For people with cystic fibrosis who have ruled out pregnancy, have a partner who is a CF carrier, or have simply always wanted to pursue adoption as a family planning option, adoption can be a great way to have kids and build a family. At the same time, however, it can also be an emotionally and financially demanding process that requires the prospective parents to navigate complex regulations and procedures.
For this reason, it is important to gather as much information as possible before you decide to start the adoption process. Many states offer or require training sessions to help families learn more about adopting a child. You can also get information from agencies, attorneys, support groups, mental health professionals, adoption organizations, seminars, your CF care team, and friends and family.
By understanding the different types of adoption and learning more about the pros and cons, you can ultimately decide whether adoption is the right family-building option for you.
Different Types of Adoption
The first step toward adopting a child is learning more about the different types of adoption available to you. This includes considerations such as open versus closed adoption, agency versus private adoption, and country of origin.
Closed vs. Open Adoption
Open adoption refers to any adoption in which identifiable information and contact is shared between the adoptive family and birth parents, with varying degrees of interaction between the two parties. Closed adoptions, on the other hand, are adoptions in which there is no contact between the adoptive family and birth parents, and no identifying information is provided.
Although closed adoptions used to be the norm, the majority of domestic adoptions in the United States today are open adoptions. This differs from most international adoptions in which there is often little to no information available about the birth parents or their history.
Agency vs. Independent Adoption
Depending on which state you live in, one of the most important choices you will make as you go through the adoption process is whether to use an agency. Adoption agencies take the prospective parents through every step of the process, including providing a social worker to perform a home study, connecting birth parents with adoptive parents, handling the termination of parental rights, and finding an attorney. It should be noted that having cystic fibrosis should not negatively affect you if you decide to adopt through an agency.
“I asked the adoption agency if having CF would play a role in my wife and I getting a child. The agency was understanding and said, 'How can we predict health? Another woman from another family could adopt a child tomorrow and get breast cancer the next day.'” — Sarah Foose, adult with CF
Independent adoptions, on the other hand, are when the prospective parents deal with the birth mother directly and work closely with an attorney or other intermediaries as allowed by state law. Independent adoption is not legal in all states, however, so reading up on the laws in your state is key as you begin to narrow down your options.
Agency adoption is typically more expensive than independent adoption, but it can also offer more counseling and support. Although independent adoptions are often cheaper, they can also take longer and require the prospective parents to initiate and navigate a complicated, labor-intensive process. Therefore, your decision will often come down to financials, your personal preferences, and the laws in your state.
“For my first son, my husband and I decided to do everything ourselves without an agency. For my second son, however, we had saved enough money to the point where we decided to just bite the bullet and go through an agency. As opposed to the year or so it took to look for our first son on our own, the agency was able to match us within the first few months.” — Annie Hirsch, adult with CF
Adoption laws differ by state and country. If you decide to adopt domestically and go across state lines, for example, you will need to comply with the laws in both states before you can formally adopt the child. Each state has legislation in place called the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children that dictates the exact rules for placing children across state lines.
For those who decide to adopt internationally, there will be an entirely different set of rules, policies, procedures, regulations, laws, and cultural issues specific to the country you are considering. For this reason, it is crucial that adoptive parents work closely with an attorney experienced in adoption law and the emotional complications it entails -- especially if you decide to adopt without using an agency.
Cost and Other Implications
In addition to the rules, regulations, and legalities involved, adoption is also an emotionally and psychologically difficult process with many uncertainties. For this reason, it is important that you establish a support system that can help you navigate through the emotional aspects.
Although the cost will vary depending on factors such as if you go through a private agency or adopt domestically or internationally, adoption is generally an expensive process and can come as a significant financial burden to the prospective parents.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Compass can help you find resources for the cost of adoption, other financial barriers, and legal information. Call 844-COMPASS (844-266-7277) Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.