Adopting a baby or child can make a wonderful addition to your family. But first, make sure you understand your rights and legal obligations as the potential adopter.
Am I Eligible to Adopt?
The great thing about adoption is that many people qualify to be adoptive parents. Adoption agencies cannot discriminate against you due to race, sexual orientation, age, marital status, income or disability. Certain foreign or religious based adoption agencies may have requirements, however.
Whether you have raised other children or not, and no matter what your age, as long as you are physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for the responsibilities of raising a child, you stand a good chance of giving one of the thousands of orphaned children in the US a home.
If you have committed a felony, or if your spouse has, most agencies will not approve you for adoption.
Starting the Adoption Process
There are a few types of adoption agencies you can start your process with. Public agencies, funded by the government, charge less to place children. The process tends to take longer with these, since they’re federally funded, and these types of agencies place a large percent of special needs children. Requirements for adoptive parents tend to be more flexible than with private agencies.
With private agencies, you’ll pay more, but have a wider range of children to choose from, based on age, race, nationality and religion. Your paperwork tends to get processed faster (and you’re paying for that benefit).
You can adopt a child from foster care as well. These children have stayed in private homes for a few weeks to years at a time, but do not have permanent homes or adoptive parents.
Each agency has its own process. You will be required to fill out an application that asks for detailed information about you and your family. You may be required to answer questions about:
- Your family
- Your job
- Your financial situation
- Your interest in adopting a child
- Your home and city
- Medications you take
- Any medical or mental diagnoses you’ve received
You will then be interviewed by a staff member to gauge your reasons for wanting to adopt, and to determine whether adoption is right for you. The decision isn’t made at this point, but it can be good for you as well, as you will learn more about what’s required of adoptive parents.
You’ll then complete a home study, which involves your agent coming to your home to inspect where the potential child will live. You may be required to complete training to educate yourself on the process of adoption, a health exam and a financial statement. You will also need to submit reference letters from trusted friends and family who can vouch for your reliability, and speak to the fact that you would make a good adoptive parent.
Once you have been approved, you can determine what type of child you want to adopt. Are you looking for an infant, or perhaps an older child? Or maybe you want to be open to what age you adopt and just meet the children that are waiting to be adopted, and see who you connect with. Your agent can make recommendations about the children based on your interests and needs.
After you find your child, the paperwork is finalized, and you are officially a parent! The process might seem like the hard part, but the hard work is yet to come: it's parenting!
- If you have adopted a child in the last tax years, and your taxable annual income doesn’t exceed $150,000, you can file for an adoption tax credit.
- If you adopted your child from foster care you can get a flat credit of $10,000 per child.
- Note that adoption can be expensive, ranging from $10,000 to 20,000 or more.
- You can adopt a child in the US, or go overseas. There are specialists in the US that can assist with overseas adoptions.