You may have been thinking about adoption. How does a family go about making that decision? Like marriage, adoption involves a lifetime commitment. Not a step to take lightly.
Take your time. In general, three to six months together in the home should be sufficient to decide if you can make that commitment. That provides time for attachment to develop and grow towards a significant bond. Bonding is defined as a “significant reciprocal attachment which both parties want and expect to continue….”
Talk it over with your spouse and extended family and friends. Welcome their support and their concerns. But ultimately, the final choice must be yours.
People adopt for a variety of reasons. Some people want a child that they assume will cause few problems. Others welcome a challenge. The child nobody else wants. Most adopting parents have a big heart and room to spare. Be comfortable with who you are. But don’t be afraid to take a risk. The only true way to fail in life is never to take a chance.
Once you have decided, then what? You need an attorney who knows the territory. To find someone knowledgeable and efficient, check with other foster and adoptive parents for their recommendations.
Filing to adopt a foster child is not simple. A good attorney can shepherd you through the entire process. First, a termination of parental rights is needed. Next and most important, your attorney will negotiate with the Department of Child Services to make sure that you receive all of the many post-adoption subsidies to which you and your child are entitled.
Good luck. Whatever you decide, your heart is in the right place.
Peter A. Kenny, Attorney for Adoption and Foster Care
Executive Director of ACT (Adoption in Child Time)