After Infertility, Adoption Tips for Your Path to Parenthood
For many couples with infertility, adoption is a desirable family-building choice. The following infertility adoption tips can help you navigate the world of adoption after infertility.
Tip# 1: Deciding on a domestic or foreign adoption
One of the choices you will make is choosing to adopt a child from the country you live in, or another country. If you decide on a foreign adoption, you have to follow the laws of that country. You will also need to obtain a U.S. visa for the child.
If you choose a domestic adoption, the laws of your state will apply on most issues. However, there may be some points where the laws of the birth parents apply, if they are out of state.
Most states have waiting periods after the birth of the baby for consent to be given to the adoption. The waiting periods can range from 48 hours to 10 days. Some states allow birth parents a short time after signing the agreement in which to change their minds. Other states make the decision irrevocable at the time of signing. Because the legalities of the process can get pretty complicated, it is a good idea to have your own legal counsel to offer guidance.
When choosing a domestic adoption, your next decision will be whether you want to go through an agency or do an independent adoption.
Tip #2: Choosing an agency or independent adoption
With an independent adoption, you will learn about potential birth parents through advertisements or via your own search. You can also go through an intermediary such as an attorney or a facilitator, which may or may not be allowed in the state you live.
It is advisable to consult an attorney to help you find legal ways to meet birth parents as well as help you be in compliance with applicable laws.
If you choose to go through an adoption agency, there is an intermediary to help you with child placement. But first you will have to decide between a private or public agency.
Tip #3: Selecting a private or public adoption
The main difference between a private agency and a public one is the way the parental rights of the child have been terminated.
In a public agency, the termination is usually involuntary. These adoptions typically involve children who have been placed in foster care due to neglect, abuse or another condition which required the parental rights of their parents to be taken away. These agencies are governmental departments of social services and the children placed in these type adoptions are typically older in age. These adoptions are typically free or only a nominal fee.
If you choose to go through a private agency for the adoption, that agency will be licensed by the state where it operates and will be required to follow the laws of that state. Private agencies can engage in local and/ or international adoptions.
Agencies usually have attorneys on staff. However, these attorneys represent the agency, not you or the birth parents. It is in your best interest to have your own counsel during this process.
These agencies will also help the birth parents to choose adoptive parents by sharing profiles of the couples. The agency will also help to set the guidelines for how much contact is desired between the adoptive and birth parents.
When the child is born or is ready to be handed over, the birth parents will give consent over to the agency and the agency will terminate the parental rights. Even though the agency is given custody of the child initially, the child will be placed in the care of the adoptive parents.
After the allotted amount of time for the post-adoption supervision has passed, the agency will issue its consent to you and you will then file the adoption petition in court. The fees for private agencies can range from $5,000 to $30,000. It is important to discuss with the agency all that is included in that fee.
Tip #4: Understanding the application process
Once you have decided on the type of adoption, you will be required to fill out a lengthy application. If you decide to go through an agency, you may be invited to attend an orientation or come in for an informational meeting. Once the agency reviews your application, they will decide whether or not to accept you as a client.
If you are chosen to be their client, you will then have to undergo a “home study”. These are required by law to ensure that a child will be placed in a stable, loving environment. The home study will be a detailed look into your relationship with your partner, your home life and your environment.
You and your partner may be asked to have physical exams as well as a background check. It also serves as a time to prepare you for parenthood and all the challenges associated with adopted children.
Some agencies perform some meetings in a group setting so that you can get to know other parents going through the same process. This group setting can then serve as a support group. It typically takes about 3 to 4 months to complete this step.
Tip #5: How to play the waiting game
Once the home study and application process is complete, you wait. Depending on the type of child you wish to adopt, your wait may be long. Newborns typically require the longest waiting period. The wait for an infant can be as long as five years. And because the adoptive parents choose you, there is no way of predicting how long that wait will be.
International adoptions can be a bit more predictable but still take about a year to finalize.
Tip #6: Closing the deal
Each state has a mandated length of time that must pass until the adoption process is finalized. The child will live in your home during this time and a social worker will perform periodic checks to make sure everything is going smoothly. The length varies by state but is typically about 6 months. The agency then writes a letter of approval for the court and then you can petition for adoption.
With an international adoption, the adoption is usually finalized before you take the child out of the country but you will still need to obtain a U.S. visa for the child.
After infertility, adoption is a terrific family-building option
As you look past infertility, adoption becomes a positive step. As you can see, the adoption process is confusing and lengthy. It can also be expensive and very stressful. Consulting an attorney can help to guide you through the maze and stay in compliance with your state laws. If you need someone to talk to about your fears as you start the adoption journey, contact a professional counselor.
- RESOLVE.org: The National Infertility Association: Adoption.
- American Pregnancy Association: The Adoption Process.