting the child you're adopting from another country is dictated by the country's laws. Usually, the adoptive parents are asked to fly to the child's country for the meeting.
      3. Adopting a baby from a biological mother means you get the chance to be in the hospital for the birth.
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    All through these, the social worker facilitates the series of meetings. After a few meetings, the child will be allowed to live with you for several days or weeks on trial basis.

    The Final Stage of the Adoption Process

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      Complete the documents.
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      Adopting a child involves voluminous paper works before the process can be completed. You may consider hiring a lawyer to handle this area to avoid court battles that may possibly arise due to some omissions or mistakes on your part.
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      Attend court hearing. The last and final stage is a court hearing wherein the judge will rule according to the recommendation of the agency, particularly the social worker. A certificate of adoption serving as temporary birth certificate will be awarded pending a new birth certificate naming the child as member of your family.
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      Welcome the child to the family.
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      The post-court hearing usually ends with a party to celebrate the completion of the adoption process and to formally welcome the child into his new family.
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    Tips, Tricks and Warnings

    • Be prepared to deal with a child adopted from foster care. Many children in foster care may have psychological issues due to possible history of neglect or abuse.
    • If you're planning to adopt from abroad, conduct thorough research on the adoption policies of the target country, as well as the adoption agencies there. Make sure to comply with international and national laws on adoption to avoid legal issues in the future.
    • Be prepared to talk in the open and admit to your child that he is adopted when the time is ripe. You will have no problem with the child in terms of his reaction if you have raised him up well in a happy but disciplined and moral environment. He will be happy and in gratitude to be adopted and raised in your loving care.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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    Article Info

    Categories : Family

    Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Nerissa Avisado

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