The Adoption Process: Some First Steps

Venessa NunnBy Venessa Nunn, PH Caregiver

As an adoption and foster care worker for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in the state of Kentucky, I receive calls on a daily basis from people who are looking to complete their family. Many of the calls are from couples who cannot conceive for medical reasons. Many people with chronic illness worry that they will be denied the opportunity to be an adoptive parent solely based on their diagnosis. The truth is, chronic illness makes the adoption process more difficult but not impossible.

What questions should PH patients consider before adopting?

When a pulmonary hypertension patient is considering adoption, there are many health-related factors to consider. First, you must think about the implications of your illness during different stages in a child’s life. Will you be physically able to lift an infant or toddler? Will you be able to keep pace with a child learning to crawl or walk? Will you have the energy to keep up with an older child and get involved in their activities and school functions? These questions are difficult but worth discussing in a candid conversation with your partner and PH specialist.

What additional steps do PH patients need to take when adopting?

Once you’ve determined that adoption is right for your family, the adoption process requires that you present proof that you’re in stable health to begin the process. A physical exam by your doctor is required, and PH patients usually need a special letter from their PH doctor confirming that you are physically capable of raising a child.

What type of adoption is right for your family?

Depending on where you live, state adoptions can offer the benefit of financial assistance. In Kentucky, the state agency pays adoptive families $1,000 to cover attorney fees, along with a monthly subsidy and a Medicaid card for the child’s healthcare costs until he or she turns 18. College assistance is also available for children adopted through the state agency. Financial assistance varies from state to state.

Other options include adoption through a private child care agency, independent adoption, relative adoption and international adoption. Most of these adoptions require fees for attorneys and agency services. Again, these options vary from state to state, so the best place to begin is by calling your state’s public adoption agency.

Where can you go to learn more?

Choosing adoption is not an easy decision or an easy process. However, if this is something that you feel strongly about, seek out resources that can help you make this decision. The National Foster Care & Adoption Directory is a searchable database of adoption and foster care resources by region.

Venessa Nunn is the spouse and caregiver to a PH patient. She has been employed as an adoption and foster care worker by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services since 1996.