All new parents face certain fears – whether they’re worried about how their infant is feeding and sleeping or worrying about their child’s safety, early parenthood is fraught with emotion and uncertainty. But while all of these concerns are normal, adoptive parents may have fewer outlets for them, and friends and family may not know how to respond to their worries. It’s important to seek out others with experience adopting whom you can rely on for advice and reassurance throughout the process.

From The Start

For adoptive parents, the worrying often begins well before the child arrives with the home study process. During a home study, potential parents will undergo background checks and financial audits, and even your pets’ medical records will be examined to make sure they are properly immunized. Essentially, the home study is designed to make sure those interested in adopting a child can provide an appropriate environment and have the necessary resources to grow their family.

Open Or Closed

Adoptions come in many forms, depending on the circumstances of the biological parents, their desires, and the desires of the adoptive parents – and depending on their age, what the children want. Though most people are familiar with adoptions through the foster care system or state agencies, as well as adoptions through private agencies, fewer are familiar with the process of open adoption.

In an open adoption, adoptive parents are typically chosen by the birth parents and they work together to establish an ongoing relationship. Birth parents remain in contact with the adoptive family and may receive photos, exchange gifts, or visit with their birth child as they grow up, depending on the terms of the agreement.

Age Matters

Of course how old you are when you become a parent will influence your decisions about how your raise your child, but how old the child is will also play a role. Most people prefer to adopt infants so that they can be a part of the child’s life from the beginning, but older children are sorely in need of adoptive homes – and the older they get, the harder they are to place.

When you adopt a toddler, for example, an age that is difficult enough when they’ve had an ideal childhood, you’re likely to inherit a lot of early trauma along with that child. They may be too young to explain what has happened to them or how they feel, but they are likely to be scared – some experts describe it as feeling like they’ve been kidnapped. They don’t know who you are or why they’re with you and they want to go back to wherever they were before.

Deciding to adopt a child is a long journey, one that you’re committing to for life, and it’s important not to undertake it lightly. You need to be able to provide a stable home base where they can find security and love after getting off to a challenging start.