When families consider adoption, they have many choices and many decisions. Families can utilize a private adoption agency, where they can provide information to be included in a profile for birth parents to review and determine if that family should be the adoptive resource for their child. Private agencies charge a fee for their services. Families can also adopt through local social service agencies were children are placed because they are dependent. In those cases, no fees are paid to these social service agencies and instead, when children are placed for foster care, and/or adoption, often subsidies are paid to the family for the care of the child placed in their home. Both options result in adoption opportunities for many families, but it is always best to have a full understanding of the process. Whether a child is placed with a family for adoption privately, or through a local social service agency, here are ten questions you should ask at the beginning:
- What fees, if any, will be associated with the placement of a child in our home?
- What educational requirements must I complete in order to be considered an adoptive resource, and are there any fees associated with that education? If so, how are they paid and by whom?
- Do I have the ability to state my preferences with regard to the type of child I wish to adopt such as the age range, race, sex, mental or physical condition, etc.?
- How long will it take before a child will be placed in my care?
- Will the initial placement be as a foster care placement, or as a pre-adoptive placement that will eventually lead to adoption?
- What is the typical length of time it takes for the adoption to be completed from the time of placement?
- What is the legal risk associated with placement of a child for adoption as it relates to termination of birth parents’ rights?
- What authority do I have to make caregiving and other decisions with regard to the child placed in my care before an adoption is finalized, and are there any restrictions with regard to what I can and cannot do with that child as far as education, medical and dental appoints, travel outside of the state, etc.?
- What can I do to be the best adoptive resource for a child being placed in my home, and what should I expect the responsibilities and time commitment to be?
- Do I need an attorney to represent my interests in the placement and adoption process, and if so, when should an attorney be engaged?
There are many other questions in addition to the ones noted above that should be asked when considering becoming an adoptive parent. Whatever method you choose for your adoption, you should initially consult with an attorney to understand the process, discuss the potential risks, evaluate the costs of your options, and understand the expectations, timing, and responsibilities from the initial placement through finalization of the adoption.