Married couples considering adoption have a lot of things to think about and choices to make before diving into the process. While it is important to be very excited about this new stage of your life, it is also important to stay practical and go into the process well- prepared and informed. While married couples are the most common group to adopt, and adoption professionals tend to give them precedence in adopting, there are still many other factors that are balanced during the screening process.
The process of adoption can seem a bit mysterious to the outsider, and so it is not uncommon for couples to be surprised about the rigorous nature of the adoption screening. In order to demystify the process for you, we have listed some things you should consider as you begin to think about adoption. None of these are obviously meant to discourage you or diminish your excitement, but, rather, these tips are meant to save you a lot of surprise, work, and stress that could be felt before you even begin the process:
1. Think about any changes you might have to make to your living space.
Married couple's living space
A vital part of the adoption screening process is the home study or, sometimes called, the family study. The home study involves a lot of components that are designed to determine whether you are emotionally and physically prepared to have a child in your home.
An important part of the “physical” aspect is a home inspection to ensure that the child can live safely and comfortably in the home. Especially if you are preparing for a newborn, the home study agency will check your house to see if it is sufficiently childproofed and free of anything that may pose a threat to a small child.
Other than the dangerous bits, however, you should also begin settin up your house in anticipation of the new child. This includes prepping the child’s room, accommodating the right family transportation, and any other home necessity. This will show the home study agency that you are serious about adopting and have thought about how a child will affect your day­to­day life. Much of the adoption screening process for adoptive couples revolves around testing the extent to which the couple has really given in­depth thought to adopting, and preparing your home is a fairly easy and yet very important way to demonstrate this.
2. Make sure you are financially prepared.
Financial preparedness
It is usually apparent to couples that they have to be financially stable in order to have a child, adopted or not. However, many people don’t realize just how significant those costs can be. Adopting a child can cost around $40,000, and a child will only keep tugging at your wallet once he or she is adopted due to every day child­bearing expenses. These facts are a reality that couples should still be aware of as they discuss adoption possibilities.
3. Be prepared to have open and honest conversations about your relationship.
Couple having open and honest conversation about their relationship
This is crucial during two stages: first, when discussing adoption prior to entering the screening process, and secondly, during the interviews that consist the screening process.
During the first stage, the two of you must absolutely be on the same page, 100%. It is of course understandable for one or both people to have some fears and apprehensions about the process, but it is also essential to voice those fears and not just push them aside. Being mentally and physically together in the adoption decision is vital.
One thing you must definitely know is that having a baby will not solve any marital issues you may have. This sounds harsh, but is in fact a predominating myth around couples, regardless of their situation. A child will not magically solve any issues or tensions between the two of you, and it is unfair to put that kind of a burden on a child.
Even if you don’t believe this, it is vital that you do not proceed with adoption until you and your partner are in the same emotional place regarding adoption.
The second component of these conversations will happen during the process itself. Couples will be interviewed about their relationship and dynamics, typically together and separately. This is part of why it is so important to be on the same page. Sometimes adoption professionals will even give you “tests” in order to stimulate conversation about your relationship and determine how the two of you relate to one another.
You want the strength of your relationship to hold up under these kinds of evaluations. Therefore, work out all of your problems before you begin the adoption process, which will ensure both of you maintain a positive outlook through the intense process.
4. Don’t forget the needs and wants of the birth parents.
Birth parent with child
While many couples tend to fixate on the child they are going to receive, the relationship that you are going to have with the birth parents is usually not as big of a consideration.
Before you go into the process, the two of you should decide whether you want an open adoption. In an open adoption, one or both of the birth parents has contact with you and possibly the child. This contact can range from some messages once or twice a year to an active involvement in the child’s life. This is one of the bigger decisions you will have to make when you go to adopt, and the decision sometimes evolves around the circumstances of the child’s adoption. It is best to have that discussion as early as possible.
It is very important to keep the feelings of the birth parents in mind as you proceed. You might be very different people, and it might take some time to establish familiarity and comfort with them, but make sure to keep an open mind, pass no judgments, and remember that they are giving you the greatest gift you will ever receive.
Remember, too, that they are not trying to undermine your relationship with your child by wanting an open adoption. They simply want to be somehow involved in their child’s life. Have the same kind of open and honest conversations with them as you have had among yourselves.
5. Remember that both of your lives will be under a great deal of scrutiny.
Birth parents sitting on the beach
The adoption professional will want to know everything about the two of you. And that really means everything. Every document pertaining to your birth and marriage (where applicable), your employment records, evidence of community involvement, income information, extended family trees, education records, information about your parent, and, of course, criminal history records... every documentable aspect of your life will be requested of you during this process.
The amount of vulnerability can sometimes feel overwhelming. And it will likely go on for a while, too: while it varies from differing adoption professionals, the adoption process tends to take around six months and could very well take much longer. Just remember to keep “your eyes on the prize,” for all intents and purposes, and keep the reason you’re doing all of this fresh in your mind.
You will be able to go through this process much more effectively if you have taken the listed precautions, and if you are able to enter the process with an open mind and a strong, healthy relationship. Constantly support each other, and you may even find that your relationship has grown by remaining loving and compassionate through this extensive process.