Aspects to Consider When Adopting a Child

Raising a child is one of the most committed action anyone can undertake and that too over many years. While bringing up a biological child brings with it some cultural and psychological support, doing so for adopted child can involve an entirely different set of complications. So before you launch yourself and your family in the long and often tortuous paperwork, here are some aspects of adoption you might want to consider.

Ask yourself why

There are different reasons why couples and individuals may want to adopt a child and before you sound out the idea with others, it may be wiser to get your own thoughts and emotions in order first. To begin with, consider what are your own reasons for wanting to adopt a kid – is it because you and your partner cannot have a biological child due to medical reasons. Or is it because you have a child already and are looking to expand your family but as the mother you cannot afford to be physically indisposed for a length of time. Then again the fact that there are so many kids in the world in need of a loving home may also be a powerful factor in motivating you to seek options like adoption.

Among the worst reasons why two people often want to have kids is to fix a tottering marriage thinking that a baby will bring them closer. If your marital relationship is so bad that you don’t even have sex frequently enough to conceive and thus wish to adopt a child in order to fill the vacuum in your lives, you couldn’t be more deluded. Parenting is hard work. If your marriage is under strain already, adopting a child could be the final straw. Eventually the child will sense that he or she is supposed to hold your relationship together, a burden that no child should feel. Whatever be the reason, be honest with your motives and your desire to have a child. Clearing your thoughts will not only help you discuss the matter more effectively with your partner but actually let you understand how important is having an adopted baby for your personal fulfilment.

Like the mistaken notion of fixing a bad marriage, many reasons for adoption are similar as wanting to have a biological child. Such drives and motivations usually lie within the need to establish greater significance in life, to feel worthy, to have someone look up to you, to feel accepted and loved, to leave behind something of one’s own making in the world and so on. whether adopted or biological, wanting to have a child as a way of building up any of the layers of one’s own selfhood or self-worth is erroneous and could lead to more problems than satisfaction. so adopt a child only because you wish to have a family; because you love children and want to raise them and not just because they will help you to feel accepted, loved and immortal in some way.

Don’t seek adoption as a way of working through your issues

Oftentimes people seek to adopt a kid as an unconscious effort to work through past stories. Such stories play out from childhood to young adulthood and later often leave the individual feeling insecure or inadequate. The unconscious motivation to adopt in such people works as an opportunity to correct this deep seated complex of beliefs – which are more often than not faulty. The would-parent, unconscious of his/her motivation, seeks to adopt a child but doesn’t realize that such kids will bring their own baggage of emotional and behavioural problems because of abandonment experience, even though at pre-verbal levels. Such challenges will send the unsuspecting adoptive parent immediately into a tailspin of stress which will activate all of those old faulty self-beliefs. and because he/she does not want to feel those feelings again, the stressed out parent will work even harder to “fix” their child, because after all, the child is a reflection of them and they don’t want to face the reflection of the faulty beliefs. Thus ensues a journey of many struggles, frustrations and resentments with the adoption experience ending badly for both the kid and the parent. In order to avoid something like this from happening to you, have the courage to go into adoption with eyes wide open. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the pain you’ve lived through whether big or small but do it before bringing home another wounded soul. The only way to recognize any issues that you may have and work through them before adopting is to go for adoption counselling.

This would also be a good time to ask yourself as to how important is it to you that your child look like or share personality traits with you or your partner? Despite all the love you may be ready to shower on them, the stark reality remains that adopted children are more likely to resemble their birth parents than their adopted parents in both temperament and physical characteristics. If this is a significant problem for either you or your partner, consider whether adoption is the best option for your family.

One of the most common reasons why couples adopt is because they cannot have biological children of their own. While this is a genuine ground for adoption and relevant medical documents may help you with the adoption process, it is also necessary that you resolve any infertility issues before the arrival or an adopted child. This may perhaps include grieving your loss if you have suffered miscarriages or a bereavement. Again ask yourself honestly that if infertility was not the initial factor, would you have consider adoption to have a larger family? Ideally Parents should never feel like they are being forced into adoption or that adoption is the second-best option to a biological child. Like pregnancy, the adoption process should be filled with joy and anticipation for both the prospective parents and the adopted child.

Be prepared to put in extra work

Being separated from birth parents is a traumatic experience for any child, even if it has occurred when he/she was just an infant. This experience will indelibly have an effect on your child and may result in a spectrum of emotional, psychological and behavioural issues like being stress sensitive, fearful, insecure, having difficulty forming attachment and obeying authority figures. Be prepared to put in some extra time and effort in raising kids who may be struggling with these issues as a result of their separation or abandonment experience. While in case of biological children, parents are willing to go an extra mile in matter of parenting challenges; sometimes people tend to give up a little too easily in case of adopted children, usually blaming inherited psychological traits or cultural conditioning of the adopted child. A typical case1 came to light in September 2010 in which a seven year-old boy adopted by a woman from Tennessee was sent alone on a one-way flight back to Moscow with a note saying he was violent and had severe psychological problems. The immediate consequences of the incident varied from Russia threatening to suspend all child adoptions by U.S. families to focus on why a string of U.S. adoptions have been going wrong, including three in which Russian children had died in the U.S.; however the real problem as revealed by such incidents is simply the lack of preparation on the part of parents who are going in for adoption.

