There are many children out there who need a home and parents to love and raise them.

Deciding to adopt is a big decision. It would completely change both your life and the life of the child. It’s a noble thing to do but it’s also something you need to carefully consider.

Adopting is very different from falling pregnant and having your own baby. Here are some things you should carefully consider before deciding to adopt a child:

Are you prepared to wait?

Adopting a child doesn’t just happen overnight. You don’t send in an application online and they deliver a child the next day. You may have to be on a waiting list for months or even years.

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There’s a stack of paperwork and you have to be okay with having your entire personal life scrutinised … and then they need to inspect your home and interview you. The whole process can take months and years and you need to be happy with the time it takes to get everything sorted.

Are you willing to adopt an older child?

Older children are less likely to be adopted because people want a cute little baby to raise, but older children need a home too.

In fact, there are more older children who need homes because many people prefer to add their names to waiting lists for babies. And it’s not simply because babies are cuter. It’s because adopting an older child can be far more difficult. You have no idea of their background and the hardships or experiences they’ve been through.

If you are willing to adopt an older child, you must be emotionally prepared. Which brings us to the next point.

Are you emotionally prepared?

When you have a baby through pregnancy, you have nine months to bond with the baby and emotionally prepare. When you adopt, you don’t get that time. Although you do have time to think about it as you wait for everything to happen, it’s different.

And, as in the previous point, if you adopt an older child, you need to be emotionally prepared for a lot. A child who has come from an abusive home may find it difficult to acclimatise to your household.

They may have abandonment or trust issues. You need to be able to cope with that and help them grow and feel comfortable and loved.

If you’re looking at adoption in South Africa, you should consider the above points seriously before you start the process.