Applying to Adopt: How to Fill Out Your Adoption Application Form
After careful consideration of your family building options, you’ve decided to adopt. In the process of adopting, some organizations or agencies will have an adoption application or questionnaire that you are required to complete in order to determine your eligibility to adopt with their program. This application will highlight the different requirements and qualifications that each organization or agency will have based on your current financial situation, employment history, and family structure.
Keep in mind that each organization will potentially have different requirements based on state laws, any potential religious or nonprofit affiliations, as well as unique adoption opportunities that they handle and oversee when applying to adopt. Be honest as you apply so that those who are helping you with the process can lead you to the right resources and recommendations if you need further assistance or guidance.
Answering Questions About Your Finances
One common aspect to the application process will be your current financial situation. You might be wondering, how do you answer questions about your finances?
When applying for an adoption, it is best to be honest about your financial situation. You want to allow those helping you with an adoption to know the boundaries and potential financial limitations for your options in the adoption process so that they can guide you into the right next steps and be able to recommend financial resources, loans, grants, etc. should you need assistance.
You will be asked the amount and sources of your income. This may include salary or compensation, investments, rental income, alimony, child support, etc. You will be asked if you plan on continuing to work, will take time off from work, will stop working or will change your work schedule after you adopt and how this will affect your annual income.
If you will plan to return to work, you will be asked about new and expected childcare plans and costs. Perhaps your parents or a friend will help with childcare. If you will be using an in home childcare provider, nanny, au pair or out-of-home childcare, daycare provider or daycare center, you will need to show that you have the resources to cover such expenses.
Monthly and annual expenses
During the homestudy, there will be a thorough review of your monthly and annual expenses. The application will ask for customary amounts to show you have sufficient income to cover all current costs and discretionary income available to cover the costs of raising a child.
Mortgages, home equity, school and car loans all fall into this category. How much you owe, your payment plan, refinancing and payment history are all important.
Personal or business bankruptcy
If you had financial difficulty in the past, it is important to review what happened and how you resolved this issue. You should be prepared to discuss what you learned about yourself and how you handle finances, what you have done to prevent this from happening again and what your current financial status is.
Covering adoption costs
You may be asked how much money you have set aside for the adoption. This is important for the professionals working with you to know in order to understand your options and how to design your adoption process. This would include how much you have set aside for the entire adoption or how much you have set aside for specific portions, such as advertising and networking, travel expenses and Birth Mother expenses.
If you will be getting assistance from family or friends, it is an important part of the financial planning for the adoption process and childrearing. Some agencies will require a letter from the designated person indicating that they will provide such support.
If you are planning a fundraising/crowdfunding event for your adoption, you will be asked how much you plan on raising and when you will have that money in hand. As monies are dispersed throughout the adoption process, it is important to know when the funds will be available. As a result, it may be necessary for you to raise the money before starting the adoption process.
If you will be applying for or have already been approved for an adoption grant or loan, it is important for the professionals working with you to know this.
Your financial picture is important not only for the adoption process, but for the childrearing years ahead. The professionals assisting you will use this information in designing your adoption process. This will include outreach to find a child, Birth Parent expenses, travel expenses and more. They may also be able to provide resources for loans, grants, fundraising, as well as information on the adoption tax credit.
It is important to keep in mind that families with all levels of income adopt. There is an adoption for every budget and as you search for the right fit for you and your family, being honest on your application will only allow those assisting you to lead you into the proper resources for you to pursue this journey.
Answering Questions About Your Employment History
Another category that will be included in most adoption applications will be information on your current employment and recent employment history. Not all Adoptive Parent(s) work, some work part-time, some are self-employed, and some have taken time to pursue their education or to receive additional training. What is being assessed here is your financial stability and if you can afford to raise a child.
On the adoption application form, you will most likely be asked for your work history—where you worked and when, your title and responsibilities. You may be asked why you left that position (found new employment, job was retrenched, laid off, fired, etc.). If you had periods of unemployment, you will be asked to provide an explanation (pursuing education, caring for a child or adult, pursuing fertility treatments, etc.).
You will be asked if you plan to continue working after the adoption of a child, what your plans are for maternity/paternity leave, when you will be returning to work or if you will be a stay-at-home parent. If your work schedule (and subsequent income) will change, you will be asked to describe how you will cover the costs of raising your child.
This part of the application will go hand in hand with the financial questions regarding your income and is used to help determine whether you have the resources necessary for the adoption process and childrearing years.
Answering Questions About Previous Marriages
Whether you have never been married, are currently married or are divorced, you can apply to adopt.
