If there’s one thing I’ve heard endlessly over the last few years it’s “It’s no big deal you can’t have a child of your own, why don’t you just adopt?” I usually smile politely and reply with “yeah, maybe” and change the subject. Recently though, when someone said this to me I found myself filled with a new found confidence, and although I had tears in my eyes I found myself saying “well you have your own children, why didn’t you adopt?!” Honestly nothing and I mean nothing could’ve prepared me for her response. “Well I can have children, you can’t” needless to say I followed this with a hearty “fuck you” and walked away.
It got me thinking though, why are people so quick to say “why don’t you just adopt?” as soon as they hear about someone’s fertility issues? It isn’t helpful, it actually couldn’t be further from helpful and it hurts. In fact I’m not even sure how someone could even begin to think it would be a comforting thing to say, even before my diagnosis I would never have dreamed of saying that to anyone. Ever. But maybe that’s just me.
Adoption is very often just seen as “the last or only resort” for LGBTQ couples and couples struggling with infertility. Very rarely do you hear of straight fertile couples adopting, and from my personal experience those who haven’t tend to feel it’s “beneath” them just because they have they have the ability to have a child who is genetically theirs. Adoption shouldn’t be anything to be offended by. You’re giving a child a loving and stable home, what’s offensive about that? That being said it is a MASSIVE decision, as is any other method of having a child. The feeling I have been left with after these discussions is that people seem to think that adoption is an easy process. It’s not a case of walking in and going “give me a child please” it’s long, mentally grueling, and expensive.
I’ll be honest that I have never really thought about adoption. Not as in I wouldn’t considering adopting, I just more mean that I’m not there in my journey yet. I want to try my other options first, but if those failed and Mitch and I did decide upon adoption it wouldn’t be with the mentality of “Oh it’s the only option we have left so we may as well try” it’d be because we wanted to give a child a safe and loving home. However, for this post I did look into adoption in serious detail so I could provide factual statements. I looked into both UK and Overseas adoption and honestly I was a little taken a back.
Unfortunately I cannot write too much about UK adoption. I checked out a handful of UK based adoption agency websites and couldn’t find a lot of information, so I emailed them and enquired for more information. Only a few of them replied but surprisingly I was met with a similar paragraph from each one. These paragraphs stated that there are incredibly long waiting lists for Caucasian couples, however they are calling out for “ethnic minority” adoptive parents. They then go on to explain that this is due to Britain now being a multiracial country and that they want to pair children with families of similar backgrounds. I wasn’t going to argue as I fully support children being brought up within the cultures of their heritage, you’d also think that they’d just want to find kind loving parents for those children. Instead of saying anything though I just replied thanking them for their responses, and moved on to looking into Overseas adoption as I’d probably get more answers. So here’s what I’ve managed to find out, I will list this in order of how things happen and also include time frames and costings.
UK Home Study Assessment – (£4000 – £9000 depending on the adoption agency. Takes 6-8 months) – This includes home visits from a social worker and agency representative. You have to provide SIX personal references, these can be from colleagues, family members, friends, doctors. Both of you also have to have DBS background checks as well as a full medical health check which includes a mental health assessment. Once these have been completed you then have to attending preparation groups weekly to help you understand the process and what is going to happen . Your application is then submitted and awaits approval from a panel.
Panel Approval and Application ( £1775. Takes 6-8 weeks) – A minimum of 10 experts are chosen to present a case to your chosen adoption agency. During this presentation they will have to provide a solid argument as to why you should be eligible to adopt, you and your partner will also be asked a series of questions similar to a job interview. If the adoption agency accepts your application you are then referred to the Department for Education.
Certificate of Eligibility (FREE for households under £25,000 a year, there is a charge for households with a larger income. Takes 4 weeks – 6 months) – The Department for Education will review your case, and occasionally you will be called in for a meeting with them too. If they’re satisfied with your case they will provide you with a certificate of eligibility to adopt. They will then also pass a copy of this to the country you plan to adopt from. You then get to start the longer more grueling part of the process.
Match with a Child Overseas (£5000-£12000 depending on the country PLUS flights, accommodation, and money for at least 3 visits to the child’s country during the process. Takes 6 months – 5+ years) – Once you have received your certificate of eligibility to adopt you can then arrange with your adoption agency to fly overseas and meet the babies and children at the orphanage that you have chosen. You usually spend a week or more interacting with them and “choose” the one you would like to adopt. You, the orphanage, and the adoption agency will then fill out the paperwork which will be submitted to that country’s government. Once this has been completed you are allowed to fly home while you wait for a hearing date, although it is recommended to visit the country and child at least once more before your hearing. Your adoption agency will be given the date for your hearing and both you and your partner are to fly out for this in the event you are approved for adoption, as both of you must be present to take the child out of the country. At the hearing, you and your partner will be told whether you have been successful with this particular child. If you haven’t then you have to repeat this step all over again which can understandably become quite costly, and you have to process “losing” the child that you have formed a bond with and start again. If your application has been successful then you will be taken to the orphanage to collect your child, however your journey doesn’t end here.
Bringing Your New Child Into The UK, UK adoption, and UK Passport (£1221 + flights for your child. Takes 1-4 weeks) – Before you can bring your new child into the UK you must apply for a UK adoption order which your adoption agency will help you obtain, you also need to gain clearance from the UK Government Border Control. Once this has been approved you are then free to bring your child home, after you’re home you’re asked to obtain a British passport for your child as soon as possible.
So if we work this out using the higher end of the costs, this comes to £23,996 – that’s without including flights, accommodation, and money for three visits to the country, and without the extra cost of if you’re unsuccessful at your hearing in the country of adoption. So realistically you’re looking at a good £40,000 if not more, plus the emotional and mental turmoil. That doesn’t sound like an easy option to me at all.
So next time someone says to me “Why don’t you just adopt?” I will firstly be asking them why they’ve never adopted, and I will then hit them with the information above.
I’ve reached the end of this and honestly I’m not sure where I was going with it anymore but if anyone finds it helpful then I’ve done the right thing. However if someone who has gone through this process reads this and sees I have gotten anything wrong or inaccurate please feel free to tell me. As I said I only researched quickly and haven’t been through the adoption process personally.