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When is adoption an option?

Adoption gives the legal responsibility to an individual or couple to care for and raise a child who is not born into their family. You may consider adoption when:

  • Attempts at pregnancy have failed.
  • You have physical problems or inherited conditions that prevent a successful pregnancy.
  • You want to offer a home and love to children who have no one to love or care for them.

You may not be able to adopt a newborn. There are many children from other countries, older children, and special needs children with mental, physical, or medical problems who are available for adoption. You need to decide if you are willing and able to raise a child who is:

  • an older child
  • disabled
  • from a different country
  • of a different or mixed race.

You may adopt children through a private or public agency, or through an attorney. Public adoption services are usually free. Private services charge fees that can be very expensive. Choose a licensed agency with a good reputation. Ask about their fees and ask for references. The agency will do a careful evaluation that includes interviews and medical exams. They need to find out if you have a stable family life, regular income, and good health. You will need to provide information about finances, health, marriage, and employment.

A closed adoption allows the birth mother and adoptive parents to remain unknown to each other. In an open adoption, the birth mother is allowed to know and approve of the adopting parents. She may even wish to share in the raising of the child. Open adoption is becoming much more popular. Adoption laws may vary from state to state. You need to know which types of placements are allowed by your state's laws.

What can I expect after the adoption?

Children may be upset by the move to their new home and family. At first, children will probably be excited, overwhelmed, sad, and happy all at the same time. They may behave badly or be overly quiet. They may throw tantrums or behave like they are several years younger than their actual age.

Children may grieve for the life they left. Feelings of loss may involve birth parents, friends, foods, language, or culture. Nothing feels familiar to them. Adopted children may feel unsure about how long you will really want to keep them, especially if they have spent time in foster care.

How can I help my adopted child?

  • Let your child help choose colors or furniture for his or her room.
  • Spend lots of time together giving hugs or tickles, brushing his or her hair, or reading books, even if your child does not respond at first.
  • Supervise your child's contact with other children. Don't assume your child knows how to play well with other children, especially if he or she was raised in another culture.
  • When asked, give what information you have about the birth family with sensitivity and support.
  • Give your child plenty of chances to talk about his or her life before living with you. Help your child make connections between his or her past and present by keeping a scrapbook, writing in a journal, or keeping in touch with friends.

How can I help myself?

  • Learn about adoption. Join a support group for adoptive parents.
  • As soon as the child is in your home, schedule checkups to have him or her evaluated both physically and emotionally. Be sure any history of abuse and any physical scars are documented.
  • Recognize that your child may have fears and insecurities that birth children do not. Good communication can help you understand and support your child.
  • Accept your child for who she or he is. It may take some time before your child is able to return love, or show it in the way you might expect.
  • If you have other children, be sure their needs are met.

If you are thinking about adoption, there are many community, church, and health care resources that can direct you to the proper adoption placement agency. For more information, contact the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse at 888-251-0075 or visit their Web site at http://www/

Developed by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-11-09
Last reviewed: 2006-02-20
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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