Adopting a child involves many challenges. As with any significant undertaking, it’s best to prepare yourself for some of the problems you’ll face. Before you bring your new child home, you’ll need to overcome legal, emotional, and financial challenges.

Planning Comes First

If you’re married, you should discuss the adoption process thoroughly with your spouse. You’ll need to decide between domestic and international adoption, and whether you prefer a baby or an older child. You’ll need to determine if you’re willing to adopt a child with special needs. These decisions will help you make some important decisions about which child you’ll adopt.

Prepare Yourself Financially

Adoption involves legal costs, and your new child will need many furniture, clothing, and other supplies. A recent report by Nashville Parent estimates a domestic adoption can cost up to $35,000. In addition to adoption fees, you may need to pay medical costs for the birth mother. With international adoption, you’ll have to pay for traveling to the child’s country.

Before you adopt, you should consider the significant expenses the child could need after the adoption. For example, if you adopt a school-age child, you should know dental experts recommend any necessary orthodontic treatments should begin by age seven. If you adopt a teen, you should be prepared to pay their college costs.

The Right Agency

Since adoption is legal, you’ll need the help of an adoption agency or a lawyer. Before making a final decision, research the lawyer or agency you’ll use. Ask them if they specialize in domestic or international adoptions. Also ask about their home study process, fees, and about their usual waiting period.

For you to be approved for adoption, a home study must be done – usually by a social worker. They’ll check your home for safety and if it’s suitable for a child. If you have other children, the study will observe your relationships. They’ll also investigate your finances, medical history, job, and mental health.

Find Your Child

If you adopt an older child, the agency may have a list of available children. For a baby, you’ll need to prepare an adoption profile to introduce you to women looking for adoptive parents. The agency can help you prepare a profile that will convey your positive attributes to prospective mothers. One critical issue is whether you want an open adoption (where the birth mother retains ongoing contact with the child) or closed adoption (where the birth mother has no contact with the child.)

Once your adoption application is approved, you can bring your child home. If you’re adopting a baby, you’ll get a call when the mother is in labor. After your child comes home, the adoption agency will help you file a petition for adoption. The agency will conduct another home study to evaluate your family’s relationship with the new child.

Bringing Your Child Home

Once you bring your child home, you’ll have a period of adjustment. As part of your new parenting activities, you’ll learn your child’s temperament and adapt to changes in your family routine. Every family member will need to adjust to the changes this new child will bring.

As a parent, one essential thing you’ll do for your child is to model the values you hold dear. This process begins with setting a good example for your child. As Medium Magazine reminds us: a child retains 80% of what they observe – as compared to 10% of what they hear or 20% of what they read.

The adoption process can be full of challenges. At times, it may seem as though your wish for a child may never come true. But, just as your quest for adoption began with a desire of your heart, let your heart be your guide as you and your new family learn to live – and love – together.