What is Domestic Adoption?
What is Domestic Adoption?
Domestic adoption is adoption within one’s own country. The obvious advantage is that the adoptive family does not need to complete all the paperwork required for international adoption. However, there are actually many more reasons to consider this form of adoption. In many cases, domestic adoption can be free or the adoptive parents can even continue to receive a stipend while the adopted child is a minor. Domestic adoption also supports the local community. One of the best cases for domestic adoption is that God calls us to love our neighbors as well as to take care of the orphaned. Therefore, what better way to combine these two commands than to adopt from within the local area?
What are the different types of Domestic Adoption?
There are many different types of Domestic Adoption. The two primary methods are adopting through Foster Care and through an agency. For information on supporting or participating in foster care, please see our section on Foster Care.
What is adopting through an agency?
Each agency approaches the adoption process a little differently, but the general plan is more or less the same. Typically, when a mother realizes that she is unable or unwilling to care for the child, she often will seek an adoption plan by meeting with an adoption agency and expressing her intent to allow other families to adopt her baby.
On the other end, the agency is also constantly screening other prospective families. Families interested in adoption need to complete extensive paperwork and undergo an intensive home study, which involves a case worker coming to the home to interview the potential parents and assess the home. Families are then rated and a bio is written on them. These bios are then presented to the biological mother and possibly father who will then select the family they feel the most comfortable adopting the child.
Does it cost anything to adopt through an agency?
It can be extremely costly to adopt through an agency. Costs can be almost as high as adopting internationally. Adoptive families need to pay the standard agency and legal fees. Moreover, some birth mothers request financial assistance during pregnancy. This can range from basic living expenses to medical bills. There is also the cost involved in traveling to wherever the baby is born and returning with him or her.
How do you adopt through Foster Care?
First, one needs to be approved by the local foster care system. In many cases, a family already serving as a child’s foster parents will elect to adopt the child when biological parental rights are terminated. While a child is in foster care, the foster parents are simply agents of the state, looking after the child, but having no ultimate decision-making authority. However, when parental rights are terminated, the state begins the process of looking for a family who will adopt the child. By this point in the process, the remainder of the foster child’s biological family has been ruled out for one reason or another, so the only other possibilities are government-approved families. The foster family is often one of the first choices. If that family is not willing or able, then the system will look to other families in the system.
Does it cost anything to adopt through Foster Care?
Yes and no. The “no” answer is that in most cases, the state will cover the cost of the adoption. In fact, in Pennsylvania where HOPEful Orphan Ministries is located, if the child meets certain criteria (special needs, certain racial minorities, etc.) there are government stipends which will continue to be issued to the adoptive family while the adopted child is a minor.
However, it needs to be pointed out that every adoption has a cost of some kind or another. God’s adoption of His children into His family cost the life of His Son. Therefore, it stands to reason that every earthly adoption is going to continue to have a cost. While there is no financial cost, foster families who go on to adopt their foster children often report a very worthwhile, yet heavy emotional cost. Navigating and participating in the foster care system can be very emotionally taxing on a family who is hoping to adopt, as they deeply love a child in their home, who’s future residence is unknown.
Are there other ways to adopt through Foster Care without being a Foster Family?
In Pennsylvania, the Statewide Adoption Network (SWAN) program is another process by which a family may adopt a child without having to currently serve as a foster family. SWAN maintains a database of children in the PA foster care system who are immediately adoptable. Upon completion of paperwork, training, and the usual government approval process, prospective adoptive parents work with the government agency to select a child that will be right for their family.
For more information on domestic adoption, please see our domestic adoption resource page.