So you are thinking of adopting….now what?


So you are thinking of adopting….now what?

Thinking of adopting? There are so many things to consider and questions to ask yourself that it can seem overwhelming.  Where do you even start? Here are some basic tips to get you going.

First, the adoption journey is not for everyone.   If, after doing your research, you decide that adoption is not the right path for your family, do not feel upset or discouraged.  Adoption is not for everyone, just like pregnancy, fertility treatments or any other method of expanding a family are not for everyone.  No method is better or worse than any other, just different, with each having its own set of benefits and challenges.  You need to be very honest with yourself about your why.  Why do you want to adopt?  There are as many reasons to want to adopt as there are reasons for expectant/biological mothers to place children.  You just need to have a very personal reason that will be your strength as you make this journey because the trip may be very long and difficult.

That being said, I’ll assume you decide that adoption is for you.  There are some major decisions you need to make while thinking of adopting.  Do LOTS of your own research.  This info is from my own research and experience, but your circumstances may be different.  When beginning the process, you will have a lot of decisions to make.  The more open you are to a variety of situations, the faster you will be matched with an expectant/biological mother (in theory).

woman-filling-out-formsThe basics- Choosing the type of situations to which you are open may be one of the few things you can control in this whole process.  A lot will be out of your hands, but you need to decide if you are open to boys or girls, the age range you would accept, if you will take siblings/twins/triplets, and if you open to a child with special needs or that had substance exposure before birth.  Special needs and substance use sound scary but there have been many advances in medicine that allow a variety of conditions to be fairly easily managed with the proper care, so do not automatically mark these as a “No” or “Never”.  Do extensive research while thinking of adopting, talk to medical professionals, adoption professionals, and adoptive parents and decide what is best for your family.  Also decide on your budget.  Yes that sounds awful and the gut reaction is that finances shouldn’t factor into your decision, but be reasonable, responsible, and realistic about the amount of money your family can afford.  Fundraisers and grants will help boost your own savings, but don’t base your entire budget on those resources.  There are many ways to adopt and the costs can be as low as $0 or as high as $45,000.

International/domestic/foster-to-adopt- Once you have decided the basics, you need to decide the best route to find your child.  The 3 main ways to adopt in the U.S. are international, domestic, or foster-to-adopt.


  • International adoptions are usually for older children (6 months to 10 years) who are in orphanages.  The biological parents  will most likely not be the people deciding if you are a match for the child.  You will be given the opportunity to accept specific children that match your search criteria, so you will have information about your child and often have photos of him/her before you ever get to meet.  Many countries have fast track programs for families open to adopting a child with “special needs”.  The definition of “special needs” varies by country and can range from having a cleft palate to more serious conditions. Many conditions are very treatable in the U.S., but maybe not so much in the child’s home country.  The waiting period and expense for international adoption also varies by country.  International adoption requires you to use an accredited adoption agency that works with the home country and a lot more paperwork and process than other forms of adoption.  A home study is required, as with all types of adoption, but also extra background checks and clearances.  The birth parents parental rights are terminated before you return to the U.S. and, in many cases, the child is fully adopted in the home country with little to no additional steps required in the U.S.  Unfortunately, there are potential pitfalls unique to international adoption that can include unethical situations in the home country (like human trafficking basically), political turmoil that can close the adoption system and borders completely, misrepresentation of the child’s health, and having little to no information about the biological family. Average costs are $15,000-$45,000.


