@HonoraryNerd: It can take a while and I tend to feel that it is a good thing. Last thing anyone wants is for a baby to go to a family that doesn’t work out for some reason.
A lot of adoptions turn out well. I have several cousins that were adopted into my family (older and younger than me) and it never reallys occurs to me that they were adopted at all. I’ve actually had to ask my mom if one of my cousins was adopted several times, because I forget!
I don’t think it’s ever too early to start learning about the process. Other Bees should be able to offer up reading material suggestions – I don’t have the personal experience, so I honestly can’t offer any recommendations. Starting to research now will also help you guys determine what type of adoption would be best for you, which may help you start the process a bit more easily down the road.
My only advice would be the following:
1. Be open and honest with everyone (including your potential child) that the little one was adopted. I’ve heard that it makes it a lot easier for the kid to process who they are and where they come from when they know all along that they were adopted.
2. Under no circumstances should you consider the child your’s until every single paper is signed, stamped, and approved in a court. Even then, don’t think of the kid as your’s until the period of time granted to the biological parents to change their minds expires (the amount of time varies from state to state). This part can be incredibly difficult for a lot of adoptive parents, but it’s important that the bio parents have the chance to change their minds.
3. Make sure you only work with respectable lawyers and agencies that have excellent reputations. There are people who see adoption as a chance to make a lot of money and who use less than ethical or legal means to secure the desired result for their client – a child. Not all of them by any means, just be cautious when choosing who you are going to work with.
4. Finally, keep in mind that some children may face additional criteria when you seek to adopt them. I know that when it comes to Federally recognized Native Tribes, their children are subject to additional laws and regulations when they are put up for adoption – for example, Tribal Courts are supposed to have jurisdiction over the children of tribal members placed for adoption – it is a way to ensure that Cultural traditions and values are passed down through the generations. They then decide one of three things (in order of importance):
A. To place the child with a biological family member willing to raise the child.
B. To place the child with a member of the same Tribe who is willing to raise them (I don’t recall whether they consider members of other Tribes as well, but they might).
C. To consent to the adoption of the child by Non-Tribal members.
Whatever you guys decide, I wish you all the best! Adoption can be a beautiul way to build a family; just have patience.