Couple With Adopted ChildFamilies come in many different forms. While children aren’t a required component, many couples wish to have them as parts of their families. Whether prompted by infertility or for other reasons, some decide to adopt kids and provide them with stable, loving homes. Understanding adoption and knowing about the process can help you make informed decisions about your family’s future should you choose to adopt.

Adoption by the Numbers

Around 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. Good Housekeeping’s Ashley Fogle explains that adoption became a legal process during the 1850s, but its legal and social realities have changed over the last four decades. As the stigma of single motherhood has faded, the number of unwed mothers placing their babies for adoption has also declined. Foster care and international adoptions have increased significantly, along with open and transracial domestic adoptions.

All in all, around 1 in 25 U.S. families have adopted children. People from many walks of life have adopted, including single parents, those experiencing fertility challenges, and people of color. LGBTQ couples are four to seven times more likely to adopt than their heterosexual cisgender counterparts.

How Much Does It Cost To Adopt?

Adoption expenses vary, but the Children’s Bureau offers some helpful estimates. Families working with private agencies can expect to pay between $20,000 and $45,000. Independent attorney-assisted adoptions cost between $15,000 and $40,000, and international adoptions range between $20,000 and $50,000. These expenses include legal fees, parental counseling, adoption training, and education, placement services, social work services, and even costs associated with travel and immigration.

In contrast, adopting through public agencies costs very little. Public agencies tend to place children who’ve been in the foster care or child welfare system, which can include older children, disabled kids, and sibling groups. Every year, between 100,000 and 120,000 children in the foster system are eligible for adoption. Keep in mind that federal and state financial assistance may be available to adoptive parents to defray some of the costs. Families may also qualify for tax credits, loans, grants, subsidies, or employer assistance.

The Adoption Process

Adopting a child in the United States involves several important steps. The exact process can differ depending on whether you’re pursuing domestic or international adoption. It also varies with the method you choose. There are four common ways through which you can adopt a child:

  • Federal, state, or local agencies
  • Private organizations
  • Independently assisted by adoption attorneys

Prospective parents may be subject to a wide range of legal, financial, and social guidelines. For instance, some religious-based groups will only place kids with married heterosexual couples. However, most agency requirements only focus on factors such as age, income, health history, residency, personal history, and the ability to pass a background check. 

In most cases, a prospective parent will first complete an application. Next, an extensive home study is conducted. A caseworker will visit the home and evaluate the potential parent’s ability to care for a child through examining the home itself. The caseworker also looks at details such as finances, relationships, and family background. If approved, the agency moves forward with placing a child in the parent’s home. Final legal measures must be taken to complete the process, and these can vary by jurisdiction and whether the adoption is domestic or international. Creating a Family offers an adoption resources guide with more information.

Love Defines and Makes a Family

Human families have existed for thousands of years. Whether brought together by birth, marriage, or other close relationships, people have come together to nurture, form bonds with, and rely on each other. Adoption is just one way to create or expand a family, but it provides many positive outcomes. Children enjoy loving and stable homes, while parents, siblings, and relatives find even richer experiences in their lives.  

Category: Society

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