Some families want to adopt more than one child at a time. For prospective adoptive parents, this can be challenging, however. Here’s what to expect and how to prepare for the process.
Do You Qualify To Be An Adoptive Parent?
You may be excited about becoming a prospective adoptive parent, but adopting multiple waiting children isn’t an automatic process. Depending on the state you happen to live in, there may be regulations which prevent you from adopting waiting children.
For example, in Georgia, you must be at least 25 years old if you’re single and at least 10 years older than the waiting child. There is no age restriction if you are married, but you must still be 10 years older than the waiting child.
Check with your state laws before you start researching the adoption process with agencies or a private attorney.
The Basic Process: What To Expect
The Initial Inquiry And Education
When you first make contact with the state’s Department of Human Services or with an adoption agency, you may want to spend time learning about the adoption process if you aren’t already familiar with it.
Most agencies will provide you with as much information as you need so that you’re comfortable with the entire process. You may also want to check out books and magazines concerning adoption and adoption services through your local library or a bookstore.
Selecting The Right Agency
Choosing the right agency for you and your family is important. The state generally requires that you work with an agency or attorney licensed in the state where you live. Beyond that, you may choose from any agency that you feel comfortable with.
When you contact an agency you feel might fit your needs, ask about the fee structure, how they assess waiting children and prospective adoptive parents, and how long the process will take.
You may also want to ask about references and speak with other parents who have used the same agency, if possible. Finally, asking about which legal services you may be responsible for on your own will better prepare you for the adoption process.
Doing A Homestudy
A homestudy consists of a series of meetings between you and an agency social worker to start a working conversation about the adoption process. It also prepares you as a prospective adoptive parent.
The social worker may ask you for various documents like your birth certificate, your marriage license, child abuse clearances, and some personal references before finalizing a report. At least one of the meetings will be with you in your home. During this meeting, anyone who lives with you will need to be at the meeting.
The purpose for the meeting is to help support you during your journey by ensuring that you’re ready to parent 2 or more waiting children at the same time. He or she can also answer questions for you or help you find additional resources to support you.
Searching For Waiting Sibling Groups or Multiple Waiting Children
You may start your search for waiting sibling groups or waiting children once the homestudy is completed. Your agency can help you find an appropriate match with children in its care or help you connect with other child placing agencies.
Exchanging Information and Being Selected As Adoptive Parents
When you do find a waiting sibling group, or waiting children, the next step is to exchange information. Your homestudy report will be sent to the waiting children’s’ social worker. If the worker is interested in your family, then you may receive a profile of the children.
Meet With The Waiting Child
In some cases, you may not be alone in your search for a child. Other prospective adoptive parents may also be looking and may be interested in the same children you’re interested in. Ultimately, a social worker must make the best decision for the waiting children.
The worker makes the final decision. But, when you are selected, more confidential information about the child is shared with you and you can take time to determine if this really is the right child for your family.
If any waiting child’s birth parents’ parental rights are not terminated yet, it will be done at this time.
Receiving Placement Of Your Waiting Child And Finalization Of The Adoption Process
You may meet with the child before the child moves in with you. Normally, there is an initial meeting, followed by several visits over a period of a few weeks or months.
If the child lives in a different state, the agency may arrange for at least one or two visits before the child moves to be with you.
Once placement is completed, your agency will visit and work with you over the next several months during a post-placement supervision. During this time, you will be asked to file a legal intent to adopt petition.
How To Prepare For Your Waiting Child
Visit With Other Adoptive Parents
Before you adopt multiple waiting children, or a sibling group, you may wish to speak with other adoptive parents, especially if you’re unsure about the adoption process or what to expect. Speaking with other adoptive parents can give you invaluable insight as to what it’s like to expand your family with a waiting child.
Assess Your Living Space
Do you have enough space for a waiting child? Of all of the steps in the process, this one sometimes gets overlooked. Sure, there’s a lot of paperwork to do, meetings with agencies, and of course, the precious, precious child.
At the same time, there’s a very practical consideration that needs to be made before you even approach an adoption agency. If you’re looking to adopt 2 or more children, where will they live?
If you live in a single family house with one bedroom, you will likely have to move into a larger home.
How Strong Is Your Marriage?
Many couples don’t have to worry about the strength of their marriage. Some do. This can sometimes be a difficult process to go through, and it’s important to be honest with yourself and your spouse about whether you can emotionally and psychologically handle multiple waiting children or a sibling group.
While not universally true, many children do require a lot of attention. And, most children with special needs do require constant care and supervision. As a prospective adoptive parent, you are accepting the responsibility for a young life and many people find that they cannot do it without the full support of their spouse.
Connect With A Counselor For Help During and After The Process If You Need To
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Every situation is different. You may or may not need help parenting, however, you are creating an entirely new family and there is always the potential for unexpected problems to arise so be cognizant of that.
Some, but not all, children who are placed for adoption have special needs. When you adopt more than one waiting child at a time, there is the potential that you may need extensive counseling both for you and for the children.
Having a facility within easy driving distance may reduce the stress and time commitment you need to make if you have to see a counselor multiple times per month or even per week.
You are facing a huge responsibility however, at the end of the day, you are also aiming to create a loving and safe environment for a waiting child. And if you get the help you need to do that, everyone stands to benefit.