Adopting a child is a very important decision in your life and the life of a child. Before adopting, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I want to adopt a child?
- Can I provide a stable home for a child?
- Am I ready to open my heart to another's needs?
- Is this child just a substitute for a lost child or a person in his or her own right?
- Am I willing to go through all the paperwork and various other requirements to have a child?
- How will I handle my friends' and family's questions and comments about adoption?
- Can I love this child as my own?
- How will I deal with my child's questions about birth parents?
- When will I tell my child about adoption?
- Can I afford to take another person into my family?
Families who adopt have several traits in common. These are a sense of humor, a true acceptance of the child's differences, the ability to measure success in small steps and a firm belief in commitment.
Steps in the Adoption Process:
Once you decide to pursue adoption, you will begin the adoption process via the following steps:
1. PRIDE Pre-Service Training Course
The Parenting Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) pre-service training course is a 27-hour training and preparation course that adoptive parents are required to successfully complete. These training sessions are usually held one night a week for nine weeks. Completion of the PRIDE pre-service training course does not guarantee approval for adoption.
2. Home Study
A home study must be completed. You will be required to provide information about your physical and emotional health. Background checks will be conducted for everyone living in your home at the local, state and federal level. References will be requested from your employer and school officials, if you have children in school. In addition, character references will be requested from individuals who have known you and your family.
A counselor will visit your home on at least two occasions to complete the home study interview. If you have children, it will be important for the counselor to ask them a few questions about what they think about adoption. Some of the topics that will be discussed with you and your family include:
- Why you want to adopt
- Your childhood
- The strengths of your marriage or current significant relationships
- Your financial situation
- Your parenting style/philosophy
When the needs of the child or sibling group are matched with your family, the adoption counselor will discuss with you the pre-placement activities, including supervised and unsupervised visits with the child. Once you, your family, the child and the child's counselor determine the child is ready, the official placement will occur. An adoptive placement means that your home study and all accompanying adoption paperwork has been completed and approved by Wesley House and our lead agency, Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe.
4. Placement Supervision
After a child is placed, a counselor must make monthly visits in order to assess the child's adjustment and whether new or additional services are needed. The supervision period lasts a minimum of 90 days before finalization can occur.
An attorney will schedule a hearing before a judge. The cost of finalization is reimbursed up to $1,000 which typically covers all attorney fees. At this hearing the adoption will be legalized and the child will legally become part of your family.