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Adoption – Where do you start?

Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. However, the adoption process can be emotionally trying, time consuming, and frustrating. This article provides some general information about adoption alternatives and the adoption process.

What children are available for adoption?

Adoption in the 1990s is very different from what it was when most of today’s adults were growing up. Now, for instance, relatively few caucasian babies are available for adoption in comparison with the number of families who want to adopt. However, there are many children of color, older children, children with special needs, and children from other countries who need adoptive families. Adoption agencies are seeking families or single adults who can love, care for, and raise these children.

American infants

A few caucasian American babies are available for adoption, primarily through private agencies and independent adoptions. African-American infants may be available both through public and private adoption agencies.

Children with special needs

Many children with special needs are available for adoption. These children may be older (grade school through teens); have physical, emotional, or mental disabilities; or be brothers and sisters who should be adopted together. Usually, these children are in a State foster care system. Both public and private agencies place children with special needs. In addition, national, regional, and State adoption exchanges will assist in matching prospective parents with these children. The adoption exchanges and agencies usually have photo listings and descriptions of available children. In many cases, financial assistance in the form of adoption subsidies is available to help parents with the legal, medical, and living costs associated with caring for a child with special needs.

Intercountry adoption

Many children from other countries are available for adoption. China, Korea, Russia, Eastern Europe, Central and South America, India, and the Philippines are the sources of most foreign-born children adopted by Americans. There are strict immigration requirements for adopting children from other countries, as well as substantial agency fees and transportation, legal, and medical costs. Many private agencies place children from foreign countries. It is important that you choose a licensed, knowledgeable organization, for the intercountry adoption process is lengthy and complex.

As a prospective parent, you should carefully consider the emotional and social implications of adopting a child of a different nationality. In this situation, you are adopting a culture as well as a child.

Who can adopt?

The traditional eligibility requirements for adoptive parents are changing. However, for many infant adoptions, agencies will only consider couples married at least one to three years, between the ages of 25 and 40, and with stable employment income. There are a few agencies that accept applicants who are older than 40; you just have to look a little harder for them. Some agencies require that the couple have no other children and be unable to bear children. Some require that at least one parent not work outside the home for at least 6 months after the adoption.

For children with special needs, some African-American children, and some intercountry adoptions, agencies are willing to consider single applicants, those over age 40, and those with other children. The adoption of American Indian children by non- Indians is strictly limited by the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act. Agencies will discuss the various eligibility regulations and possibilities with you.

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