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Skila Brown and her husband talked about being adoptive parents even before they married.
"Unlike many couples who adopt, we didn't arrive here after a battle with infertility. It was just something we wanted to do," says Brown.
Having been through the process three times, the Browns quickly learned the importance of thoroughly researching adoption. They are the adoptive parents of three boys, now ages 3, 5 and 7.
"My advice for anyone considering adoption is to research, research, research," Brown says. "There are virtually no monitoring agencies when it comes to adoptions. In other words, no checks and balances. Agencies who deceive people, commit fraud and take money are in the news constantly."
Because the process can be overwhelming, it's important that those considering adoption know what they're getting into. There are currently a wide variety of options for and paths to adopting a child.
If you're considering adoption, you first need to decide if you want to adopt a child from within the United States or take part in an international adoption. The Browns chose international adoption. Their three sons were born in Guatemala.
"We knew we wanted to adopt a child from Latin America, since my husband is fluent in Spanish. Guatemala was an easy choice."
Costs of foreign adoption range from $15,000 to $30,000 depending on the country you choose, Brown says. She adds that there is a federal adoption tax credit for those who are eligible, as well as numerous grants for which potential adoptive parents can apply.
To learn more about the adoption credit, visit the IRS website. The credit is available for adoption expenses, including adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel expenses. For those who qualify, there is a tax credit of up to $11,650. (The credit is based on modified adjusted gross income and applies to the 2008 tax year.) According to Adoption.com, adoptive parents must decide if they want to use an adoption agency or do a private adoption, with the assistance of an adoption attorney. Because adoption laws vary by state, it's important that potential adoptive parents familiarize themselves with the adoption laws governing their state.
"Only after thoroughly investigating an agency or an attorney would I proceed," Brown says.
As for the duration of the adoption process, that can vary widely. For the Browns, the shortest adoption took four months; the longest took 13 months. Her sons came home at the ages of 7 months, 5 months and 4 1/2 years old.
"International adoption is known for being unpredictable," Brown says. "It's not for control freaks. The wait can take much longer than you would expect, as situations can change in a country at any moment."
While adopting a child can be challenging, countless rewards come to those who open their hearts and homes to a child in need. As a well-known adoption quote goes, "You didn't grow under my heart, but in it."
About the Author
Freelance writer Margaret H. Evans lives in Bountiful, Utah, with her husband and four children. She has been writing and editing professionally since 1989. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online.