When I was about ten, a woman from an international adoption agency came to our church and talked about international adoption. It seemed like the most wonderful thing: we could essentially rescue a baby from a dead-end life and provide them with the unbounded opportunities that we have in this country. A great way to save the world, one child at a time! I was hooked. I decided I would adopt a child when I grew up.
But as an adult, I began to see just how problematic international adoption is. Wouldn't it be better to create opportunities for the child (and everyone else) in their home country instead of whisking one child out of there? International adoption costs tens of thousands of dollars per child -- and that kind of money could go really far in an impoverished country towards satisfying the needs of many children.
Furthermore, there are many children right here at home who need families. Why go halfway across the world when there are kids halfway across the city who could use your help? I decided that adopting a local child would be best.
A lot of people prefer to adopt babies, which leaves a lot of older kids without a home. This did not strike me as fair to those children. I determined that I would want to adopt an older child.
That being said, I realized that I had some constraints. I would want to adopt a child to provide him or her with opportunities that would enable the child to live independently and become a contributing member of society. So I would be the most interested in adopting a child who had a high probability of being able to live independently and be successful.
Jeff was always aware that I wanted to adopt a child. He wanted to have a biological child, which we did. After a lot of discussion and thinking it over, Jeff was ready to start down the adoption pathway with me. So I looked at the state's website and tried to figure out how to be eligible to adopt a child from the child welfare system. I made a couple of calls, trying to figure out what to do. The state social worker suggested that I contact one of the private agencies that the state contracts with. I looked at the websites of several local agencies, and finally connected with someone at an agency that I liked,* and signed us up for the classes.
* I was cautious about private agencies because most of them are religious-based (e.g., Catholic charities, Baptist adoption agencies, etc.), and I did not feel that they would be accepting of my reverse-traditional, nonreligious family. But I found one that was secular so I went with them.