Adopting Parents

ParentsWhich Adoption is Right for You?

There are three types of adoption: agency, private, and international.

A domestic agency adoption involves adopting through a licensed child-placing agency. A public agency is a local department of social service which handles foster care and adoption with minimal cost to adoptive parents, while a private agency is licensed to place children for adoption by the state where it is situated, with varying fees. Agency adoption is a two-step process. The first step is the termination of parental rights, which gives the agency guardianship of the child and allows the agency to consent to the adoption. The second step occurs when the agency consents to the adoption and the adoption is finalized in court by the adoptive parents.

A private or independent adoption involves a direct placement between the birth mother and the adoptive parent without the use of an agency and no agency fees. State laws governing private adoption vary dramatically, including how an adoptive parent can locate a birth mother and what expenses can be paid in an adoption. With the Internet becoming the central way people research information, advertising online to locate a birth mother has become one of the most popular tools in private adoption, but is not permitted under the laws of some states. 

An international adoption is an adoption of a child born in a foreign country. The adoptive parents obtain a homestudy in the state where they reside, file the necessary paperwork with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and then pursue an adoption in accordance with the laws of the foreign country. These adoptions are primarily handled by an agency.

It is important to consult with an attorney prior to beginning your adoption journey in order to understand which method of adoption is right for you and to ensure that you comply with the laws in your state so that your adoption is safe and can be finalized legally in your state.

Tips for Choosing an Adoption Attorney

  • Contact an attorney as early as possible in the decision-making process.
  • Choose an attorney who is experienced in the type of adoption you are considering.
  • Understand the estimated total cost of the adoption, including the attorney’s fees.
  • Learn about the specific types of adoptions and services the attorney provides.
  • Ask what percentage of the practice is dedicated to adoption and how many adoption proceedings the attorney has handled.
  • Ask lots of questions, share your concerns, and provide the attorney with all relevant documents and information that could affect qualifying to adopt.