People looking to adopt children often have many questions that must be addressed before they enter into the process. For some, they are a matter of curiosity, while others have a strong feeling on it that must be addressed before the process can continue. The most common areas of questions and misconceptions regarding adopting children are regarding legal representation, open adoption and the eligibility of single people to adopt.
Legal representation is important for those planning to adopt. While some people may think they do not need it or cannot reasonably afford additional expenses, it is important that all laws are followed. Having a knowledgeable attorney to explain the rules and guidelines that must be followed can prevent heartache and legal red tape in the long run. Laws vary state by state, and with domestic versus international adoption. Although couples and singles looking to adopt a child are sometimes willing to agree to things proposed by the birth mother, sometimes the law does not allow this. Some states have restrictions on advertising, while others have specific limitations on what the adoptive parents can and cannot pay for during and after the pregnancy.
Another issue that often creates many questions and confusion during the adoption process is an open adoption. Open adoptions have boundaries for both the birth and adoptive parents. The roles of all parties should be discussed and understood before any agreement is made. It is not for everyone who wishes to adopt or who wants to place their child with an adoptive family, but it works for many, once it is well understood. One common misconception is that a birth parent has legal authority over the child and full access at all times. In reality, this relationship is based on a spirit of cooperation and goodwill, not on authority. The birth mother and father have roles as a “special adult friend,” not one who can make important and lasting decisions over a child’s future. This role is reserved for adoptive parents. The birth parent does not have unfettered access to the child, but a certain emotional distance. Those with questions regarding the boundaries should speak with a professional adoption agency to explore the answers.
Couples versus Singles
Many people who are not married wish to adopt children. Over the past 20 years, the number of single adoptive parents has risen significantly. Depending on the type of adoption involved, single people are now able to do so; whereas, several decades ago, it was frowned upon or even legally prohibited. About ¼ of special needs adoptions are undertaken by single adults. While certain agencies may not be comfortable with single-parents adopting, others welcome them.