There are many important aspects to adoption, but there is nothing more important than praying for God’s guidance in the decisions ahead. Ask God to provide wisdom, courage, and clarity for you and protection for the children in need.
Discussing the possibility of adoption with your spouse is a natural next step for many. It is critical to be patient and allow the necessary time for your spouse to give proper consideration. For some, the process may include a time of grieving the loss of your own fertility.
Researching and exploring adoption possibilities together will allow for many discussion opportunities where you are able to express your fears, learn to lean on each other, and share your excitement for the future.
Here are some basic adoption options to research and consider.
Domestic Infant Adoption can involve an adoption agency or sometimes only an attorney. A good place to start is getting a list of licensed child-placing agencies in your state from your state’s human services department.
Domestic infant adoption includes the possibility of being involved with the child even before he or she is born, relationships with the birth parent(s), being involved with the birth process, and bonding with the child from birth.
Risks involved include a birth parent’s change of heart. Revocation laws vary greatly state by state. There is a path to permanency that must be followed in each state, and you will likely feel vulnerable during the process.
The costs for domestic infant adoption can vary widely; again, costs are largely based on the laws in the state. Some states allow for birth-parent expenses to be paid throughout the pregnancy, but other states don’t allow for adoptive parents to pay any expenses at all.
Tips include avoiding unlicensed facilitators of adoption—especially if your state allows for unlimited birth-parent expenses to be paid. States are beginning to trend toward outlawing unlicensed facilitators, but depending on where you live, it’s possible that all the agencies you see on the internet might not truly be licensed in your state.
Older Child Adoption through Domestic Foster Care is also governed by each state individually, but, overall, you can expect a few things to be true. The majority of children in state care were removed for reasons of neglect, but some have also suffered abuse as well. The goals of the state will likely be reunification of the birth family when possible, meaning the child may not stay in your care.
The costs are very minimal financially, but there is time investment for the educational programs that prepare you to become foster and pre-adoptive parents.
Risks include caring for children who may not be in your care permanently and helping children through the trauma of losing their birth family and healing from that loss.
International Adoption focuses most often on the thousands of children in orphanages and foster care outside of the United States. Some countries belong to the Hague Convention and some do not. The Hague Convention is an international agreement to establish safeguards for intercountry adoption. It is important to determine if the country is a Hague Convention Country in order to select an appropriately accredited agency. Lists of Hague Convention Countries and appropriately accredited agencies can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en.html.
Decisions that lie ahead include selecting a country, age and gender of the child, and an agency to assist you. Risks involved include country policies and practices changing which your agency will have no authority over and parenting children who have come from institutional care, which can include difficulties in attachment and associated behaviors.
Costs for international adoption vary greatly by country and by agency.
Embryo Adoption, also known as Embryo Rescue, involves accepting embryos of another couple who created them through in vitro fertilization but no longer intend to implant or carry them to birth for various reasons.
Embryo Adoption legally speaking is not an adoption but rather is a legal transfer of property —though, of course, we as Christians would never settle for referring to a fellow human being in such terms—where the genetic family (donating) cannot accept any payment from the receiving family (adopting). Costs are associated with the social and legal work and medical procedures involved.
Risks include implanted embryos not resulting in pregnancy. Commonly, however, there is more than one embryo in the property transfer, so an additional attempt for pregnancy is possible in some cases.
Frozen embryos whose genetic family has determined not to implant them are extremely vulnerable. Many will be thawed and discarded. Their only chance at birth may be an adopting family. Frozen embryos are not merely “potential life” but rather life with potential.
God calls us all to support widows and orphans, but that certainly does not mean every person is equipped to adopt a child. You can support a child in need without becoming his or her parent. Consider sponsoring a child overseas, going on a short-term mission trip to an orphanage, or financially supporting couples who adopt children through adoption grant-giving organizations. There are many ways to become involved.
Kim Laube, B.A., is director of pregnancy counseling and adoption at Lutheran Family Service in Urbandale, Iowa. www.LFSiowa.org