Adoption is a legal process that allows parents to welcome a new child into their life. It can be an emotional and stressful process even for those prepared to handle the situation. Adoption is meant to be a lifetime commitment for the families involved, and it is important to research the process as much as possible before heading down a particular adoption path.
There are several different types of adoption that you may want to consider as you think about growing your family. Some are more common than others and more available to the public.
Before deciding on a certain way of adoption, it is crucial to learn about all the different types. It can better equip you to choose the type of adoption that will be best for you. Simply stated, the kind that works best for you and your family will depend on your desires and circumstances. Below is a general overview of the different types of adoptions available.
What Is Agency Adoption?
Adoption agencies are a public agency or private agency that is regulated by the state and licensed to place children with prospective adoptive parents.
Public adoption agencies usually handle children who are wards of the state because they have been abandoned, orphaned, abused, or are older children. They often place sibling groups of children.
In domestic adoptions, private adoption agencies are most often run by charities and social service organizations, and they place children who have been brought to the agency by parents or expectant parents seeking to give their child up for adoption. They primarily work with babies and toddlers.
Adoption agencies act as intermediaries. Instead of placing a child directly with the people who want to adopt her baby, the birth mother will place the child in the legal care of the agency. Then, the agency will select or decide on the adoptive parent(s). Sometimes, the birth mother will not know who the adoptive parents are. In other cases, the birth mother will have a role in the selection process; this is more common in private agencies. In addition to caring for the child during the placement, the agency will also manage the paperwork, screening, counseling, and other services related to the adoption.
In any agency adoption, the prospective parents will be put on a waitlist. When their name is next on the list, their adoption will begin. Waitlists can be several years long. This is one of the most serious downsides to agency adoption.
What Is Adopting Independently?
Another type of adoption involves a direct arrangement between the birth mother (and sometimes the birth father) and the adoptive parents. Typically, the birth mother places an advertisement while she is still pregnant, and couples or individuals contact her to apply to be the adoptive parents. She will screen as many people as it takes for her to choose. Because you won’t have the assistance of an adoption agency, it is strongly advised that you seek out a private attorney to handle the paperwork for the adoption to ensure that no mistakes are made. Remember that not all states allow independent adoptions, and many regulate them extensively. Check your local state’s laws before opting for this type of adoption.
While the defining feature of independent adoptions is the lack of agency involvement, sometimes agencies may be involved in smaller ways. Most states require that an adoption professional perform a “home study.’ This is a detailed investigation of the prospective parents and their reasons for adopting their maturity, ability to provide for a child, lack of a criminal background, and such things as the size of their home and where the child will be housed. Prospective parents can contact an adoption agency to hire them to conduct the study.
What Is Open Adoption?
Traditional adoptions are “closed.” This means that the birth family and the adoptive family will never meet and will not know each others’ names, where they live, or any other information about them. This applies to the relationship between the birth mother and the child – they will know nothing about each other once the adoption is final, including the original birth certificate.
One variety of independent adoption is referred to as “open adoption,” where the biological parents maintain some sort of limited contact even after the adoption is final. The adoptive parents hold all parental rights, but the birth mother has a contractual right to see the child at some intervals (perhaps once a year) or to receive information about how the child is doing in school, medically, and in other ways.
During the adoption process, the birth and adoptive families will agree to the kind of continuing relationship that will happen after the adoption. For example, some adoptive parents may agree to send a picture and letter monthly. Other adoptive parents may permit frequent visitation with the birth family. The agreement will vary by each case because it will depend on what each party desires and what they determine is best for the child.
In many cases, the adoptive parents may be friends, relatives, or someone else whom the birth parents know.
Open adoptions are becoming more popular as studies show better outcomes for all parties involved. Unlike in a standard adoption, children in an open adoption do not feel that their birth family rejected them, and when they are old enough, they can learn why they were placed for adoption. As the biological and adoptive families get to know each other, the common fear on the part of adoptive parents that the birth parents will someday challenge the adoption is relieved.
What are Identified Adoptions?
Identified adoptions are a blend of independent and agency adoptions. The birth mother and the adoptive parent find each other, and then both sets of parents ask an adoption agency to control the rest of the process.
The benefit of a straight agency adoption is there is no “waitlist” for the adoptive parents. The parents are confident that the agency will make the adoption of their chosen child happen. The prospective parents have control over choosing the child they adopt, as in an independent adoption, and still benefit from the counseling and professional services provided by an agency.
What Is Adopting Internationally?
International adoptions are when adoptive parents adopt a child born in a different country.
International adoption is one of the most complicated of all the different types of adoption. Inter-country laws, such as the Hague Convention, govern the process to ensure that the adoption is in the child’s best interest. Furthermore, you must meet both the laws of the state you live in and the host country’s laws. The child will be adopted first in their birth country and then re-adopted in the U.S. state where they go to live.
If adoption is allowed, parents must obtain an immigrant visa for the child through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the visa is approved, the child will be granted U.S. citizenship immediately upon entering the U.S.
What Are Facilitated Adoptions?
Facilitated adoptions are one of the controversial types of adoption. They are adoptions that utilize an unlicensed intermediary as a “matchmaker” between the birth and adoptive parents. Some states restrict facilitated adoptions, but others regulate the circumstances in which facilitators can function. In most ways, facilitated adoptions are like private adoptions, but the birth parents select the adoptive parents through advertising or a non-agency facilitator.
When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?
If you are considering adoption and want to decide what type will work best for you, consulting with a local adoption attorney for any guidance on the process may be useful. The lawyer will know what types of adoptions are allowed in your state and what special requirements are for the less common forms of adoption. Some lawyers serve as adoption facilitators and thus can help you find a child.