As we celebrate National Adoption Month in November, it is a perfect time for adults and families to ask themselves whether adoption is right for them. It’s a big decision, maybe the biggest you will make in a lifetime. But it will change people’s lives forever, both for a child or youth that is adopted and those who adopt them. For many individuals and families out there, adoption carries with it many uncertainties, starting with whether it is right for them. Here then is a quick primer on common questions associated with adoption:
- What kind of adoption is right for you?
There are three different ways to adopt: through the foster care system, with the assistance of an attorney or agency that specializes in adoption, or internationally. The foster care system is typically the less financially burdensome and includes children in your community that need forever families.
- How long does the adoption process take?
Adoption through the foster care process takes about a year – from the training classes through taking an adopted child home.
- Are you qualified to adopt?
In Florida, you have to be at least 21 years old to adopt. You can be single or married, and either rent or own an apartment or home.
- Do you have enough stability in your life to adopt?
As part of the process for adopting a child in Florida, prospective forever families will go through a home study process to see whether a family is prepared to adopt. This includes visits to the home where specialists will determine whether a caregiver and their family is able to care for an adopted child emotionally, physically and financially.
- Can your finances support an adoption?
There is no specific financial criteria for adoptive parents, although finances are part of the home study to make sure potential adoptive parents can provide the basic needs of a child. To adopt a foster child in Florida, there is almost no cost – and the state will reimburse you up to $1,000 in adoption costs, including attorney’s fees. As adoptive parents, individuals will also be eligible for a federal tax credit.
- What kind of support is available for adoptive parents and families?
• Tuition and fee exemption for any Florida public state university, public Florida College System institution or public postsecondary career and technical program. The waiver is valid until the adoptee’s 28th birthday.
• Adoptive parents receive a monthly stipend until the adopted child turns 18.
• Postadoption services are available until the adopted child turns 18.
- How will your life change as a result of adopting?
Whether you already have children or not, your life will never be the same after adopting. The love you give and receive from an adopted child is unique and can fill your life with joy and wonder. That is not to say there won’t be challenges and complications, just as with raising any child. But overcoming those challenges and helping a child experience a fulfilling life and preparing them to become an adult and independent individual is the most rewarding of experiences.
- What are the reasons for a decision to adopt?
There are infinite reasons to want to adopt a child. But the overriding reason should always be a yearning to give and receive love. Whether you and your partner cannot have children on your own, or just want to provide a stable and loving environment for a child in need, or for a multitude of other reasons, adoptive parents are needed around the world and in Miami-Dade.