When people find out that I adopted, they have a whole host of questions for me. I suppose the reason is that it is fairly uncommon to find a single African-American women adopting on their own. I don't exactly fit the stereotype, right?
For the most part, I am pretty comfortable about answering questions. I have to be since as my daughter gets older, I have be able to deal with her questions.
1. Are you ready?
Step back a moment and consider how your life will change, if you adopt a child on your own.
- Are you truly ready to caring for a child 24/7 for the next eighteen plus years of your life?
- Do you travel a lot for business or pleasure?
- Do you like to go out to dinner and stay out late?
- Do you like to go on long walks?
- Do you like to go to the gym?
- Do you like to sleep in late?
- What happens when you get sick?
It sounds cliche, and you hear it all the time. When you have children, your life will change!!!
Children are not a pair of Manolo Blanicks. You can’t return them if you suddenly don’t like them. It's all you.
For me, I realized that Prince Charming wasn't coming, the white picket fence and the 2.2 children were not going to be forthcoming.
This notion hit me like a lightning bolt when a colleague told me that she was having a baby. It wasn’t so much that she was having a baby as the fact of the timing of her news. You see, she met her husband, got married and was having a baby all under 24 months. I wasn't jealous or envious. Good for her and I was truly happy for her. But what were the odds of that happening to me? Nada! I had a better chance of winning the lottery. So I knew that if I wanted to be a mother (and I did) and I would have to do it on my own. Life takes mysterious turns.
2. Before you decided to adopt, did you try other methods to become a mother?
- Are you truly over the loss of not being able to have your own child with your DNA or with you significant other? A lot of women try invitro and it doesn't take or they tried having a child with their husband and boyfriend and things just didn't work out. Just asking. You need to come to terms with your former situation, before you start the adoption process.
For me, I had no interest in going the sperm donor route or injecting myself with hormones. I am lazy and so not organized to even get that right process right. I know a lot of women who really experience birth. Again so not me. If I had gotten pregnant, I would have definitely gone down that route but adoption seemed the right choice for me from the beginning.
3. Domestic or International Adoption
- Do you want a newborn or are you fine with an older child? In international adoptions, the child is older.
- Can you travel and stay in the country for long periods of time?
- Are you willing to go alone or do you have a friend/family who can come and support you? Remember in most instances, you have to stay in a foreign country for a minimum of two weeks and then travel back to the United States by yourself.
For me, domestic adoption was the way to go. I really wanted a newborn baby. Plus it hardly made sense to go abroad, when there were so many children in the United States to adopt. Most importantly, domestic adoption just seem to be less complicated than international adoption.
4. Gender, Race, Age, Special Needs
This is a completely personal preference but will determine which agencies to work with.'
For me, I wanted a girl from the very beginning. This is a completely personal preference. Even after two years of waiting, I hung in their waiting for a girl. In my heart, I think every family ends up with the child that completes their life. My daughter was meant for me.
5. Financial Consideration
Should you be thinking about money and how you will support this baby rather than if you are ready or can provide love and support? Yes. On top of the adoption expenses, lawyers, etc. Children are expensive. According to the latest study, it costs $221,000 to raise a child until age eighteen (I think its' more.)
Thinking about finances when all you want is to become a family may sound callous and impersonal but you need to consider your options since you are the primary earner. This means less shoes for you and more diapers and formula for the baby. Rather than going to dinner, you will have to buy baby clothes. Also, who is going to take care of your child while you work?
For me, I was lucky to have worked for Fortune 50 company for many years in which I was able to save money for the adoption expenses. The company offered twelve week Family Leave without impact to my position. They also offered partial reimbursement for my adoption expenses. It was only $3,500 but every little bit helps, right. Also, I worked for a wonderful woman who was very understanding since she had adopted three children from Russia. She got it and was very supportive during the process and when the time came for me to pick my daughter up and take off for three months.
The flip side of working for a big company was, I worked a lot of long hours which meant additional babysitting costs on top of day care expenses. My monthly child care expenses were close to $1,800 a month. You do the math.
All these questions are for you to think about as you think about heading down this path.
If you have additional questions, you would like me answer in a following post, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My next post, I will talk about beginning the process.