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Where Do I Begin?

by: Justin Heimer

Adoption Arkansas,  (479) 599-8677, 1 E. Center Street, Suite 331, Fayetteville, AR, www.myadoptionarkansas.com

That is the question I get several times each week.  People call and say they want to adopt a child, but don’t know where to begin, or even how it works.  Ever wonder the same thing?  Usually, potential clients will start with an inquiry through my website (www.myadoptionarkansas.com) where they tell me they think they are ready to begin, but have become confused by the research they have done.  There are so many acronyms and nuances in adoption that many people who look into it quickly become overwhelmed.

I always discuss adoption through the “five roads” analogy.  You see, outside of stepparent adoption, there are five different paths, or roads, that families can walk down that could lead them to adoption.One thing to consider is that once you start on a particular road, it won’t intercept the others again.  For example, if you decide to adopt through an agency, you won’t also hear about available children in the foster system.  So, it’s important that you choose the road that is right for you.

The Five Roads.

1 Foster to Adopt 

If you are considering adopting and are open to an older child, I strongly recommend the foster to adopt program.  This road meets two specific interests a lot of people have for adoption.  First, it allows them to “help” a child who needs it.  You see, there is a misunderstanding that I hear from people who say, “I want to adopt because I know there are so many babies that need a home.” That’s not really true.  Honestly, I have almost no trouble finding a home for any baby.  However, as the child gets older, it is much harder to find them a home.  Adopting through foster care really does allow you to help a child that might not otherwise get a forever family.  Second: it is free.  Many people are shocked at the costs of some roads to adoption.  Foster to adopt is the cheapest way to adopt, and can have the greatest impact.  The biggest downside is that it can be difficult to adopt an infant through the foster care system.  If you are open to adopting through the foster care system, check out The Call at www.thecallinarkansas/nwa/ or Project Zero at www.theprojectzero.com.

2 International Adoption 

I have several friends who have adopted internationally. In my experience, you have to have a unique desire to adopt internationally for this road to make sense for you.  In international adoption, it is, again, hard to adopt an infant, and it can be very expensive.  The cost depends upon the location chosen and their requirements for in-country time.  Those travel expenses can make international adoptions cost up into the tens of thousands of dollars.  The upside to international adoption is that you may be truly saving the child’s life.  Even kids here in Arkansas that have poor foster parents (though, thankfully, there are very few that do) will have basic needs met.  However, there are still places in the world where a child who isn’t adopted will quite possibly die.

3 Adoption Agency

This and the next two roads to adoption are the most common for our office to handle.  These roads allow families to adopt infants born here in Arkansas.  The costs vary between the options.  With adoption agencies, you work with an agency that helps walk you through the process. They have specialists there to answer your questions and social workers who care for the birth parents well.  Agencies can be a great road to adoption.  The fees vary greatly, however; most of the ones I work with charge between $15,000-35,000, depending on the amount of care and resources the birth parents need through the process.  I regularly recommend adoption agencies to families wanting to adopt.  I think they are the best way to make sure everybody’s needs are met. The best agencies will care well for the birth mother while walking confidently with the adopting parents.  We do legal work for some of the biggest agencies here in Arkansas, so I get a special vantage point to see how great they are and how lucky we are to have, them.

4 Doctor/Attorney Placements

Arkansas law says that a baby may be placed by a doctor or an attorney.  I, along with a few other attorneys here in Arkansas, will help match babies to adoptive parents.  We all offer a different set of pros and cons.  Generally, you won’t get the same level of attention that you would from an agency, but sometimes that can mean lower costs.  Most of my adoptions cost less than $13,000, and our goal is to get almost all of our adoptions fully reimbursed by the federal adoption tax credit. The downside to working with an attorney is that the process may be slower.  Few of us spend the advertising bucks that agencies do to help find birth moms.

5 Birth Mother Placement

This is when you find out your neighbor’s sister’s friend’s cousin is pregnant, and doesn’t yet have a plan. I always tell families about this road, and that there is so much opportunity here if you cast a wide net. I recommend to couples who want to adopt that they should tell their plan to everybody they know.  Who knows where the connection might come from?  A woman who hasn’t chosen a family to place with will often times see you as a solution to their problem.  This means you aren’t competing with other families to get chosen, and the birth mom can still get great care if you bring an attorney with a social worker into the process as soon as possible.  The other great thing about this is that the cost to do the adoption is far less if you don’t require being matched to the child.  This means that your entire adoption could cost only a few thousand dollars.  Of course, the downside to this is that it isn’t easy to find a baby, and it can be hard to be vulnerable and let everyone you know in on your desire to adopt.

These roads can be long, and bumpy, and expensive… but they are your options.  If you want to adopt, choose the road best for you and start walking.  Your child may be at the other end.

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