Before adopting, you should take time to reflect on whether you can demonstrate that you will be a good parent. You probably know some biological parents that are not doing a very good job, but they do not have to prove themselves to anyone before having a kid. Adopting, on the other hand, will require you to prove your fitness to an adoption agent, a biological parent, or a court (or maybe all three). Here are some of the questions adopting parents should ask.
Do I have the money?
According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raising a child to adulthood costs an average of $241,080. Most of that money, 30%, is spent on housing. Child care (18%), food (16%), and transportation (14%) are the other big drivers of costs. And these costs only include raising a child to age 18. Costs can easily double to send a child to college or care for a child that lives at home after high school.
Just securing an adoption costs money as well. When you are scrutinized in the adoption process you will need to show both that you have money saved up front for the initial costs of bringing a child into your home, and also that you have a stream of income that can care for the child in years to come. That means having a good job and a stable career.
Am I married?
Adoption agencies tend to favor married couples, and some still discriminate in favor of heterosexual couples over same-sex couples. This is important to understand because marriage is becoming less common as more young people feel that they do not need the legal commitment of marriage to validate their relationship. Adoption agencies tend to value the stability that comes with marriage, though, and often prefer couples that have been married for two years or more.
Am I young and healthy enough?
Adoption agencies tend to like parents that are less than fifty years old, as it can be difficult to raise a child when you are getting close to 70 years old. Likewise, if you have chronic health conditions you will need to prove that you can care for a child and that you are expected to be healthy while the child grows up.
Do I have a safe home?
In some ways, this question is an extension of having enough money. You need to be able to have a home that has room for a growing child. It does not necessarily have to be fancy, but it must be safe and in an appropriate neighborhood for a child of the age, you are trying to adopt.
Do I have skeletons in my closet?
Adopting parents will undergo a background check. Though disqualifying crimes will vary from state to state, it is safe to assume that serious criminal histories will prevent adoption. For example, you will probably not be able to adopt if you have been convicted of a violent felony, sex crime, or causing harm to a child or animal. Drug offenses will be overlooked by some states, especially if the offense happened over five years ago. Some states will also deny adoptions for a “pattern” of less-serious misdemeanor convictions, like shoplifting.