A couple that struggles for a long time to get pregnant, perhaps even undergoing fertility treatments without managing to conceive, may consider the idea of adopting a child. Many people affected by infertility see adoption as a last resort for a having a family, but this is not always the case. Some couples prefer adoption, perhaps for health reasons, over an invasive fertility treatment such as IVF. Whatever your reasons for considering adoption, you need to think very carefully about your motives, your lifestyle and your long-term ability to provide a safe and loving home for a child who is not biologically yours.

Bonding With Adopted Children

Many couples believe it will be easier to bond with a newborn adopted child than with an older child. This is just one reason why the majority of prospective adopting parents prefer to adopt young babies. This is not always easy to arrange, however. Your adoption agency should discuss all these issues with you at length. There are a great many older children without parents who need loving homes. Approach your adoption agency with an open mind, but remember that if you pass the stringent criteria, the decision as to which child you adopt will be made jointly by the agency, you and the child (if he or she is old enough to give an opinion).

If you do consider adopting an older child, any reputable adoption agency will arrange for a "settling in period" in which the child spends time in your home, building up to longer and longer stays, before he or she comes to live you full time. Think carefully about the ability of both you and your partner to accept and love the child.

Legal Issues

Adoption is often a very complex legal process. Couples are therefore advised to seek legal advice, and to use an official adoption agency. Some people are tempted to try and organize a private adoption, with a young women, for example, who's pregnant but isn't able to care for her baby. While some adoptions of this kind are very successful and work out well for everyone concerned, there have been cases in which one or more of the parties to the agreement back out on their obligations. If you do hope to adopt in this way, make sure that it's legal, first of all (laws about this vary from country to country and from state to state within the United States), and make sure that you have a clear legal contract drawn up and signed by all parties, under the supervision of an attorney.

Biological Parents

The accepted thinking today is that it's best to be honest with adopted children about the fact that they have been adopted - this is especially true if family and friends know about the adoption. Deciding when and how to talk to your child about this issue is not easy. You may have to face the prospect of your child wanting to make contact with his or her biological parents. You will need to be supportive of your child at this time, but you may need some support yourself to cope with the emotions and fears you may experience at this time.

International Adoption

There are a number of reasons why a couple might decide to adopt a child abroad - not least the duration of the adoption process at home. There are many issues you need to be aware of when considering international adoption - not least the reliability of adoption agencies which are not regulated by the laws of your home country. Bringing a child from a non-Western culture into Western society can also have consequences (both good and bad) for his or her development and sense of identity.

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