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Everything You Need to Know About Growing Your Family Through Adoption

Posted on in Family Law

Elmhurst family law attorney for domestic and international adoptionChoosing to expand your family through adoption is a choice that greatly impacts the lives of everyone who is involved. For the child, they are given a loving home and family that they would not have otherwise. For the adoptive parents, they are able to help another person for the rest of their lives and build a unique, loving relationship with this child. Your biological children will have a new sibling to bond with, and all of your other family and friends will get to create a relationship with your new child.  

Many do not realize the large number of children who are living without a family. In Illinois alone, 17,920 children are in foster care; 3,347 of which are waiting for adoptive families. Multiply this number by 50 for an estimate of the number of kids without families across the U.S., and this does not include the children across the world living in a similar situation. Adopting a child is truly a gift from one person to another, and understanding the legal process that adoption entails is an important first step in helping another child.

Is Adoption Right for Me?

Making the decision to adopt a child is a selfless choice that should not be made lightly. Many assume that adoption is reserved for couples who are unable to conceive children, though this is far from the truth. While adoption provides a means of creating a family for couples like these, many families view adoption as an opportunity to change another person’s life in the most impactful way possible. Having the desire to help another individual is a wonderful goal, but one must be truly prepared for the emotional difficulties that adoption brings along with it before moving forward with the process.

If you are considering adopting a child, ask yourself the following questions to see if you are in the right position to do so:

  1. Can I handle not being biologically related to my child? Those with children of their own understand that you have a unique bond with your biological kids -- they are your flesh and blood. Mothers build this connection throughout their pregnancy and both the mother and father will see themselves in their kids. While you will certainly create a bond and relationship with your adopted child, you do not have the same type of connection as you would with biological children. You must accept the fact that your child has other biological parents out in the world and that they may wish to meet them or share a relationship with them as well. This can be challenging as an adoptive parent, since you are the one who raised your child. However, you must recognize that you are not your child’s only parent, which can be very difficult to do. There will also be unknowns about your child, such as their heritage and medical history. It can be challenging to accept that there will be parts about your adopted child that you may never know for certain.

  2. Am I in the right place to care for another child? Whether you are already a parent or do not yet have children of your own, you must consider your current life situation and determine if you are capable of giving your full time and energy to another person. Those who have other children may feel overwhelmed by adding another kid into the bunch. Adopted children will need extra attention to build a true relationship with them and make them feel at home, and many may not realize this until after the adoption is complete. Depending on the child’s age, they may have endured trauma from the previous homes that they lived in, which can often lead to the formation of emotional barriers by the child to avoid getting hurt again. You may feel unequipped to help a child through this traumatic past, which is an important consideration to make before signing the adoption papers.

  3. Do I have the financial resources to support a child? Those who already have children understand how expensive providing for another person can be. Adopting a child will require more money to be spent on food, clothing, medical care, extracurricular activities, and more. You should consider the stability of your job, your income level, and the amount of money that you have to spare at the end of each month. On top of these daily parenting costs, the adoption process itself costs a fairly large amount. Many families will take time to set aside money to cover the adoption costs before moving forward with the legal process.

Different Types of Adoption

Once you have determined that you are fully prepared to adopt, you will need to narrow down the type of adoptions that you are interested in, starting with the child’s location.

  1. Domestic Adoption. Are you interested in adopting a child that is from the U.S.? This may mean the child is living in your state or that he or she is somewhere else across the country. Many choose to adopt domestically because the process is often much quicker and cheaper than international adoptions. Another important factor is that you and your adopted child will speak the same language and come from the same culture. This can make the transition process easier for both the child and the parents.

    1. Adopting Through Foster Care. Children are placed in the foster care system when their biological parents are unable to care for them, and in some cases, a parent’s parental rights may be terminated. This may be due to having a truly insufficient income, difficulties with alcohol and/or drug addiction, a history of abuse, incarceration, or the parents’ deaths. Kids in foster care are under the state’s custody and are waiting to be adopted. Most children in the foster system are over the age of eight years old, and they may be in the system until they turn 18. If you are willing to adopt a child who is past the point of infancy, this may be your best option. Many children in the foster care system have experienced trauma in the past, so it is important to be prepared to take on this additional responsibility before adopting in this way. 

