It doesn’t seem fair that adoption is so hard. After all, parents who want to adopt have already been through the brutal experience of learning that they will be unable to have their own biological children. One would hope that the landing from that could be a little softer. But as anyone involved in adoption can tell you, the degree of difficulty just continues to increase.
First, there are all the people involved in your decision and its outcome. When Joe and Sally decide to make a family and it happens naturally, nobody gets to weigh in on whether they will be good parents. At least not until after the baby is born. Such blissful privacy is not allowed the couple that chooses to adopt. All of a sudden, your health history, your marital status, the quality of your relationship, your finances and your deeply personal feelings about becoming a parent are subject to scrutiny by a literal parade of people. Attorneys, social workers, birth mothers, even foreign government agents may be able to ask you the most personal of questions. If your answer displeases one or more of the parties, good luck. The pressure is enough to make you want to lie or fake in order to win. The scrutiny itself is an almost unbearable degree of difficulty in adopting.
As the various involved parties pick through your life with a fine-tooth comb, a couple of Go/No Go factors emerge right at the beginning: marital status and sexual orientation. Although it may be common in Hollywood for single women to adopt babies, in the real world being single poses singular difficulty for an adoptive parent. Even if the adoption agency or birth mother approves of a single parent adoption, how does a single parent both earn a living and provide care for a child at the same time? When so many parents are waiting for so few children, married couples who can provide more one-on-one attention to the child have a clear advantage over single adoptive parents.
Hotly debated nationwide right now is the subject of gay adoption. Some states and some foreign governments have rules against gay adoptions. In states that require gays to be considered equally with heterosexual couples for adoption, there are adoption agencies that have closed their doors rather than comply. The degree of difficulty in this area may be insurmountable at times.
The costs of adoption can be so prohibitive that parents without ample finances are seriously disadvantaged. Private domestic adoption with attorneys fees and contributions to the birth mother’s pregnancy and delivery can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Equally expensive international adoption often requires travel to the foreign country and some time spent living there. There may also be stiff fees paid to the foreign agencies or orphanages facilitating the adoption. Domestic adoption through a state agency, such as the County of San Diego, is free, but there are virtually no healthy newborns available by going this route.
Adoptive parents are held to a much higher health standard than parents who make their families biologically. Back to Joe and Sally, if Sally has been diagnosed with a serious health condition, say Multiple Sclerosis, she and Joe can still decide to proceed with having children. If Sally and Joe are looking to adopt, any significant health condition can delay or prevent successful adoption. Birth mothers who choose to give their babies up for adoption naturally want the very best for their children and when other parents present a pristine bill of health, an individual with compromised health is not the first choice.
The degree of difficulty for adoption is extreme. It takes a very special person to be willing to create a family through adoption and to persevere through the process. Scrutiny over health, finances and marital status puts extra pressure on already-stressed but hopeful potential parents. Hang tough. The rewards are worth it.