Many people dream of growing up and starting a family of their own when they’re kids. You don’t expect roadblocks like infertility to get in the way of becoming a parent. Yet, over 10 percent of women struggle with infertility.
One of the best ways to turn a heartbreaking situation into a hopeful one is to start looking into adoption. There are plenty of children out there who need loving homes, after all. Why not adopt a child and change their whole world (and yours)?
The process of adoption, however, is not so simple. What are the requirements for adopting a child? Read on to find out.
In the past, adoption was a no-go situation for anyone who was not married. Single people couldn’t adopt because it was perceived that they could not support the child and raise them, too. Unmarried couples weren’t permitted to adopt because of conservative moral beliefs.
Today, however, marriage requirements rarely stand in the way of someone who wants to adopt and who is qualified to adopt. If you are married, then your state may require that you have been married for at least two or three years before you are qualified to adopt, but those requirements are uncommon.
If you live in Utah, however, then you cannot adopt unless you are married. Unmarried couples and individuals who wish to adopt will need to relocate in order to adopt a child.
In life, we are constantly striving to improve ourselves. Some people may find that they hit a few snags on the way to being a responsible adult. You might even find yourself with a criminal charge or a prison sentence.
Having a criminal history does not automatically preclude you from pursuing adoption, but it can definitely make the process more difficult. Before you can adopt a child, the state and the adoption agency will examine a number of factors about the criminal act in which you were involved.
First, they’ll look at the nature of the crime. They’ll also want to know how long ago that crime was committed. Finally, they’ll want to see that you have taken the steps necessary to turn your life around.
Be Emotionally Prepared
Before you begin the adoption process, it’s important for you to take some time to make sure you and/or your partner are emotionally ready. Adoption can feel a bit like a roller coaster, especially when you’re trying to get selected for a child, and you want to be ready for that.
If the reason you are adopting is because of fertility issues, be sure to take the time to grieve the fact that you cannot have a child of your own. Talk to your spouse about the adoption process to make sure they are just as on board with pursuing adoption as you are. You’ll also want to take the time to speak with your family about it if you feel comfortable.
Have Your Finances in Order
Adopting a child is not a small expense, even if you’re adopting a child from a local individual. Expect to pay up to $50,000 for the entire adoption process. This might mean saving up extra funds to make sure that you have the money available.
That said, there are some financial incentives involved in adopting a child. For example, the US government offers an adoption tax credit to adoptive parents. There are also grants and loans available to make adoption less difficult, financially.
Schedule a Home Study
Once you’re ready to adopt and you know you meet all the adoption requirements, then you will want to reach out to an adoption agency to help you find a child.
The agency will then complete a home study to make sure your home is a safe place for a child. Expect them to collect documents and perform background checks on you and anyone else in your home. They will also evaluate your home and perform an interview to get to know you better.
Once the home study is complete, then you can begin the real adoption process.
What Are the Requirements for Adopting a Child as a Step-Parent?
Adopting a child is one thing, but step parent adoption is a whole other ballgame.
In general, if the other parent of the child is still alive, then they must be willing to terminate their rights as a parent. This involves signing an affidavit, and it is a permanent release of parental rights. However, many states allow a court to order that the parent relinquish their rights if there is evidence that this is what is best for the child.
You will need to meet with an attorney who specializes in family law in order to facilitate this process.
What About Same-Sex Couples?
Adoption is a particularly sensitive topic for same-sex couples. Until recently, it was next to impossible for a same-sex couple to adopt a child together or go through the step-parent adoption process.
Today, same-sex couples in all states except for Mississippi are eligible to adopt a child together. As long as you meet the qualifications to adopt a child, then you are legally eligible to adopt.
That does not mean it will be as easy as it is for a heterosexual couple, however. It is important to work with an attorney to make sure you are being treated fairly in the adoption process.
Are You Ready to Adopt a Child?
Adoption is one of the most powerful things we have in our culture to change the lives of children and parents. Don’t let the question of “what are the requirements for adopting a child” stop you from pursuing your dream of becoming a parent. If you aren’t sure whether you meet all the requirements, be sure to reach out to an adoption specialist or an attorney to help make the process an easier one.
Adoption is just the first step in the life-long journey that is parenthood. As a new parent, you’re bound to need access to resources that can help you take on all the challenges you’ll face. Check out the rest of our blog for tons of helpful advice about life as a parent!