Do you have the support

Just as in a pregnancy, adoption can be fraught with unexpected pitfalls and stressors. Before jumping into adopting with both feet, make sure that you can your partner are equally up for the task and will be fully supportive of each other. Again the process of bonding with an adopted child is not just between parents and child, but between the child and the entire family; even the integration of a child into the extended family and network of friends is important for a healthy upbringing. Consider whether your family and friends would be as welcoming to an adopted child as they would be to your biological child. This is not to imply that singles are not emotionally or socially equipped to adopt children on their own. rates of single parent adoptions are increasingly all the time and now most civil societies have laws supporting the right of unmarried people to have families of their own. But there is no denying that for balanced upbringing, a child needs not only a parent as the primary caregiver but the love and support of an entire family or social network. So if you are single and thinking of adoption, consider if you have the support of your parents, siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors and co-workers to bring up a child on your own.

Do you qualify

The involvement of marital partner and larger family brings into question about who is allowed to adopt in the first place. If you and your partner make a gay or lesbian couple, you may have to go through adoption laws in your country and state in order to see whether you are legally allowed to adopt with your partner. While in some countries, singles are still not allowed to adopt, in the US, there are practically no such prohibitions and whether straight or LGBT, single parent adoptions are allowed almost by every state. There may be exceptions though like Arkansas Act One prohibits unmarried couples (both same sex and opposite sex) from adopting or fostering children. Again in North Dakota, laws on Single GLBT and joint adoption are somewhat unclear. Other than such exceptions, almost anyone – whether single, retired, or of any race and/or religion is allowed to adopt a child.

There is a notion that adoptive parents need to be rich in order to adopt a child. In reality though you also don't have to own your own home to apply to be an adoptive parent – if you have a rented place, it could do equally well. However all applications from adoptive parents will be screened for criminal history. Most states and countries will be looking for violent crimes and crimes against children. This is standard when anyone is seeking to adopt.

Can you afford it?

Raising a child – whether biological or adopted – has a definite financial angle which you should be aware of before you bring home a child. this involves not only feeding, clothing, educational and medical expenses for at least the first eighteen years of the child’s life but also various other miscellaneous costs like hobby classes, summer camps, occasional medical issues not covered by health plans and of course college funds. To add to all this, the adoption procedure has its own costs which can turn out to be very significant and which often acts as a hindrance to families considering adoption. Even adoption costs vary, ranging from fully-subsidized adoptions via state agencies to more than $30,000 for domestic infant and international adoptions. Such variation occurs due to several factors like agency and lawyer fees, travel costs and birth family needs. Though it is alright to shop around for an adoption agency, ensure that before you start looking around, you are already clear on what are your expectations from an adoption agency and what to look out for. It's also important to prepare to interview adoption professionals that you intend to work with. However it is not an entirely stark scene for adoptive parents, - Fortunately, qualified parents are eligible for an adoption tax credit and many states and employers offer additional benefits to assist with adoption costs

Be informed

And one essential aspect of this preparation is getting to know the child’s birth history. Once you have decided to adopt a child, it is crucial that you find out all that there is about the child you are going to bring home. Essential information would include history of the birth parents, the culture, the hospital where the child was born as well as the orphanage where he/she was kept till the adoption. If the child has been at a foster home, it would be best to find out more about the kind of people who were looking after him/her and the conditions of the home. Above all, the birth information of the child would contain his/her medical history as well as that of the parents which in turn will help you take the right decisions in case the child develops a medical condition later on.

Where to adopt from

There are many different reasons why people choose to adopt domestically or internationally and each reason is personal and based largely on opinion. Instead of being influenced by cultural concerns or celebrity adoptions do your own homework about the pros and cons of international as well as domestic adoption. While Caucasians make up the majority of prospective adoptive parents, the number of Caucasian babies available for adoption continues to shrink. Before adopting a child of another race or ethnicity, ask yourself difficult questions about whether you, your partner, or your friends and family have strongly-held beliefs about certain races and cultures that could adversely affect your relationship with a child.

Again if you live in the US, you can even adopt across state lines. The Adoption and Safe Families Act, passed in 1997, requires state agencies to accomplish a child's move from foster care to adoption within a certain amount of time. The bill also removes barriers to adoption by prohibiting states from delaying or denying a placement if an approved family is available outside the state.

Know what the law has to say

In the United States, laws about adoption fall within the ambit of the Adoption and Safe Families Act(ASFA), PL 105-89. According to this Act, states must start court proceedings to place children for adoption once a child had been waiting in foster care for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless there is an exception, such as it's not in the best interest of the child or the child is with a relative. In extreme cases a child may be made available for adoption earlier. Safety of the child is most important in this law and requires that the case plan include a child's safety in every step outlined. ASFA dictates that a court hearing is held every 12 months.  All special needs children are ensured health coverage in subsidized adoptions even if they are not 4E adoptions. Also the law states that States must allow and not cause a delay for the possibility of placement outside of their jurisdiction if there is an approved family member willing to parent the child. The law also lays down the conditions and process regarding Notification of, and the opportunity to be heard in any review process to foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or relatives of children in foster care.

Look for resources

The list of considerations on adopting a child can seem daunting to someone who may be considering this possibility. An effective way to sift unfounded fears from genuine considerations would be to talk to an adoption counselor. Many private and state adoption agencies hold orientation sessions and parenting classes to help prospective adoptive parents resolve these issues satisfactorily before being placed with an adopted child. If you wish to be clearer on the legal aspects or are thinking of going for international adoption, it may be worth your while to consult with lawyers trained in  adoption law to learn more about the process. Finally don’t rush the adoption process. Take your time in making your decision. Ask questions and don’t settle for answers that don’t make sense.

In the end, raising a child is an equal mix of joy and duties. Whether biological or adopted, a child needs care, love, physical sustenance and a social structure if he/she is to be a well-adjusted adult. But where you have a genetic map and a psychological head-start with biological kids, in case of adopted ones it is best you have a fair idea of the kind of challenges you are taking on.

Reference:

  1. NBCNews.com – Boy sent back to Russia; adoption ban urged