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  • AAPA

Start Here: Pre-Adoption Considerations

Adoption of a child can be an enormously meaningful, enriching experience. It is also, however, an arduous, often confusing and bewildering process that takes enormous commitment and determination. The pre placement stage is a ‘paperwork pregnancy.’ Your team is there to help you but YOU are your own case manager. Don’t depend on anyone else to give you all the information you need to make rational, informed decisions. It is your responsibility to know everything possible about the entire process. And be sure that you are in it for the “long-haul”, and prepared to deal with contingencies, unexpected events and other unknowns. The goals is helping a child have a loving forever family. With this end in mind the hard work truly is worth it. Here are 12 pre-adoption consideration that AAPA strongly encourages you to consider, as well as an informative article about adopting while living abroad: Adoption Resources for Americans Living Abroad-Adoption Advocate



Before starting on this life- changing journey, here are a few of the issues to consider:

  1. Spend time determining your motivation for adoption, your adoption goals, and making sure you have realistic expectations of what adoption means, and the process. (i.e.; infertility, desire to care for an orphan, expand your family, etc.)

  2. Decide what type of adoption best suits your family (infant or older child, sibling group, US domestic or international, country of adoption, etc.).

  3. Is everyone in the family onboard with adoption? It is important that everyone is committed to making the adoption happen, but also understand everyone may not be at the same level at the same time.

  4. Before committing to a certain country or type of adoption, become very knowledgeable and informed about the special considerations for Americans living abroad (i.e., Hague Convention).

  5. Are you sufficiently knowledgeable and willing to accept the risks and unknowns in adoption? In any kind of adoption, flexibility, patience, and the ability to adapt to changes is crucial. (i.e.; country changes, medical and developmental conditions of the children, changes in country, USCIS or other immigration changes, travel involved, etc.).

  6. Can we afford the time and costs associated with an adoption? Determine your adoption budget, and be informed about ALL the costs involved before you move ahead. Have realistic expectations of the costs and the time involved in completing the adoption. These can vary considerably. (In most cases, the final costs of an adoption will be more than you project, and will take longer to complete than you originally anticipate, for a variety of possible reasons and depending on the type of adoption).

  7. Research and learn in great detail how the adoption process works, and all the steps involved, in relation to the type of adoption you intend to pursue (adoption, Kafala, immigration, etc). The process differs depending on type of adoption, country, etc. But always, there is pre-adoption, adoption, and post-adoption. There are processes, fees and time involved in all 3 components.

  8. Selecting your adoption agency is a critical decision. Research agencies carefully (there are many ways to find out more about them), talk to them by phone and through email, and make sure the communication with them is prompt, responsive and reliable. Talk to references you obtain from a variety of sources. Does the agency have experience working with Americans abroad, and know the special issues involved? It is important (and your right) to feel confident and trusting of your agency.

  9. If you are adopting internationally, it is often a good idea to consider agencies that have more than one viable program. Intercountry adoption is risky and subject to change. If your country of choice closes or starts having significant problems, you may decide to switch to another country. Having an agency that can transfer you will ensure minimal disruption and avoid having to start over with another agency.

  10. The home study is one of the most important steps in your adoption, as it approves you as adoptive parents. Your agency, state courts, and the country of adoption will not place a child with you until you are approved by a competent home study preparer who is authorized to make these assessments and provide a recommendation, as stated in your home study. Neither will USCIS grant authorization for you to immigrate your adopted child to the US, without approving your home study and agreeing with the recommendation made in the HS.

  11. The home study process is more than just a report, it is a process. Select a HS preparer the same way you select your placement agency: find a competent, experienced and authorized HS provider, who will guide you through not only the HS, but through the entire adoption process, and who will advocate for you. Do they explain immigration and discuss this with you? Will your home study provider provide reliable post placement services (especially important for US domestic adoption, when several reports are needed in a short period of time)? What is their level of experience? Have they been approved by your agency? All home study providers are not the same! If you are looking to reduce expenses and do it with your home study provider, you may be taking a huge risk that could jeopardize the entire adoption.

  12. Adoption is a ‘team effort’ so build your team accordingly, with experienced, competent professionals who will advocate for you. Nobody adopts alone or accidentally adopts.

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