Information on previous marriages (and long term relationships) is obtained to assess your capacity for social interactions and commitment. You will be asked for dates of previous marriages and the reason for the dissolution of the marriage (divorce, death of a spouse, annulment, etc.). You will be asked how you handled the dissolution of those relationships and the quality of your present relationship.
If never married, or currently unmarried, you will be asked about your social support network. You will also be asked about future plans for marriage and a spouse’s involvement in your child’s life.
If you were ever involved in a domestic violence or sexually abusive relationship, the facts and how you dealt with it are also reviewed and evaluated.
All information on the adoption application is used to assess if you are capable of long term, loving and supportive relationships.
Religious Questions or Preferences
Your beliefs, traditions, religion and rituals are an important part of who you are as a person and a family. As such, it is important that those helping you to adopt are aware of any religious requirements or restrictions in providing for your child and their daily care.
In a domestic, newborn, private placement, where it is most often the Birth Parent that chooses the Adoptive Family, some consider the religion of the Adoptive Parent(s) or the religion the child is to be raised. Other Birth Parents might not consider religion as a factor when searching for the best home for the child. Spirituality and beliefs may not need to fall within an organized religion. Check if the agency you plan on working with has a religious policy on the placement of children.
If you adopt an older child through foster care or through an international adoption, you may need to be prepared to address religion together as a family.
When speaking with your adoption professional, be honest about your religious beliefs and any practices you would not be able to follow. Ask questions about converting a child to a new religion or dual-religious observances, if that applies. Adoption professionals are there to advocate for you and make sure your placement and subsequent parenting years are positive ones. They may be able to connect you to other families who having grappled with religious issues and can provide suggestions and guidance.
Singles and couples of all religious backgrounds adopt domestically and internationally. They become families who support one another and follow or create routines, practices, traditions and rituals that reflect all members of the family unit.
Questions About Adopting Children with Special Needs
Adopting a special needs child should be done because you feel you are prepared to parent a child with specific needs.
Putting a definition on what classifies a child as being special needs is complicated. In the foster care system, it is important to note that a child with “special needs” is not the same thing as a child who requires special education. It may be a child with a medical, physical or emotional disability or where there is a familial history of medical or emotional illness, or a child who has a history of abuse or neglect, or an older child, one of a particular race or ethnic background or a sibling group.
Familial history that includes drug or alcohol exposure and/or mental illness diagnoses may lead to a child with minor to major disabilities, delays or trauma.
Older children have typically been exposed to multiple caretakers. If in an institutional setting, they may have taken on a caretaker role for the younger children. They may have been placed into care by their parent(s) or be victims of child abuse or neglect and remanded into care. They may be suspicious of adults or have difficulty following home rules and routines. They may also have knowledge or memories of Birth Parent(s) or Birth Family.
Sibling groups can be children of all ages. In the foster care system, the fact that they are “more than one child” puts them in the special needs category. Sibling groups are typically 2-6 children. Because the goal is to keep siblings together, it can be harder to find a family to take multiple children.
In some cases, a child who has a specific racial or ethnic background can qualify them as being a “special needs” child because adoptive placement might be more difficult.
No child is unadoptable and they all deserve a loving and permanent family. Finding the right family for a child with special needs may take longer—but is possible.
Keep in mind when you are preparing to adopt what type of adoption opportunities you would truly be open and research to find out type of situations you would be comfortable entering. Children with special needs may need ongoing medical treatment, academic accommodations, assistance with social relationships and emotional support. You should understand that the child may not overcome their developmental delays or never be fully mainstreamed into the school system. They may be more dependent than children their chronological age. You need to be flexible and accept your child for who he/she is.
Parents have to assume the role of caretaker, advocate and cheerleader. They, too, need information, resources, and a support network.
Consider scheduling a visit with an adoption medical specialist to explore and identify the conditions with which you feel comfortable and prepared to parent, as well as any long term accommodations or disabilities you may have to address. Locate therapists and other local professionals and academic services. Find a local support group and talk to parents of children with special needs to gain insight on day-to-day parenting and the family issues of raising a child with special needs.
Finances are another area to consider carefully. You should check if a child adopted domestically is eligible for a subsidy to help you provide for their needs before you adopt. Children adopted through the foster care system are eligible for monthly subsidies to help provide for their daily and medical care. Children adopted internationally are not eligible for subsidies. Depending on your child’s need and age, they may be entitled to receive free Early Intervention or School Based services.
After you explore the issues above, you will be able to complete any check lists or questions regarding adopting a child with special needs. Be honest with yourself and the agency or attorney with whom you are working. Don’t assume “love is enough.” Special needs must be assessed and addressed.