The Adoption Option
How To Adopt
There are generally two places to look to adopt a child: domestically (adopting an infant or older child within the United States) and internationally (adopting a child from another country). Within the domestic realm, more than 114,000 children are in the foster care system waiting to be adopted, and many of these are older children who have faced abuse, neglect or abandonment.
The type of adoption you prefer is a very personal choice: Options include an adoption agency, which can be public or private and for- or non-profit; an adoption attorney, who handles private or independent adoptions; or an adoption facilitator, who’s more like a matchmaker between birthparents and prospective adoptive parents.
“There’s no one type of adoption which is right for everyone,” says Mark McDermott, an adoption attorney and adoptive parent in Washington DC. Each person needs to make his or her own educated choice.”
Adoption Costs, Time and Effort
Ask anyone who has successfully adopted, and he or she will tell you that it can be one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love. It can be an expensive journey, depending on which type of adoption you choose, varying from a few thousand dollars to more than $35,000 for travel, the birthmother’s expenses, state requirements, international fees, lawyer fees and more.
Patience is key: The average time it takes for someone to adopt a child—either internationally or domestically is over a year. “The family needs to keep focused on the fact that this is a forever family and that the right child who will flourish and grow in their family is the child that should be placed with them,” says Joyce Maguire Pavao, founder and CEO of the Center for Family Connections, Adoption Resource Center and Family Connections Training Institute, all based in Cambridge, MA.
Of course, things may get drawn out even longer for a variety of reasons. Hope and Jay discovered this when they began the adoption process of the brothers, ages two and three, who had been abandoned at a police station.
The couple worked with the Massachusetts’ Department of Social Services through a very lengthy transition and adoption process, including an extended 10 weeks of visits and outings before the boys moved in and another 18 months before the adoptions were finalized. “Our guys had a lot of needs, and it just took a lot longer than normal,” says Hope, who is an assistant professor of social work at Wheelock College in Boston.