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Being Adopted

What's Adoption?

How is a family created? Often, we think of families being made when a woman gives birth to a child. But adoption is another way families are created. Adoption means a legal process that allows someone to become the parent of a child, even though the parent and child are not related by blood.

In other words, a woman and man are not the kid's "birth parents." The child did not grow inside the woman's body. But in every other way, adoptive parents are the child's parents. By going through this legal process of adoption, they are promising to take care of the child and make him or her part of their family.

Being a parent is a lot of work, but having a family also makes grownups very happy. Kids make almost anything more fun, so it's no wonder people want to have them in their lives.

Some people choose to adopt because they have medical problems that make it impossible for them to have their own biological (say: bi-oh-law-jih-kal) children. Some single adults, although they don't have a partner or don't want to get married, really want to be parents.

Other kids might get adopted when one of their parents remarries. The new husband or wife might adopt the kids as a way to show that they are all one family now.

It often takes a lot of time and effort to adopt a child. Some people wait for years to adopt a baby. Adopting a child is not like shopping for a new coat. You don't just pick one off the rack and take it home.

How Does Adoption Work?

Adoptions are usually handled by a government agency or a private group. These groups work hard to investigate the people who say they want to adopt a child. Before letting them adopt a child, adoption workers need to find out a lot of stuff about the adoptive couple. They would want to know if either of them had ever done anything wrong, like committing a crime. They do not want kids to be adopted by people who might not take good care of them.

The adoptive couple also has to meet with social workers and others to explain why they want to adopt a child. They're also asked other questions to find out how they feel about kids and how they might solve problems, such as arguments, that happen in every family. The agency wants to be sure that children are adopted into homes where they will grow up happy and loved.

It's good that many people want to adopt kids, but why do kids need to be adopted? Most kids are not adopted. They grow up with their birth parents. But sometimes, a woman gives birth when she is young and before she's able to take good care of the baby. Other times, when babies are adopted from other countries, and the baby's mom could be older and might even have other children already.

Why Do Kids Need to Be Adopted?

Babies are big responsibilities. You need to have enough money for the diapers, clothes, and other supplies the baby will need. A parent also must be willing to work very, very hard. Parents need to wake up in the middle of the night when the baby needs to eat.

They also can't go out with their friends any time they want. Why? Because someone needs to watch the baby. And it can be hard for someone to have a baby and still be in school or college. Even if a woman is willing to care for the baby, raising a child might be very hard — or even impossible — if the woman is poor and lives in a poor country.

It's a very hard choice, but some women decide their babies would have better lives if they lived with adoptive parents. Often, adoptive parents are older and better able to handle the responsibilities that come with being someone's mom or dad.

In some cases, an older child may be adopted because his or her birth parents tried to take care of him or her, but did a poor job. The child may have been abused or neglected and it was decided that a new home was needed. Sometimes a child lives with a foster family for a while before being adopted.

With some adoptions, the birth mother or father can stay involved in the kid's life. That doesn't mean the kid would live with the birth mom or dad, but the kid might see him or her once in a while or exchange letters or photographs. Other times, the kid doesn't get to see his or her birth parents.

No matter how this works out, it can be hard to understand. Kids may feel sad about it and have a lot of questions. Don't be afraid to talk about your feelings. Talk with your parents, or if you can't do that, try another relative or even a school counselor.

If You Were Adopted

Kids who were adopted are no different from other kids. But if you were adopted, you might have a little more on your mind than your friends. Sometimes, learning you were adopted can make it hard for you to pay attention in school.

Many kids who were adopted wonder about their birth parents and why they didn't keep them. They may wonder where they came from and what nationalities they are. They might wonder if they look like their birth parents and what their relatives are like. They might think about this stuff a lot, even if they really love their adoptive parents.

You might have questions if your family includes kids who were adopted and kids who weren't. Unfortunately, someone might say that you are not your parents' "real" kid, but that is not true. Adoption makes you a real son or daughter. Again, being able to talk about your feelings can help!

Reviewed by: Richard S. Kingsley, MD
Date reviewed: January 2011