Adoption – Where to Begin

Adoption – Where to Begin

Adopting a child as your own is one of the greatest and most meaningful acts a person can undertake. It is also one of the hardest. In this, I am speaking from experience. When everything works out, it is amazing. I have the honor of parenting three amazing children. One of them I didn’t meet until he was three years old, but make no mistake, all of them are mine. That said, it is literally a commitment for life. You become the legal parent and outright replace the biological parent in all respects. It will not be undone and if that is even a consideration in your mind, read no further, don’t do it. Before you decide to adopt a child, there are certain questions you should answer first.

Why are you adopting?

There are many right answers. Perhaps you want to start a family, but for medical reasons you can’t. Maybe your spouse already had a child when you met and you are already a permanent family, but you want to make it formal. Many reasons are great and there is no right answer, only your answer. There are however some answers that I feel are wrong. Don’t adopt a child because your spouse wants you to. If you don’t entirely believe that this is what you want, then you are not doing right by yourself, your spouse, or the child. This is a moment when absolute honesty is crucial. Also do not adopt a child hoping to save a failing marriage. I have no idea where this idea came from, but for some reason it is commonplace. If you and your spouse already have a dysfunctional relationship please, please, please do not add a child to the mix.

Can you afford it?

This question may seem callous but it is a reality of having children. Not just the upfront court costs and legal fees, but also the day-to-day. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you need to seriously consider whether this is the right time. Even if the child is already a part of your life, it changes things. The person you are replacing will no longer be obligated to pay child support. Sometimes certain government benefits that the child is currently receiving will cease based on your income.

Is this the best thing for the child?

You better have your heart in the right place, and even when you do you must consider the impact this will have on the child. The parent being replaced may be a deadbeat, drug addict or a scumbag, but they just might be a deadbeat, drug addict or scumbag that the child loves despite their faults. Don’t think that I am saying that just because a child loves their biological donor, an adoption shouldn’t occur. What I am saying is that when you step back and take an objective view, is this in the best interest of the child’s emotional, mental, and physical well being?

If you can honestly say that you are doing this for the right reason, that you can support the child, and that this adoption is in the child’s best interest, then we can move on to the “what now” phase.

There are primarily two categories of adoption.

The most common is when a person chooses to adopt a child where they are already in the position of parenting without the title. This is commonly called a step-parent adoption though I prefer to think of it as formalizing what we all already know to be true. “This is my son or daughter.” This would be like when a spouse already has a child from a prior relationship or when a family member can’t support the child due to a variety of reasons and the child is already under the supervision and care of the adult.

The second is when a person or couple chooses to adopt a child who is previously unknown. This could be a local adoption or some people choose to adopt children from other countries. Each of these is so different, I will have to cover them in separate articles.

If you are seeking legal help with an adoption, contact the Law Office of Lords and Cate and let us help you.