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The decision to start a family is a major one. And a follow-up consideration to wanting to have kids is whether you should adopt. Adoption is increasingly becoming a popular avenue for people looking forward to family life. Adoption can be rewarding and fulfilling but can involve a lengthy application process and can be cost-intensive. Is it right for you?
Here are a few considerations to take into account in deciding whether to adopt a child:
Can you adopt?
In 17 states and in D.C. a single adult or married couple can adopt, and a stepparent can adopt a stepchild.
There are a few age restrictions in various states, with minimum age for adoption ranging from 18 to 25 depending on state law. Also, in a handful of states, adopting parents must be at least 10 years older than the children they adopt. Less than half of the states require U.S. residency status to adopt a child.
Adoption by gay and lesbian couples is allowed by most states; prohibitions and limitations in Florida and Mississippi law are being actively challenged in court.
Why do you want to adopt?
Adopting parents are often drawn to or compelled by the idea of adoption. Whatever your reason is for considering it, research your options and talk to others who have gone through the process. Questions of identity and biological history will be a different and unique part of an adopted child's growth and development and will be something that you will have to be ready to answer and explore.
How much does it cost to adopt? How long will the process take?
Private adoptions through agencies that involve an attorney, may cost adoptive-hopefuls an estimated $20,000 in fees, with international adoptions potentially costing less. Private or international adoptions can take a few months or even up to a year.
Adopting through a local state agency can waive adoption fees and the process is often much shorter.
Ready to find out more? Stay tuned for follow-up posts on various aspects of the adoption process as part of our series, The Adoption Option. Don't miss a single Adoption Option post-- subscribe to the Law & Daily Life RSS feed to get daily posts delivered right to your feed reader.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.