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Adoption Process

I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and have worked in the fields of child welfare and adoption for many years. I find that a lot of times people are curious about adoption--the process, how long it takes, types of adoption, etc. I thought I would join this community to answer any questions anyone may have about adoption. So, feel free! Thanks.
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Avatar universal
Hi,

Well, honestly I think your situation could go either way. I think your mental health condition does not automatically disqualify you from adopting domestically, (you almost certainly wouldn't be able to adopt internationally), but everything would depend on your doctor's notes and therapist's notes. More than likely, a letter would be required from all of your doctors and your therapist to help make a determination. I will be honest with you, that since you already have 3 children, you likely wouldn't be picked by a birth mom for domestic adoption. (They typically pick couples with no children, or only 1 child). You could, however, qualify for adoption through the State (Department of Child Services, or whatever they're called in the state you reside). I'm not saying you wouldn't qualify for private adoption altogether, but your chances, to be honest, are kind of slim. If you've been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, that is considered a pretty serious diagnosis, and would heavily weigh into your ability to adopt. I'm not discouraging going through a home study process--I think you should. Just be prepared that will be an issue. Again, you can always try adopting through the state--it's WAY less expensive (sometimes you even get paid an adoption subsidy), and they're way more forgiving when it comes to medical issues. Just keep all of this in mind. Good luck in your endeavor, and let me know if you have any other questions.
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Avatar universal
I was diagnosed originally as bipolar, then schizoaffective disorder, but I was also depressed and drinking at the time. They placed me on boatloads of meds. I quit drinking and the meds at the same time. And I still have occasional bouts of depression or anxiety. When I do I handle it with counseling, and occasionally I'll take an antidepressant or antianxiety for awhile until I feel better. My bouts are few and far between and aren't severe. I collect disability for my condition. Since it's improved I haven't stopped disability, because I've been physically sick, and unable to work. My physician insisted it was a psychosomatic manifestation of my mental status. However I was just diagnosed with endometriosis. The ob-gyn that did my surgery also did an endometrial ablation, without my informed consent. After I told him I wanted more children. I'm working with a fert. specialist, but the odds are slim to none. I will never be able to afford surrogacy, my husband and I are comfortable financially, but not rich. I tried to file a lawsuit against my ob-gyn to pay for surrogacy, my case is very strong but as absurd as it sounds, I already have three children. Which I have been informed the payout wouldn't be worth the time, effort and expenses, since I already have three children. So I'm pursuing other options.
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Avatar universal
Your mental health does not automatically disqualify you from adopting. However, it might disqualify you from adopting from certain countries(e.g., China). You should be able to adopt domestically with no problem.

When I've done home studies for people with a history of mental health disorders, I get a note from their doctor/psychiatrist, and their therapist (if applicable), speaking to your stability. I typically ask those providers if they have any concerns with your ability to parent an adopted child, or if they have any safety concerns for your child.

I guess one question I have is...if you were diagnosed with bipolar, why are you no longer on meds? Were you misdiagnosed?
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Avatar universal
Hi, I wanted more children, I am working with a fertility specialist to make that happen, but my chances are less than 0.7%. If I chose to adopt, what would exclude me from being able to? For two years I was on psych meds, due to complications of bipolar disorder (or so they said at the time). For the past three years I've been stable, no meds, no psych symptoms. Could my past medical history exclude me from being able to adopt?
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903660 tn?1252977130
Thank you so much for your help!
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Avatar universal
Yes, it is possible to adopt an older child through private adoption. There are not many of these children, but it is possible. If you wanted to explore this avenue, I would contact private adoption agencies who complete domestic adoptions. Many times, if not always, these children too, have suffered some kind of trauma.

There are challenges and rewards with any adoption--particularly older child adoption. Even if you adopt a 3-7 year old through international adoption, that child will have an entirely different set of challenges (e.g., language, attachment, perhaps suffering the effects of institutionalization). Again, I don't want to discourage you from adopting an older child, however, I strongly suggest you take any education classes available to you to help prepare you for the addition of an adopted child. Many times agencies (or even the State) will offer classes to help people prepare to be adoptive parents. The classes discuss in detail the various issues that may arise with adopted children. Make sure that whatever class you take, specifically addresses the challenges with older child adoption.

I'm glad to hear you're considering attending the adoption night in your city. I highly recommend you go. You might discover something there to help solidify your decision.


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903660 tn?1252977130
Thank you SO much!  With your reply, it sounds like I've researched the right stuff and had come to most of the conclusions you included in your post.  I so want to help out a hurt child, but I know that comes with my challenges.  And, since we have a 9 year old daughter, have to make the right decision for her too.  It is definately something my dh and I will have to consider VERY much.  We have friend who adopted 3 siblings and are having a lot of trouble with the oldest(10) because they suffered abuse.

