If starting or expanding your family means looking to adopt a baby, you are in considerable company. About 135,000 children are adopted each year, with over 18,000 of those adoptions being infant adoptions. The National Council for Adoption estimates that over 100 million Americans have been touched in some way by adoption; either through knowing someone who was adopted or someone who has gone through the adoption process as a birth parent or adoptive parent.
While it takes a loving heart and giving soul to adopt a baby, it also requires a personal commitment and a strong foundation to prepare for the arrival of a new family member. Here are seven things to consider before the paperwork is done and the door opens on a new life for everyone:
A few sessions with a certified financial planner helps with long-term considerations like investing, retirement funding, buying a home and managing major financial life changes in addition to building a family. Many banking institutions offer seminars and online help with budgeting, college funding, retirement planning and starting an emergency fund.
Do you have enough space for a separate bedroom, or will there be siblings sharing a room? Additional furniture, whether new, bought online, at a resale shop, or obtained on a neighborhood exchange site, should be inspected for safety and should be of sufficient size to grow with your baby.
Will your child go to public or private school? Have you researched the schools in your neighborhood, and does the level of academic performance, range of coursework, test scores and diversity combine to ensure the best education possible? Can you afford private school over public education, or are you willing to move to a different neighborhood just for the schools?
It has been said more than a few times that it takes a village to raise a child and that absolutely includes your support system for the times when illness, work, and emergencies require your time away from your child. Family, friends, reliable babysitters or nannies, a significant other, and your coworkers are those who can step in and provide time for your work deadlines, fix meals, clean your house, watch your child while you shop, and accompany you on vacations and work trips so you are not juggling both family and the fine details of your destination alone. Your support system will be vital in the development and raising of a child.
Dedicated Time Without Distractions
Do you have the patience to sit and do the math homework and help with science projects? Is your work schedule flexible enough to allow time off for attendance at dance recitals, soccer games, and school plays? Baby and me time needs to be quality time, without digital interruptions, phone calls, or answering “just this last email.” These are times that are important in the development of the child, but also memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
Handling THOSE Questions
When people ask about your baby, and want to know if you adopted, can you handle the inevitable conversation? What do you say when nosy relatives ask, “Why didn’t you have your own kids?” And as your baby grows and asks, “Where did I come from?” will you have the full answer ready? Of course, in an open adoption, your child may actually still have a relationship with his or her birth parents, but whether you have an open or semi-open adoption, we always encourage openness and transparency with your child.
A Commitment for a Lifetime
Once you’re “on,” there’s no punching out on the parental time clock. This is a responsibility for life. It does not end when the child turns 18, goes to college, gets married, or even when your child has children of his or her own. You’re a parent forever. You won’t change diapers, kiss boo-boos, monitor their dates or enforce curfew forever, but your baby will always be your child, and will still look up to you for advice and guidance as an adult. Are you prepared for a lifelong commitment, through the good and bad times?
If after all this, you’re convinced that it’s time to grow your family through adoption, we encourage you to start the process today. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will get to take your little bundle of joy home! Start here!