The process of adopting a child can be daunting, expensive and even invasive, but the realization of the dream of holding your child will make it all worthwhile. The first step involves understanding what the adoption process entails. The laws and requirements vary depending on the state or province where you plan to adopt, so it is important to have an adoption attorney to guide you through the process.
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- Home Study – The first stage of the adoption process involves compiling information about your finances, employment history, family life, thoughts about parenting and medical history. You will also need a criminal background check and a Social Services child abuse and neglect check. A home study must be completed by a licensed agency. This usually requires three interviews with you at your home as well as interviews of neighbors and friends. The agency must write a report to show you are fit and financially capable to care for a child. The average home study can take as long as a year. Having an attorney review your study can be a good safeguard.
- Adoption Profile – An adopting family profile allows birth mothers to review multiple profiles to find adoptive parents who meet their particular requirements. A good adoption attorney may know ways to help make your profile stand out. For example, the profile should discuss the schools in the area, area attractions for children, anything unique to that family, and possibly a letter written directly to that potential birthmother to express the adopting parents’ dreams for that child.
- Foreign Adoptions – The first step in international adoption is the application for an adoption visa. The application process can and should be done before you are matched with a child. You must also consider the time and expense of travel to the foreign country. Many foreign adoptions require two trips to the foreign country, with stays lasting as long as a month each. It can be difficult for some adopting parents to arrange to be away from home and work for such extended periods. An adoption attorney may be able to warn you about risks of countries you are considering.
- Cost – Many states allow adopting families to pay the birth mother’s expenses during her pregnancy, but some states have limits on the amount that can be paid. For example, Florida limits the payment to $3,500. Other states, such as Utah, have no limits; so adopting parents can be expected to pay thousands of dollars for all of the birth mother’s living expenses and needs during the pregnancy and even following the birth while the birth mother is recuperating. An attorney who handles adoptions can point out these laws and requirements.
- Risks – An adoption attorney can help you navigate the system. Beware of unscrupulous adoption agencies that seek to defraud couples out of thousands of dollars with promises of adoption. In the case of a newborn adoption, there is always the risk that a birth mother will change her mind at or just after the birth. An adoption attorney can serve as a connection to the birth mother, and can ask important questions that the adopting parents may not be comfortable asking.
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