Saturday, July 30, 2011

Adoption: The next step!

You’ve done it. You have decided to adopt! Now what? The world of adoption can be vast and never ending. Information is rarely centralized, and rules and regulations can differ from country to country and province to province, eliminating even further the available resources. So where do you go from here? How do you decide what route is for you? Here are some basic questions to help navigate you in the right direction!

1.                  What age range would you like to adopt?

If you’re looking to adopt a newborn, straight from the hospital, there are really only two options.
The first is private domestic adoption from right here in Canada. The birth parent will choose your home study from a list of other homestudy’s, and children are usually sent home straight from the hospital or within a few days.
Pros: There is something amazing about being able to parent your child from the day they are born! Attachment and bonding is usually instant, and travel is often not required. Openness with birth parents is also easier if considering visits. Finally newborns are generally healthy and without serious medical concerns.
Cons: The wait to adopt privately can be never ending. There are very few healthy newborns available for adoption, yet there are many, many adoptive parents waiting to be matched. Private adoption can also be pricey, starting at around $12,000-$15,000.
      The second option is international adoption through the USA. The most common routes are through Florida and Chicago, and run generally the same way as private domestic adoption here. Birth parents still choose your homestudy from a list of files, and babies are often available straight from the hospital at birth. The need is greater for children of minority heritage, and can actually reduce adoption costs in many cases.
Pros: With the same benefits of attachment and bonding as private domestic, it also meets a greater need, as there are many more children waiting for adoption then locally. Wait time can be minimal, averaging around one year.
Cons: International adoption through the USA can be extremely pricey. Starting at around $30,000 and often surpassing $50,000! International adoption through the USA can also have complications involved regarding birth mother’s decision to adopt, birth father’s knowledge of the child, and immigration issues.
      If a newborn is not what you are looking for than your options are endless. Children in the Ministry of Children and Families range anywhere from 2 years up until 18 years old, and children waiting for homes internationally can
vary from toddlers (12 months)  up to teenagers.

2.                  How much would you like to spend?

When it comes to adoption, expenses can vary anywhere from nothing to over $50,000. If you are looking for clean, simple, and no money required, than adopting through the Ministry of Children and Families is the way to go. There are no fees associated with the adoption, aside from a medical check and criminal record check (nominal) and possible travel costs. Social workers try to match an adoptive parent with children located locally. On the off-chance you are matched with someone a few hours away, you must pay for your travel and accommodations. Not only does Ministry adoption cost you nothing, but the ministry provides Post Adoption Assistance, until the child is 19 years old. This can cover such things as special equipment, tutors, therapy, respite and special assessments.
Pros: No cost involved and financial supports exist after the adoption. Placements are usually local and the process is relatively smooth. Adoptions cannot be reversed or contested once they are finalized.
Cons: The youngest age available is usually 2 years old. Children in the ministry also usually come with special needs such as FAS, NAS or attachment issues.
      If money is not as much of an issue or you are willing to fundraise, then international adoption could be the right path for you. Prices vary from country to country but can be anywhere from $15,000-$50,000+.
If you’ve got a small amount of money available to you for adoption, then private domestic may be your choice. Prices vary from around $12,000-$15,000. If money is less of  an issue then other countries are available, and usually average around $30,000.

3.                  What kind of issues are you open to?

Adoption in general brings several more issues to the table than natural child birth. Not only do children who have been adopted often have attachment issues, but they can grow up with identity and self esteem issues as well. If a generally healthy child is what you feel comfortable with, then private domestic or international through the USA is probably your best option. While a medical history is usually available and known from the birth parents, unknown factors can still play a role, and issues such as FAS can still be common.
If special needs are something you are prepared for, than international adoption or ministry adoptions could suit you. The primary special need found in the Ministry is FAS and NAS, which result in behavioural issues, learning disabilities, and delays. While other issues exist, they are in less frequency.
If physical disabilities are something you feel comfortable with, then international is again another great option. China has a special needs program including kids with such issues as clubbed foot, cleft palate, and missing digits.
Finally, the other major issue facing children waiting to be adopted is attachment. Children who have been raised in orphanages, gone through abuse or neglect, or are older when adopted, often face attachment issues that require intensive work to get through.

4.                  What are your qualifications?

Sometimes, choosing where to adopt from is beyond your choice. Many countries have several rules and regulations in place, limiting what options are available to you. For example, you only have to be 19 years old to adopt from Canada and the USA, but you have to be 25 years old to adopt from Jamaica, 30 years old to adopt from China or one spouse has to be 35 years old to adopt from Haiti. Other stipulations can include limits on how many children you have, require extensive stays in the country, require a minimum income, or a maximum body mass index (no overweight applicants). Qualifications vary so much from place to place that it deserves its own post! I will try to do an upcoming article on country requirements in the near future!

I hope the above information has given you something to think about, and helped in narrowing your decision of where to adopt from. In the end God will guide you in your decision, but it helps to know the requirements on your journey. And don’t forget, at the end of the day, whether you adopt from Canada or abroad, every child needs and deserves a loving home, regardless of where they come from!

Private Domestic
Age of child
2 years-19 years
12 months and older
Age of adoptive parents
19 and older
19 and older
19 and older
1 month-several years
1 month-1 year depending on openness of special needs
4 months-5 years
Special Needs
Generally healthy
Attachment issues

(The above chart is just a general summary; actual information can vary from case to case and country to country.)

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