When you say, "adopt through the state, but privately, what exactly does that mean?  Are these children in foster care through the state?  Are there many 3-7 year olds in private adoption?  If so, what's the usual reason why they are up for adoption?

Thanks again for your help.  Our city is offering an adoption information night in October that we'll most likely attend and see where it takes us.

Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Great! I'm glad to hear your're thinking about adoption. A few thing to consider with older child adoption: do you have any children currently in your home? If so, I would highly suggest that the child you adopt is younger than any child currently in your home. Changing the "birth order" can be difficult for any child already in your home.

A 4-7 year old child is not necessarily considered special needs. Those children are just harder to adopt out (since most people want babies). As far as any other costs associated with an older child adoption, that's a difficult question. It likely depends on what country you adopted from. If you chose to adopt domestically, you could definitely adopt through the state and it wouldn't cost you a dime. Seriously. Not even for home study or attorney fees. For children who are dependents of the State, there is no adoption cost. Often times adoptive parents will receive an adoption subsidy for the child until the child is 18. If you choose to go this route, or want to hear more about it, I'd be happy to answer any questions. I never want to discourage people from adopting State-dependent children, but you must be aware that you are adopting a child who has been through abuse, neglect, trauma, and that takes a lot of dedication, services, and hard work to help the child through that and adjust to your home.

If you are thinking about adopting through the State, my first suggestion would be to attend a foster parent information session, usually held by the Department of Child & Family Services. (Depending on which state you live in, the name of this Department varies). They offer free training for people who are interested in adopting state-dependent children. I would definitely suggest you attend one of those meetings to better understand the issues that state-dependent children face.

If you decided you didn't want to adopt a child through the state, but rather, privately, then yes, there are government programs that can help with the cost of adoption. It is true that private adoptions can range all the way to $40,000. It varies depending on the placing agency's costs, country costs, etc.

There are a million answers I could give to your questions, but I think the first thing that would be important to find out is what country you want to adopt from, and then go from there.

Let me know if I can help you further.
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Avatar universal
I'm a few months into the process, so feel free to ask me questions as well.  I'm blogging about my experience at:

www . life - according - to - leah . blogspot . com

(Obviously no spaces)

I'd love to be a resource to people.  I researched adoption A LOT before starting the process.
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903660 tn?1252977130
Thank you for offering some advice to those of us who are considering adoption.
My husband and I are in the beginning stages of talking about it.  Really, just researching it to see if it's for us.  We most likely, would adopt an "older child"- in the 4-7 age range, which from what I read is considered special needs. Are there the normal costs associated with that?  I have read there are many programs states or the federal government have to help with costs.  With a special needs adoption, other than the $1500-$2000 home study fee, the attorney fees, are there any other fees?  I have read adoptions can range from a few thousand dollars to $40,000.

Are older children only available through state "child services"?

Thanks!
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Avatar universal
if your sister in law wants to place the child for adoption, you can do that entire process privately, and through an attorney. You do not need to go through an adoption agency.

However, if she is NOT planning on placing the child for adoption, you could still have a chance to adopt that child, though the process would perhaps be more difficult. If she already has 3 children in state's custody, chances are this child would be taken from her at the hospital at birth. I could offer you more details if this is the scenario that you believe might happen. Just let me know and I can walk you through what you need to do in this case.

But, again, if she is planning to place the child for adoption, you can start the adoption process right now. Find an adoption attorney, and get a home study written. You can probably ask your adoption attorney for a referral for a social worker to conduct a home study, or, research those options online. A home study will need to be completed, however. (Some states or courts call home studies "pre-placement reports". They are the same thing). I can offer some resources for you to find a home study preparer if you tell me what state you live in.

A home study is an "evaluation" of prospective adoptive parents. There will be an interview of you and your husband, in your home, and the home study preparer will cover topics with you such as your childhood, your marriage, why you want to adopt, etc. Criminal background checks will also be completed. A criminal background does NOT necessarily mean someone cannot adopt--it all depends on what the crime was and the conviction status.

Let me know if this helps, and I am happy to offer more detailed information if you are interested.
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781932 tn?1265861764
I have a question.  There is a woman who my sister in law knows who is four months pregnant.  She already had three children in the states custody.  Say, I wanted to adopt that infant.  Could we do a private undisputed adoption.  Will all she and father have to do is sign papers through a lawyer. Do I have to go through an adoption agency?  My fiance and I have been trying to concieve for a while now.  I've alway wanted to adopt; I just don't know the legalities or processes!
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