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What Are the Different Types of Adoption?

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In the U.S., those hoping to adopt have two basic options, whether choosing to adopt domestically (in the U.S.) or internationally (from another country):

Agency Adoptions

  • through the local public agency (also known as foster care, child welfare, social services);
  • through licensed private agencies (permissible in most states and many foreign countries).

Independent Adoptions

  • identified or designated adoptions where prospective adopting and prospective placing parents have located each other themselves (allowed in most States, and some agencies will assist with these placements);
  • using attorneys or other intermediaries defined by State law;
  • using adoption facilitators (allowed in only a few states and some foreign countries);
  • doing the work yourself (permitted for some international adoptions) with the aid of in-country assistance.

Since adoption laws in the state where you live govern your options, it is essential that you know what types of placements are allowed or not allowed by your state’s laws. If you pursue an adoption across state lines, you must comply with the laws in both states before the child can join your family. States have enacted legislation that governs how children can be placed across State lines (Interstate Compacts).

For international adoptions, your state laws, laws and regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS, formerly INS), the U.S. State Department, and the laws of the specific country will apply.

In weighing your options, you should evaluate your ability to tolerate risk. Of the options outlined above:
  • agency adoptions provide the greatest assurance of monitoring and oversight since agencies are required to adhere to licensing and procedural standards;
  • independent adoptions by attorneys at least provide assurance that attorneys must adhere to the standards of the Bar Association and some attorneys who specialize in adoption are members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, a professional membership organization with standards of ethical practice;
  • adoptive placements by facilitators offer the least amount of supervision and oversight. This does not mean that there are not ethical professionals with good standards of practice; it simply means there are few or no oversight mechanisms in place at this time.
In addition to risk factors above, other considerations in selecting the type of adoption you pursue can include:
  • costs
  • country restrictions (international adoptions)
  • open adoptions
  • child health
  • your age, marital status, sexual orientation, etc.

and others.


Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

Visitor Comments (13)
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.
Jan - 1 year ago
0 1 6
I'm waiting to adopt an adolescent. It can be frustrating but The Adoption Exchange has a lot of helpful information. #1
Julia - 1 year ago
0 1 4
It would be GREAT to adopt a child. I'm just waiting to be placed with the new member of the family! #2
Liz - 6 months ago
0 0 2
I was adopted when I was 6 weeks old and I have always wanted to know who my birth parents are. But I have no idea where to start since the adoption agency that I was adopted at has since closed down. And I am not sure if the hospital would still have my records. I really want to know who my real biological family is. #3
priscilla - 7 months ago
0 0 2
what steps in montana need to be yaken for my husband to adpt my daughter,,,,her dad commit suicide and she and my husband are loke father and daughter...want it to be official #4
Esther - 3 months ago
1 0 1
I'm seriously looking to adopt s baby just don't were to start #5
Guest - 3 months ago
0 0 0
In North Carolina, what steps do I take for my husband to adopt my daughter from another union, her father was killed before she was born, and my husband has been with her since she was 18 months old. #6
Cheryl R Jackson - 3 months ago
0 0 0
I am looking for the records of the adoption of Shiron J. (Wilson) Jackson. In the year of 1973 by myself and James H. Jackson,the lawyer on record is Robert Johnson #7
Paula Hurt - 2 months ago
0 1 0
I am researching my husband's family tree. We were told his grandfather, Albert Hurt (born 6-12-1905) was adopted. His birth father was a Foster. That is all we know. So if anyone has information on this event, we would appreciate the information. #8
Maxine - 3 months ago
1 0 0
My husband and I adopted a newborn child in 1970, under what was then referred to as a "gray adoption". We had the contact people that arranged for us to have the child, an attorney, and visits by the State Department of Adoption. We went to open court after the child was one year of age and had the adoption finalized in accordance with Utah State Law. My question is this: Did "Gray Market" adoptions occur often or was ours a special case. We knew the party that arranged for the birth mothers hospital stay and they knew our attorney. The adoption was sealed at the time and to my knowledge is still sealed. I'm now doing a thesis for college and would like to obtain whatever information you could supply on adoption practices in the 1970s. Thank you, I do appreciate any help you can give me. I remain, Sincerely, Maxine #9
Kathy - 10 months ago
0 1 1
I am wanting to adopt a young man of twenty who has resided with me for the last three years.He has been in the US since he was 14. #10
Stacy woodruff - 6 months ago
0 0 0
How do I adopt a child that has a mother and I'm with her?? #11
Sweets - 10 months ago
0 2 1
My girlfriend wants to adopt my son and I want her to, but I'm not sure of the laws on same-sex adoption. Sorry not sure if this is a comment or request for help. We are just trying to find help. #12
Heather perry - 1 year ago
3 1 3
I miss my nieces so much it's pretty sorry that I can't see them I don't know who has them #13
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