I hear from people all the time, “I’ve always wanted to adopt, but…” and they name a reason or 5 that right now isn’t the right time for them to adopt. I appreciate that people know their limits, but I also believe we sometimes make excuses for things we are afraid to do. There is rarely a perfect time to adopt. If you want to adopt, you probably can.
I’ve Always Wanted to Adopt, BUT…
I can’t afford it
Children who are available for adoption do not need a lavish lifestyle. Adopting through foster care is free and children may be eligible for a small monthly stipend to help cover living expenses. All adoptions are eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit.
I don’t have enough space in my home
I’ve met many people who think an adopted child must have their own bedroom. An adopted child can usually share a bedroom with a child of the same sex. If you adopt through foster care, the child’s monthly stipend may make moving to a slightly bigger apartment possible.
I work full time
You can definitely adopt when working full time. Unfortunately, companies are not required to give maternity leave, but many companies have their own policy and may allow some paid leave. Plus, adoption falls under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) meaning companies over 50 people must allow you to take 12 weeks unpaid if you would like. If you are adopting through foster care, daycare may be covered until the adoption is finalized.
Unmarried people can always adopt through foster care, and some countries allow singles to adopt internationally (I know China and Bulgaria do, to name a few) . If you want to adopt as a single parent, there are definitely options for you.
Gay couples can adopt through foster care in almost every state. Adopting internationally as a gay couple is a bit trickier at this point in time.
I want to have biological children first
People say this one the absolute most frequently. I do understand wanting to adopt after having biological children so that you feel more experienced as a parent, but sometimes when people say this it sounds like they are making adoption a back up plan. Many people plan to have biological children then adopt, but when it comes down to it, it never happens. Life gets busy, and they forget their dream of adopting. There are lots of perks to adopting first that I’d urge you to consider.
I’m too old
There is no maximum age for adopting through foster care, and I had several folks in their 60’s at my foster parent training. Different countries have different laws on age maximum, many take into account the age and needs of the child you are planning to adopt. If you want to adopt, you probably aren’t too old.
I’m too young
You only have to be 21 to adopt through foster care in most states. The age minimum for adopting internationally varies by country, with many countries having an age minimum of 25. If you haven’t reached either of those ages yet, they’ll be here before you know it. In the meantime, start researching, going to information sessions, saving, planning, etc.
I can’t love someone who isn’t related to me
If you’re married, I send my condolences to your spouse. And yes you’re right, you shouldn’t adopt.
I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to bond with an adopted child
I actually think it’s good to realize this is an obstacle for some folks before adopting. Many people think they are going to instantly love their child, but bonding takes time. That’s not unique to adoption, I’ve heard several friends say they took a few months to bond with their biological child as well. You will likely bond just fine. There are lots of resources to help with ideas, and specialists you can meet with should you genuinely have trouble.
I’m not in perfect health
You don’t have to be. You need to be able to care for a child. Depending on your circumstances, you might have to hunt around a bit to find the right fit, but if you are able to care for a child, there will likely be a path to adoption for you. Foster care adoption is very open to those with health concerns, and different countries are open to different disabilities. If you feel able to care of a child, don’t let this stand in your way.
I have a criminal record
Crimes against women and children will make you unable to adopt, but other crimes might not be a problem. I have a good friend who always wanted to adopt, but thought her family couldn’t because the husband had gotten a DUI 15 years earlier. When they finally reached out to an agency, the agency completely understood that something like that would never happen again. Just be honest about your passed, you might be surprised.
I’d be afraid the child’s birth family would come back for them
After a child is legally adopted, their birth family cannot come and take them back (save for a few extremely rare cases). However, when possible, maintaining a relationship with your child’s birth family is important.
The area I live is not racially diverse, and I’d worry about how a child of another race would feel in our town.
It is super hard to grow up without any peers who look like you. And I strongly believe you should consider the child’s comfort when adopting transracially. There are children of all races available for adoption both through foster care and internationally. It’s okay to decide that transracial adoption is not for you.
My spouse doesn’t want to adopt
I always feel so bad when this happens to people. It must be super tough to want something so badly, and have your spouse be against it. In these cases I’d say, is your spouse dead set against it? Or hesitant? In almost every couple I know that has adopted, one person was hesitant at first. Give them time. Encourage them to attend information sessions with you. Let them know why it’s important to you. There is a good chance they will come around.
It’s National Adoption Month. If you want to adopt, don’t let the BUTS stand in the way. Get in touch with an agency and talk. If that agency isn’t a good fit, try another. There will never be a perfect time to adopt, so why not now?