  • Domestic adoptions in the U.S. are usually newborn adoptions where you are united with the baby at, or shortly after, birth.  Laws vary by state regarding how you can be matched with an expectant mother (i.e. if you can advertise yourself).  Most people work with an adoption agency or private attorney who will do the legwork to help you find a match.  If you choose to use an agency, make sure they are licensed in your state or can work with you if not. Some agencies/attorneys will accept out of state families, but you have to be willing and able to travel to their state (or wherever the child is) for placement, which sometimes means a stay of 1 week to a few months after birth, depending on that state’s law.  If you choose to use an attorney, make sure they are very experienced in adoptions.  Adoption is a very different area than other types of law and you need someone who knows the law and the Court process.  Agencies tend to have a wider reach with advertising for expectant mothers, while attorneys may work with fewer families hoping to adopt, so there are pros and cons to each.  Most agencies and attorneys offer resources to both the adoptive family and the expectant family, like counseling . You will decide which types of situations you would accept (i.e. substance use while pregnant, family history of mental illness, biological father knowledge/involvement, etc.) and what level of contact you are willing to maintain.  Most adoptions are now considered “open” but that is just a verbal agreement between the families of how often and how they will stay in contact going forward.  This can be letters, pictures, phone calls and/or visits.  Do not agree to a level of contact that you are not truly willing to honor once the adoption is final. You may have to take educational classes related to adoption and you will have to pass background checks and have a home study.  You will create an online profile and/or a profile book that will tell all about your life that will be shown to expectant mothers/families that meet your search criteria and the expectant mother will decide which family she feels is a match.  You will be contacted by your agency/attorney with the details and you will decide if you want to move forward.  A meeting may be arranged with the expectant mother before the match is considered official.  Once a match is official, you wait until the time of birth or placement, then you travel when the call comes.  Your worker/attorney will let you know what to expect and what Court proceedings are necessary.  The major drawback to this type of adoption for the matched family is that the expectant mother may choose to parent (aka “a disruption” or “failed match”), so you will not have a child and can potentially lose some or all expenses paid for placement.  An expectant mother/father has every legal right to decide to parent before the consent for adoption becomes irrevocable (usually 3 days to a month, but vary by state) and, while a disruption is devastating to the adoptive family, the expectant mother/father has reasons for deciding against placement and has to do what she/he feels is right for her/him and her/his family, as do you. You may be matched within a few weeks or it may take several years.  Typically, the more open you are to a variety of situations, the faster you will get a match, but by “faster” that can still mean a year or more.  Costs can be $5,000-40,000, most situations with agencies are $25,000-30,000.


  • Foster-to-adopt is the 3rd major type of adoption in the U.S.  The foster care system procedures and regulations vary by state, but in general, children are removed from their original homes because of abuse or neglect, and these children range in age from birth to 17 years old.  Newborns may be removed from the hospital and placed into foster care if drugs are found in their systems or if the family leaves the hospital without the child of their own choosing.  Children placed into foster care go to foster care homes that have been pre-approved by the state.  Potential foster parents have to take educational classes related to child care and parenting, have background checks and a home study.  A child remains in a foster home until the Court decides if the child will return to the biological family (birth parents or other family relation) or the Court terminates the parental rights of the birth parents.  A child cannot be adopted from foster care until the parental rights are terminated, which can take a few weeks or a few years.  Social workers from your state assist you along the way.  Costs are minimal for this type of adoption, usually $0-2,500, depending on your state.  A monthly stipend may also be provided by the state to assist in providing for the child’s needs for a varying length of time.  This type of adoption has the lowest financial cost to the adoptive family, but children are often older and may have special emotional needs to be considered that require special care and the time to final adoption may be long.

In short, there are many ways to expand your family through adoption.  Look at your current family circumstances and your goals and desires and do a lot of research.  Then you can make a great decision that you feel very comfortable with!  Expect a lot of paperwork, a lot of too personal questions from virtual strangers (the social/adoption workers), some disappointments and potentially a lot of expenses, but when you have that child finally in your home, all that falls aside and you are a FAMILY! God will send you the right child at the right time. He did for us, the very day we had actually gotten so discouraged that we decided to put adoption on the back burner and just let whatever happened happen (3 days later, we had a son).  It’s wonderful and so worth it!

Congratulations and good luck!


Adoption Trolls…The worst of the worst

Nothing will ruin your online day like a troll, but there is a special breed of troll that is the worst of the worst…the adoption troll


ADOPTION TROLL– Person who seeks out adoption groups and people hoping to adopt then proceeds to tear apart the adoption process and hopeful parents, never offers a positive experience, and rarely is an adoptive/foster parent themselves.

If you haven’t encountered an adoption troll in your journey yet, then you are very lucky.  These adoption trolls are most often online but can also be misguided friends and family that troll you unintentionally because of misinformation.  I am writing this post today because of an incident on an adoption board I recently saw where yet another adoption troll had hijacked a thread of a woman who was considering adoption to add to her family and was seeking honest advice.  The adoption troll  in question wasted no time ripping her apart, then the process in general and then everyone else who posted.  Again, this was an ADOPTION group that supports people who have actually placed or adopted a child, and clearly this person had done neither, so why they joined the group I have no clue, except to be a pain to us all.  I also had a truly awful online experience when we began our journey when I asked how other people raised funds.  I got NO helpful info and was so beaten down by the horrible responses that I deleted the thread.


So here are tips to spot adoption trolls and how to handle them because they seem to only have the same basic 4 issues.

