When planning to adopt, it’s important to consider that what may seem like a disadvantage to you may actually be considered an asset by an adoption agency or birth parents. No family is perfect; each has its own idiosyncrasies, problems and unique dynamic. However, there are some things that could make an adoption difficult.
The impact of a prospective parent’s criminal record depends on the circumstances involved. A misdemeanor many years before is obviously less severe than a DUI conviction.
Unfortunately, members of the military who move frequently can have trouble adopting due to the concern that such a life will not offer the stability a child needs.
General safety concerns or a disruptive home environment can stand in the way of an adoption. Also, an adoption agency will be reluctant to deal with a married couple who has a seemingly unhappy marriage or who may be seeking to adopt in order to save a troubled marriage. Some adoption agencies will not work with parents above a certain age.
In the case of intercountry adoptions, dealing with foreign governments and their particular requirements can be difficult. Belarus has not performed any intercountry adoptions since October 2004, and although the Belarusian government changed its procedures in 2005, intercountry adoptions with the U.S. have not yet resumed.
Depending on the agency or country you’re dealing with, certain post-adoption services, such as providing updates about the child’s well being, may be required. But adoptive parents should not ignore post-adoption services if none are required. Even an adopted infant or a child with no history of trauma may eventually need special counseling. And for a child who had a traumatic or disrupted childhood, a supportive environment and special care are crucial. When adopting, make sure that you’re prepared to deal with feelings of separation, loss or memories of prior trauma. Consider joining a support group or engaging in recreational activities for families with adopted children. Numerous non-profit organizations provide programs and counseling for adopted children and families. Some therapists specialize in dealing with adopted children and their parents. Remember: these providers are not just in case of a crisis. Group activities can allow adopted children to meet other kids with whom they can identify, and parents can interact and share experiences, give advice and provide support.
For more information about adoption and links to listings of public and private adoption agencies, support groups and government agencies, check out the links on the next page.