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Problems With Child Adoption

By Maggie Lynn ; Updated June 13, 2017

Adoption is a major life event for adoptive parents, children, birthparents, siblings and extended family members. Unfortunately, there are several issues that can lead to financial, legal, medical and emotional problems. Learn about these potential problems to gain realistic expectations of the process. This information will help you plan for and deal with the issues so you can maximize the positives.

Financial Challenges

Consider the financial aspect of adoption early in your planning process. According to, adoption can cost anywhere from zero to more than $30,000. Adopting through a domestic public agency is much less expensive than adopting through a private agency. Adoption of a child from a foreign country will likely cost the most. The type of adoption, location, agency fees, legal fees, possible expenses of the birthparents, and potential tax credits, benefits, or government subsidies are all factors to consider when estimating the total cost of adoption. Your adoption preferences and personal financial situation will determine the extent of financial burden, if any, the adoption process will produce.

Legal Rights of Birthparent

The Department of Health and Human Services states that several national legal cases involving adoption were due to the birthfather’s legal rights. You may be in the process of adopting a child from a birthmother who would like to relinquish parental rights to you. Perhaps you have already adopted a child and are emotionally attached. If the birthfather was unaware of the situation and finds out, he may try to contest the adoption and gain parental rights. While you are in the adoption process, discuss the father’s status with your attorney and analyze this risk to help your decision. Health and Human Services explains that fewer than 1 percent of adoptions are contested. Despite the unlikely scenario, knowing the risk can help you and everyone involved avoid heartbreak.

Medical Issues

Lack of information on an adopted child’s health or potential medical issues can lead to problems. This may be an issue in closed adoptions where you have no knowledge of a birthparent's medical history or prenatal care, or when adopting an infant who has special needs that are not yet apparent. KidsHealth warns that it is common for a child to experience a minor illness upon the transition of adoption due to exposure to different germs and the introduction of different foods. Children adopted internationally may have more severe issues, such as malnourishment, lice, parasites, lead poisoning or tuberculosis.

Emotional Problems

Adoption can create emotional problems. A newly adopted child may struggle with the transition and act out (tantrums, aggression), have difficulty sleeping, or develop strange eating habits. Child Welfare Information Gateway states that adopted children may be depressed and struggle with low self-esteem. As an adoptive parent, you may also feel depressed or discouraged if you are not bonding with your adoptive child as quickly or in the manner you expected. Counseling, time and communication can help smooth the emotional transitions following an adoption.

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