Temperament and personality. Do you prefer a cat that is friendly and outgoing, or one that keeps more to herself? Does she need to get along well with children or other pets, or will she be an only cat? Do you want her to be energetic and playful, or more calm and laid back? Would you like her to be talkative or would you rather she be quiet? These characteristics have a lot more bearing on how happy you'll be with your new kitty than superficial traits like what her coat looks like, so it's important to determine your preferences before visiting the shelter. Luckily shelters allow and encourage you to interact with the cats before adopting in a cat-designated room. This will help you better determine her temperament. If she is open and apt to playing with toys, she probably is pretty outgoing. If she hides in the corner, she probably will take some time to warm up to you. If she is very friendly, purring and letting you pet her, she is likely a great cuddle buddy.
One of the biggest hurdles many prospective adoptive parents face is the cost of adoption. A poll of family and friends revealed the perceived cost of adoption to be between $5,000 and $10,000. The reality is private-agency domestic adoption ranges from $20,000 to $45,000, and international adoption ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. With so many children in need of forever homes, you have to wonder: Why is adoption so expensive?
If they get into a car accident in Florida and the child has to be hospitalized, the non-biological mother is a legal stranger to the child. In cases where a lesbian couple conceives a child via co-IVF, meaning one spouse carries the other spouse's egg, the biological (but non-gestational) mother is the legal stranger. The only way to guarantee nationwide parental rights for a non-biological or non-gestational parent is by an adoption order. Even a state that doesn’t want to recognize same-sex marriages will still recognize an adoption order. But it won't come cheap.
Costs of adopting may be minimal or can total more than $40,000, depending on a number of factors. The chart below outlines some general categories of adoption and costs associated with the services provided. The wide range reflects the multitude of factors that can affect costs, including the type of adoption, type of placement agency or facilitator, and child’s age and circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to check with the agencies they are considering to find out more about specific costs for their circumstances.
Agency Fee: This fee covers administrative and professional services provided by the agency in connection with the adoption. It includes the cost of training, documentation preparation and authentication, counseling and support for adoptive parents and birth families, matching services, personnel, Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children administration, overhead, and legal consultation. Each agency has their own policies, but if a match does not result in a placement or a placement is disrupted, AdoptionLife.org rolls the agency fees over to another adoption situation.
Most adoptions through foster care are done without a charge to the adopting family. In some instances, an out-of-state family may need to pay for the cost of the Adoption Home Study and Post Placement Supervisory Visits . In some states, the adopting parent(s) need to pay for the finalization of the adoption. There will also be a series of trips to the other state to meet and bond with the child before placement into your home. The adopting family covers those costs. A local foster care adoption can cost up to $2,000, not including travel expenses.
Documentation is required for each step of the adoption process. These documents make up the dossier that most international programs require, including proof of eligibility. Each document is processed locally, then by the agency, state and federal government, and finally by the international government of the child’s country of origin. Many adoption agencies require the documents to be sealed and notarized, which authenticates the application and dossier. If a family decides to adopt internationally, they will also have to submit paperwork to the USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services) in order to receive citizenship for their child. This element is vital to the adoption process but can also add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.
Families who adopt from foster care usually adopt from a county, state, territory, or tribal public child welfare agency. Adopting a child from foster care is often funded by the state, and in most cases there are few or no fees. Parents may choose to hire a private agency to help them through this process. These families could incur out-of-pocket expenses, which they can typically recoup from federal or state programs after the adoption is finalized.
There are many options out there for covering adoption costs. Some people have worked a second job, made significant cuts in their spending, or saved for several years in order to finance an adoption. Others have taken out loans, borrowed against their 401K, or taken advantage of an employer’s adoption benefits. Adoption grants are out there, but there are far more applicants than funds available, so grants cannot be counted on for funding. Finally, some people do fundraise, though within the adoption community, this has a very mixed reception. And remember, as you will see, some forms of adoption cost less than others. If you qualify for adopting from foster care, and that is something that fits your family, then it can be an affordable adoption option.
While some agencies have a different homestudy process for foster parents and adoptive parents, others have dual licensing, and will allow families to complete one homestudy approving them for both foster care and adoption, at no cost to the family. Post-placement supervision can be provided by the same agency that supervises the foster care, and may also be free.
There's pretty much always what's known as a home study, in which a social worker creates an incredibly detailed profile of the pre-adoptive family. This profile includes their finances, education, employment, medical history, criminal history, personal history — basically everything a woman putting a child up for adoption could want to know. In fact, these profiles are so chock-full of sensitive information that when I was in the process of choosing a family for my child, my social worker read them to me aloud rather than letting me actually see them.
The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.
Secondly, adoption requires a lot of legal hoops, and for good reason. A lot of what you’re paying for is the peace of mind that the child you adopt is now fully and legally yours. If you don’t follow all the proper legal procedures, if the birth mother isn’t fully aware of her rights, if she doesn’t sign the right documents or isn’t told the right thing at the right time, if you haven’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s than the new child you adopted could be taken away. A judge could declare the adoption null and void and you lose. How much would that suck?