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When looking at adoption, many couples' first option is often to look for the possibility of adopting an infant. This allows the couple a better chance of raising the child as their own without any influence from foster homes or the birth parents. However, adopting an infant can be substantially more difficult than adopting an older child who is currently in a foster care home.
The first noticeable difference in adopting an infant versus an older child is the wait period between applying for an adoption and receiving your child. Wait times can vary between 6 months and as long as 2 years.
The requirements that must be met before a couple can adopt an infant are much harder to obtain than for an older child. This is largely because there are so few infants available for adoption. In the past, waiting lists or first-come-first-served rules applied across the board for infants and older children. However, this is no longer the case. Potential parents for infants face a much stricter review process, and many couples are denied the opportunity to adopt a newborn every year but are allowed to adopt older children.
Costs associated with adopting a newborn are also significantly higher. According to the Adoption Network, the average cost to adopt a newborn can be three times as much as the cost of adopting a child.
When adopting an older child from a foster care system, you usually deal with public or government agencies. However, because infants have not been placed in the custody of the foster system, special interim agencies negotiate the terms and process of the infant adoption. These agencies are usually licensed by the state. However, in some states there are unlicensed agencies that offer the same services. These agencies do pose an additional risk to the potential couple because they are not overseen by any government agencies.
Some couples choose independent adoption as a way to adopt a newborn. This involves the couple working with a lawyer who specialises in the legal issues of adoption who will facilitate the process and the interaction between you and the birth parent. This allows a much quicker process in many cases, and in some instances even puts the child in the hands of the new family within 24 to 48 hours after the birth.