    2. Independent Adoption. Many parents wish to adopt an infant so that they can care for the child throughout their entire life. This will eliminate the possibility of an abusive past and the child’s ability to form familial relationships with their biological parents before being adopted. Independent adoptions can be performed through an agency or a private agreement with the child’s biological parents. Some independent adoptions occur between people who know each other, while others may happen between complete strangers. If you are interested in an independent adoption, an adoption attorney or agency can help connect you with mothers seeking adoption.

  2. International Adoption. Are you considering adopting a child from another country? Many couples are interested in international adoptions, wanting to provide a good life for a child who lives in a different country. International adoptions are a unique experience that give you the opportunity to blend two cultures together. This can bring value to your home, opening your family up to new traditions and customs. On the other hand, this can make the transition period more difficult. If your child is an infant, you will not have this same challenge, but for those adopting an older child, it can be difficult for you to communicate with a language barrier, and your home will feel very foreign to the child. Some wish to take on this challenge, while others may be wary of their ability to do so. Depending on where you are interested in adopting from, the process can be much lengthier and more costly. Some countries have added harsher restrictions for international adoptions, making it nearly impossible to adopt. The adoption process is led by the child’s home country, and you must abide by their regulations. It is especially important to work with an adoption attorney if you decide to pursue an international adoption. They will be well-versed in the other country’s adoption process and can help the process go much more smoothly.

  3. Adopting a Family Member. Adoptions are not solely reserved for strangers. In some instances, you may wish to adopt a family member of your own. Many step-parents will choose to adopt their step-child if the child’s other biological parent is deceased or absent. This can create a greater connection between the step-parent and step-child and ensure that the child is cared for if their biological parent passes away. Grandparents may also choose to adopt their grandchild if the situation presents itself. If the child’s parents have died or they are incapable of taking care of them, grandparents or other relatives can petition to adopt the child to keep them out of the foster care system. 

Connection to the Birth Family

Now that you have selected the way in which you will adopt your child, you must consider the terms of your future adoption. Do you want your child to maintain a relationship with their biological parents, or will their identities remain undisclosed? An open adoption gives the child the capability to be in touch with their biological parents if they wish to do so. This can vary greatly, from weekly chats or visits to simply knowing their parents’ names with the potential of reaching out later in life. A closed adoption keeps the identities of your child’s biological parents undisclosed so that the child cannot contact them in the future.

Both open and closed adoptions have their benefits and drawbacks. Open adoptions give the child the choice to reconnect with their biological parents if they wish to do so. Many adopted kids will wonder about their biological parents. What are they like? What does my family history include? Why was I put up for adoption? Leaving these questions unanswered can leave a gaping hole in the child’s life and understanding of who they are. However, open adoptions can also present the possibility that your child will get hurt. If their biological parents continue to come into their life unannounced and without true intentions, this can be difficult for the child to handle. Alternatively, a closed adoption can lock away any potential dangers that the biological parents may impart. This is most common in international adoptions--because of the distance--and when the biological parents have an abusive or toxic past. A closed adoption can make the adoptive parents feel more secure and keep the child safe, but it can also leave the child forever wondering about their past.

Contact an Elmhurst Adoption Attorney

Adoption is a complex process that requires parents to reflect on their life desires and intentions and their capability to support an adopted child. Before making a final decision on what type of adoption you would like to pursue, it is advisable to speak with an adoption lawyer. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, our attorneys have experience in all types of adoptions, and we can help you determine which is best for you and your family. Our firm will guide you through each step to help your child finally get the loving family that they deserve. For more information on adoption, contact our DuPage County adoption lawyers at 312-605-4041 today.

Sources:

https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/illinois

https://www.adoptionchoicesofkansasmissouri.com/is-adoption-right-for-you-5-questions-to-ask-yourself/

https://www.adopt.org/types-adoptions

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