In honor of National Adoption Month, we’re bringing you a series this week on adoption and fostering. We hope “A Road to Adoption” provides helpful information for those considering the journey and those who’ve already started!
I’m not an adoptive parent, or an adopted person, but adoption is something that is very close to my heart. As an International Adoption Caseworker, my daily life is filled with helping families adopt children from China and I couldn’t be luckier to have been able to do this for the past 5 years.
Two of my favorite parts of being a caseworker include speaking with parents who are interested in my agency’s China program as well as advocating for specific children who need families. Helping parents find and bring home their child is amazing.
And on the flip side, finding a family for a child who is orphaned and alone is LIFE-CHANGING!
Since November is Adoption Awareness Month, I figured the most helpful information I could share is where to begin if you are thinking about adopting. Here are 5 tips for getting started in the adoption process!
Ready to Adopt? Here’s How to Get Started!
1. Consider carefully if adoption is something that you want to pursue as a family.
Many times, one spouse is the leader in presenting the idea of adoption, but it is crucial that both parents are on the same page when deciding to move forward with the plans! Adopting is not for the faint of heart and spousal support is critical. Consider (if appropriate and applicable) the thoughts and concerns of any children currently in the home as well.
2. Talk with other adoptive parents about their experiences, fears, and joys throughout the adoption process.
Fellow adoptive parents provide encouragement and support from a “been-there-done-that” perspective that sometimes no one else can offer! Remember though that everyone’s process is different and the specifics of your adoption will likely not look exactly the same.
3. Think about what type of adoption program might best suit your family.
Adoption happens many different ways – domestically, internationally, through the foster care system, or by using a lawyer or an agency, etc… starting at the beginning can be very overwhelming. Many agencies with multiple program options will have a staff member who can help guide you to the right program for your family. Sometimes eligibility guidelines can determine what programs you are able to adopt through, or maybe finances are a big factor. The important thing is to find a program that fits.
4. Research agencies.
Once you have an idea of what type of adoption program you would like to pursue, do some research on agencies that have these programs. If you know other adoptive parents, ask them what they thought about the agency that they used. Call and talk to people who know and run the program you are considering. These are the people that you will be working intimately with for a significant amount of time – it is important to feel good about working together!
5. Jump in 110%.
You’ve made the decision to adopt, picked your program and signed with an agency – now is the time to put all your efforts in to the adoption journey. Know that your child is out there and that you will bring them home one day. Be excited and optimistic… and realistic. The process takes time and a lot of emotion. Build your support network, scout out local resources for your new child and learn as much about adoption that you can while you go through the process. The rewards on the other side are immense!
People come to adoption from all kinds of places. For me, becoming an adoption caseworker is something that I seemingly stumbled into, but I have always been so grateful that I did. This November, consider what you can do to promote adoption awareness!
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April is an Asia Program Caseworker for Gladney Center for Adoption, a Fort Worth, TX based non-profit adoption agency. She is based out of Gladney’s NYC office and lives in lower Manhattan with her husband and the cutest one year old baby boy in the world (not a biased opinion at all). April loves to read, watch cooking shows, and run along the Hudson River. You can learn more about Gladney’s Asia programs at www.asiawaitingchild.wordpress.com.