Adoption is a legal process that allows parents to welcome a new family member into their life. It can be an emotional and stressful process if you are not 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 signing the adoption papers. Generally, there are several different types of adoption which you may want to consider as you think about growing your family.

Some are more common than others and more available for the public. Before deciding on a certain way of adoption, it is crucial to learn about all the other types. It can better equip you as the parent for the adoption process. Simply stated, the kind that works best for you and your family will mostly depend on your desires and circumstances. Below is a general overview of the types of different adoptions available.

What is Adopting Through an Agency?

Adoption agencies are a public agency or a 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 or abused, or are older children. However, the private adoption agencies are mostly run by charities and social service organizations and place children who have been brought to the agency by parents or expectant parents seeking to give their child up for adoption.

Moreover, the private and public adoption agencies act as intermediaries in the adoption process. Instead of placing a child directly with the adoptive family, the birth mother will give the child to the agency. Then, the agency will select or decide on the adoptive parent(s). The birth family may or may not have a part in the selection process depending on each case. In some cases, the birth mother may not even know who the adoptive parents are. The agency will also manage the paperwork, screening, counseling, and other services related to the adoption.

What is Adopting Independently?

Another type of adoption involves a direct arrangement between birth mother (and sometimes the birth father) and adoptive parents. In these cases, sometimes a doctor or member of the clergy is involved. Because of the delicate nature of independent adoption, it is advised to seek out a private attorney to handle the paperwork for the adoption to ensure there are no loopholes. Keep in mind that not all states may allow independent adoptions, and many states regulate them extensively, therefore checking your local state’s laws before exploring this option is a good idea.

What is Open Adoption?

One variety of independent adoption is referred to as “open adoption,” where the biological parents maintain some sort of limited contact even after adoption. But it is important to note that all parental rights stay with the adoptive parents. Open adoptions are when the birth mother, perhaps with the assistance of the birth father, personally selects the adoptive parents and places the child with them. These are also called private adoptions. The adoptive parents may be friends, relatives, or someone else whom the birth parents are acquainted with.

The majority of the states permit private adoptions, but not all of them. While the defining feature of private adoptions is the lack of agency involvement, sometimes agencies may be involved in smaller more discrete ways. In order to adhere with the legal requirements, in some scenarios the adoption agencies will need to get involved to do home studies and other screening.

Open adoptions are becoming more popular as studies show better outcomes for all of the parties involved. During the adoption process, the birth and adoptive families will come to an agreement about the kind of continuing relationship that will happen after the adoption. For example, some adoptive parents may agree to send a picture and letter a month. 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 from the visitations.

What is Adopting Through Identification?

Identified adoptions are a blend of independent and agency adoptions. Usually, the adoptive parents locate a mother wanting to place a child up for adoption, and then both sets of parents ask an adoption agency to control the rest of the process. This process consists of a home study, questions, interviews, and careful analysis.

The benefit over a straight agency adoption is there is no “waitlist” for the adoptive parents. Additionally, the prospective parents can have greater control over choosing the child they adopt and still benefit from the counseling and professional services covered by an agency. Identified adoptions are similar to private adoptions, in the sense that the birth parents select, or “identify,” the adoptive parents. The major difference between the two is that with identified adoptions, an agency takes a greater role.

Generally, an identified adoption is the same as an agency adoption except that the birth parents are in control of deciding who adopts the child. The agency also handles the administrative aspects of the adoption.

What is Adopting Internationally?

Adopting internationally is the one of the most complicated of all the different types of adoption. In order to adopt a child who is a citizen of a foreign country, you must meet both the laws of the state you live in as well as the laws of the host country. Parents must have 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.

International adoptions are when adoptive parents adopt a child who was born in a different country. Furthermore, there are also international laws, such as the Hague Convention, that govern the process with regard to ensuring that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. Also, foreign countries may change their adoption laws without notice during the process, which can create more stress or delays.

What is 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 parents and the adoptive parents. Some states restrict facilitated adoptions, but other states 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 and your spouse are considering adoption and would like to decide what legal method works best for you. It may be useful to start looking up the local adoption laws and consult with a local adoption attorney for any guidance with the process. Adoption is a live changing event for all parties involved. Therefore, it is crucial to determine all your options and make a decision that best serves the circumstances of all parties involved.

Mentioned above are several types of adoptions that are permitted in the U.S and internationally. There are some benefits to choosing one over the other but it mainly depends on your situation and what you are willing to do for the adoption process.