While domestic adoption rates in the United States have declined since the 1970s, the number of adoptions in the country still number 25 000 to 30 000 a year, a figure which represents an average of 19 000 more than international adoption rates.
How Domestic Adoption Works
The aim of the adoption process is to ensure a good fit for both the parents and the child they’d like to adopt.
The first step for those interested in adopting a child is deciding on an adoption agency. Both public and private agencies exist. The best thing to do is ask family and friends for recommendations on agencies either they or people they know have used. This helps screen agencies and will help you find a successful agency that works for you more quickly.
During the first meeting with the agency, the specifics of the adoption process will be discussed. The potential parents will be asked to fill out a variety of forms in order to begin their adoption file.
Some adoption agencies require that individuals take classes in order to educate themselves on the process, which the agency itself often organizes.
A home study conducted by a social worker follows, and is accompanied by interviews with the counselor and parents, both together and individually. A criminal check, fingerprinting references and medical history are also conducted.
Next, the parents are matched with a child. This match is based on several factors, including location, finances, religion and ethnicity; factors with which the birth parents are increasingly involved.
After the placement, a follow-up is conducted by the agency to ensure that the process has gone smoothly.
Eligibility requirements for domestic adoption vary from state to state. Birth families are becoming increasingly involved in the type of home into which their child will be adopted. This is known as an open adoption. Because of this, parents under 25 and over 45 will generally have a longer wait; also, couples and people with smaller families usually get selected more often than singles or families with several children.
Babies must be born before birth parents can travel to a different state, although the exact length of time that must pass after the birth varies from a couple of days to several weeks, depending on the state.
There are four main areas of criteria when adopting a child:
- legal criteria: each state has different legal policies when it comes to adoption. These laws include whether or not a person who is not a resident of a certain state can adopt a child in that state
- preferred agency criteria: these are terms imposed by the agency itself in assisting adoptive parents, for example, the economic resources available to help each family
- criteria sought by the birth parents: this can include what ethnicity and religion the adoptive family is
- adopting parents criteria and limitations: these are self-imposed limitations, such as financial costs, age of the child, health
The potential costs of adoption depend on state law; for example, if the family lives far from where the baby is born, this will increase travel costs. Also, in some cases parents might pay some of the medical and living costs for the birth mother.
Estimated costs of domestic adoption range from $4 000 to $10 000.
Common Reasons Why People Adopt
The most common reason why people choose to adopt children is that they are experiencing fertility problems.
Also, many people who adopt want to provide a home for a less privileged child.
Domestic versus International Adoption
Domestic adoption is less expensive than international adoption because adopting parents don’t have to pay for expensive travel costs or foreign documents. Also, with a domestic adoption, your chance of adopting a newborn is higher, whereas in international adoptions children are generally placed from orphanages and so they tend to be a little older.
On the other hand, domestic adoption is more difficult. Unlike in international adoption cases, where children are generally more needy, domestic adoption has more selective criteria, making it harder to adopt a child.
If you’re considering adoption, it’s important to know that there are several resources available to help you with the process.
Educate yourself; talk to friends and relatives who’ve adopted or who know someone who has adopted a child. Networking can help you find an excellent adoption agency with which you feel comfortable.
Public and private adoption agencies can be found all over the country. Different agencies have specialized fields; for example, some specialize in placing children with special needs. Find the one that’s right for you.
Be consistent and proactive. Being involved in every step of the adoptive make it that much more fulfilling and rewarding.