If you’re considering adopting a child or infant there are many things to consider. This is a matter that will affect you and your spouse individually, your marriage and any of your own children. The process is by no means instant so the better prepared you are, the less stressful the wait time, and the less stressful the wait time, the more prepared you will be to welcome the new member of your family in the best possible way. Following these 4 steps prior to starting the process can help.

Make Sure Everyone Involved Is on the Same Page

Your expectations for adoption, why you both want to do this and how it will change your lives is an important discussion. Make a list of restrictions. For example, if the child was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, you may not want to consider that adoption. If you already have children, once you are sure that you and your spouse feel comfortable with the idea, you need to approach any children who will be new siblings. Find out how they feel about the idea and their reasons for feeling the way they do.

Infant or Older Child

You and your spouse need to decide whether you want to adopt an infant or an older child. Depending on your ages, unless you’re under 45 you won’t be able to adopt any child under the age of five. Infant adoptions can take anywhere from two to seven years.

Private Adoption or Foster Care Adoption

The next step before beginning the actual process is to decide whether you want to adopt from a private adoption agency or from foster care. Foster care adoptions can be disappointing if the biological parents wish to have their child back after they’ve gone through their state’s required reintegration plans. The state will grant them the child. If you decided on an infant, the majority of foster children adopted are over the age of 3.

The Cost

Foster care adoptions are most often state-funded. Other cost factors are whether you are adopting within the US or outside of it. International adoptions are the most expensive with private US agencies close behind or equal in expense.

Once you’ve completed these steps you should be ready to start the adoption process. Adoption can be a rewarding experience for all. Like any other parenting, it will have its joys, sorrows, rewards and disappointments.