Adopting a child is a monumental decision for you and your family and it’s just the start of a long journey to bringing home your new family member. To make the process as smooth as possible, it’s vital to carefully choose your adoption team and understand the roles they’ll play.
When forming your adoption team, make sure that you fill the spots with individuals who support your wants and needs. Know ahead of time what kind of adoption you’re interested in, and be honest with yourself about your limitations. Think through race and culture differences, gender, special needs, and whether you want an open or closed adoption. Set your convictions on those issues and stick to them. It’s in the best interest of your family and your child-to-be. Once you’ve made those decisions, choose players that will work within the parameters you’ve set.
Here are some of the players that you’ll need to get in place as early in the process as possible:
Adoption Agency or Attorney – Perhaps the most important key player in the adoption process is the agency or attorney you choose to help you navigate the steps of adopting. Agencies and attorneys operate basically the same, with a few key differences, the main one being the manner in which a child is located. Expecting mothers considering adoption get in touch with agencies directly, while attorneys help adoptive families advertise in order to get in touch with birth mothers. Also, know your state laws regarding adoption, as some states have restrictions on both.
Aside from the differences, both an agency or an attorney will help you prepare the extensive paperwork and legal requirements for a fee. You’ll find a large range of fees, some exceeding $40,000, so it’s important to know your budget ahead of time. Once hired, they’ll also help you prepare for your home study and connect you with the next player, the social worker.
Social Worker – This person’s main objective is to operate in the best interests of the child being adopted. However, they can also become a major advocate for the adoptive family and help you get through the home study process. Communicate early and often with your social worker to develop a comfortable relationship that will benefit your family throughout the entire adoption process.
Birth Parents – Depending on if you have an open, semi-open, or closed adoption, the birth parents of your child could play a long role in your child’s life. Make sure you ask the tough questions up front about their background and wishes for the future to avoid conflict or miscommunication. Some adoptive families maintain regular contact with the birth mother while others choose to let the child make that decision later in life. Either way, there’s a good chance that your child’s biological mother will be a part of your life for years to come.
Other Adoptive Parents – These are the people who have been there before and can answer any questions you may have. Adoptive parents often form a close network among other families to exchange stories, give advice and share contacts. Your agency or local church is a good place to get connected with other adoptive families.
Family and Friends – The adoption process can be long and tough to handle, at times. It’s important to surround yourself with family and friends for emotional strength. Make sure these people support your decision to adopt and are willing to act as a sounding board for you throughout the journey.
A strong adoption team will make all the difference on the journey that you’re about to begin and a team is only as strong as its weakest player. Do your due diligence on the front-end so you can move forward knowing that you have a firm foundation to build on.
How have you built your adoption team? Share your story with us in the comment section below.