1.  “If you want to adopt, you should adopt a child from foster care”– Ok, I am just going to speak about foster care in the US because I have no experience with the system in other countries.  Yes, children in foster care need families perhaps more than any other child.  However, these children have a unique set of circumstances that other children may not because they HAVE been abused or neglected or they would not be in foster care.  There is of course the rare instance when children go into foster care because the parent(s) can not provide for them and request care, but this is not the majority of cases.  An abused or neglected child has experienced trauma that can stick with them their entire lives, even infants put into foster care at birth because of substance abuse.  It takes a very special type of person or family to understand the needs of these children and provide the patience and resources they need.  You can’t go into the foster care process without realizing that.  The laws very in every state, but most families have multiple foster child placements before they are able to adopt a child from the system and sometimes it takes a very long time to adopt from the system.  Any or all of these issues could mean that a foster child would not be the right choice for a family.  This does not make that family evil people for choosing to adopt another way.  It just means they realize their circumstances and that would not be the best for the foster child or their family.  Adoption trolls that use this argument usually have ZERO experience with the foster care system.  They haven’t worked with it, been in it, or been a foster parent themselves.

2.  “There are so many kids in this country that need homes, why are you adopting internationally?”– This is similar to the foster care argument.  Children in other countries often face far worse lives than we could ever imagine just because they are orphans and the culture and economy can’t or won’t support them and it’s even worse for special needs orphans.  Seeing them everyday on television and the internet just breaks your heart, how could you not love them?  International children are often older and have also experienced trauma and neglect.  The situation is very different if you have a closed, international adoption or an open domestic adoption.    One situation is no better or worse.  You just have to be really honest about what you are willing to do and can handle on a daily basis and you have the right and responsibility to make those decisions.

3.  “You should give that money to the pregnant woman so she can keep her baby”– This is an adoption troll favorite and you will see it time and time again.  There are as many reasons for placing a child for adoption as their are reasons to adopt.  Financial reasons are not the only factor for a woman thinking about choosing adoption for her child.  There are many resources available to pregnant women that are provided by the government or local organizations in their areas so that if money is their only issue and they want to raise their baby, they have financial help.  If money was the only issue, there would probably be a lot less adoptions.  Plus what good would your one time donation of whatever amount really do for this woman in the long run to raise this child his/her whole life? Yes adoption is usually very experience, for a variety of reasons that are a whole other topic, but giving that money to a pregnant woman would rarely have any impact on her decision for parenting.  Also, many adoptions give the expectant mother “birth mother expenses” so her finances are not horribly impacted by the pregnancy.

4.  “Adoptive parents parents are just liars that say whatever they have to so they can get a child”– This is a big argument against open adoption.  I will say that, of course, unfortunately this does happen, but it’s by no means the rule in open adoptions.  The decision on how much contact the families will maintain after placement is completely between them.  There are also many reasons why families stop contact and that can happen on either side.

That being said, if you are choosing this option, be completely open and honest with the expectant or first mother and your adoption worker (if you have someone helping you) about what you will do in the future, assuming all circumstances stay the same.  No one would expect you to maintain contact if a first/biological family became verbally or otherwise abusive or criminal activity started, but if you agree to a certain level of contact, always keep that agreement.  If you lose contact because of a lack of communication from the biological family (like they move and don’t tell you where), still keep up your end by giving letters/pictures/updates to your adoption attorney or worker.  Things can also change for the better and you end up with MORE contact than you originally agreed to, and that is even better.  You honestly won’t know until you meet the pregnant woman (and sometimes family) how open you could be, but always be honest about it.  We had agreed to be open with a least letters and pics every so often before we were matched, but once we met Little Man’s other mom we just developed a very open, close relationship and now text almost daily, visit once a month or more and attend each other’s family functions.  Do not feel threatened by contact.  They placed their baby for a reason and recognize your position. Don’t miss the opportunity for as much contact as you want. it will help your child feel more secure, not confused.  Kids are smarter than us and know who is who even before they can talk.

5.  “You won’t love that baby like a biological child”– I actually got this from some family members unfortunately.  Now I never had a biological child but know many families that have biological children and many with a mix of biological and adopted children.  I can’t imagine that I could love my son any more if he had grown in my body.  This argument is just ridiculous.  You will love any child you raise..biological, adopted, stepchild, or whatever other option, and you will love them all tremendously.

My best advice to you, that is easier said than done, is to not feed the adoption trolls.  Even with the most sound argument, you can’t win with then, even when you are correct.  They are full of bad information and only focus on bad experiences.  Bad experiences do happen and we all need to hear and acknowledge them, but overwhelmingly the good experiences happen so much more often.  Just delete and block them and move on with your day.  You have love in your heart to share and no one should try to take that from you.

Good luck!