Raymond W. Godwin
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4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out if Adoption is Right for You

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First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes the baby in the baby carriage. Or so the old song says. But for some, getting to that baby in the baby carriage is the hardest part. More and more couples are turning to adoption to help their family grow. But before heading down this path, you may be wondering if adoption is right for you. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before making this big commitment:

1. Is my spouse on the same page? Many times, one person is excited and ready to leap into adoption, while their spouse may be more hesitant and still needs some time to make up their mind. If your spouse is not fully committed to pursuing adoption, then it may not be the right time. That doesn't mean that they will never come around, but for now, take the opportunity to save up funds, take some adoption-related courses, and help your partner see why you feel adoption is right for you. Many adoptive couples go through this with one partner more eager to start the journey than the other. If they're willing, find out if there are any groups in your community that offer informational classes. Many people are more drawn to adoption once they have all the facts in front of them.

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2. Am I prepared to raise a child? It's very easy to get caught up in the adoption process and to focus only on the part where you bring a child home. But then what? Are you prepared to deal with late night feedings? Do you have a room for them? How will you handle misbehavior? Are you prepared to answer their questions about their adoption? How will you handle their biological family relationships? It's a great idea to talk to adoptive families to get a big-picture look at what it means to be adoptive parents. Join a local support group or find a national one online. There are adoption groups for special needs families, transracial families, international groups, foster care groups, and many more. If you're unable to meet a group in person, there are some great adoption groups on Facebook, including Adoption Care + Connecting Families & Living Through Adoption, Adoption Resource Group, and Domestic Adoption Support Group. These groups can also point you to more specific groups if you decide which type of adoption you are interested in pursuing.

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3. What am I willing to accept in the placement of a child? There are many different types of adoptions-domestic, foster care, international. There are also many things to consider: Can you accept a special needs child? Do you have a preference in what your child's race or sex is? What kind of drug exposure will you consider? Are you willing to adopt a FAC (fetal alcohol syndrome) baby? A lot of research has been made available to adoptive families now that can help you determine the factors that you are willing to accept when adopting. A lot of these questions can be asked in one of the aforementioned groups, or you can check out articles on sites such as Adoption.com and Adoptioncouncil.org to find the latest information on these topics. Also, we always recommend you talk to your pediatrician. They have a lot more hands-on experience and can help you adopt with knowledge and wisdom on what to expect. You might actually be surprised to find that there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the long-term affects of drug exposure, and you might discover that these side effects are not as severe as you might think.

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4. What avenue should I take for adoption? There are many different ways to adopt. Some people choose to adopt through the state foster care system because it is the most affordable. However, the main purpose of foster care is reunification with the biological family, so the process could take years before you are actually able to adopt. Also, the majority of children are older; so, if you're interested in adopting an infant, this may not be the right option for you. International adoption is another choice, but the wait list is several years long for many countries and can be quite expensive-especially when you consider travel expenses. Domestic adoptions are on the rise, but even then, you have to decide whether you are going to work with an agency or an attorney (some of which depends on your state). Do your research, so you know which path is right for you. There is no right or wrong way to adopt, but talking to other adoptive parents may help you figure out which road you want to travel down. Are there other adoptive families in your church? Consider inviting them over for supper one night and listen to their advice from their own experiences. The best advice you will receive is from those who have gone before you, and you'll find that most adoptive families are happy to talk to a new prospective adoptive family as well.

Adoption can feel like an overwhelming process when you first start out, but asking yourself these key questions, doing your research, and reaching out for support from the adoption community can help you decide if this is the way you want to grow your family.

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