With November being National Adoption Awareness Month it's important for people to be educated on some of the different types of adoption. There are approximately 135,000 children adopted in the United States annually, with approximately 428,000 in foster care. Studies show that a third of Americans have considered adoption, yet only 2% have actually adopted a child. Adoption definitely isn't straightforward, and there are a multitude of ways that potential parents can adopt a child. There is definitely an adoption model that will fit every family and here are some of the more common methods.
Many hopeful adoptive parents will use an agency to facilitate their adoption. There are public and private adoption agencies that one can choose from and they're licensed and regulated by their respective state.
Public agencies can be foster care, welfare agencies or social services and in general deal with children who are wards of the state, FindLaw reports. Private agencies typically work with the adoptive parents and birth mothers to facilitate the adoption of newborns, but some are licensed to help with international adoption as well.
Independent adoption includes open adoption and it happens when the birth parents and the adoptive parents come to an agreement together to facilitate the adoption. With independent adoption it's important that the adoptive parents know what the adoption laws are in their state and what forms of adoption are allowed. In the case of an independent adoption it is highly suggested that the adoptive parents hire a lawyer to ensure they are following all the proper protocol and to ensure all paperwork has been completed.
In an open adoption there is typically some form of communication between the birth parents and the adoptive parents as well as the adopted child that is mandated in the adoption agreement. Contact can range from the exchange of pictures or letters to more direct contact including visits or phone calls, Adopt.org writes.
A closed adoption is the opposite of an open adoption in that there is no contact between the birth and adoptive families. Adoptive families in a closed adoption will only receive "non-identifying information about the child and birth family before he or she joins your family," and the adoption records will be sealed after the adoption is finalized. Whether that information will be available to the child after they turn 18 is dependant on a few factors, including the local laws and what was decided when the adoption was finalized.
International adoption isn't as popular as it once was thanks to tighter restrictions, but is still a viable option for those who are still looking to adopt a child. When adopting from a foreign country the adoptive parents have to meet the adoption requirements both of their state of residence as well as the country they are adopting from. Parents are required to obtain an immigrant visa for the child and FindLaw state that both parents must be US citizens and the child must be adopted jointly even if the couple is separated.
Foster Care Adoption
According to Adoption Network the median age of children adopted out of Foster Care is 8 years old. Foster care adoption is a great way for someone who simply wants to be a parent to open their home to a child in need who cannot be safely placed back with their birth parents. Adopting a child out of foster care is also more economical because the state often assumes the majority of the expenses and the criteria to adopt is often less strict than with traditional adoption. Age, marital status, sexual orientation and income, which are often factors in agency adoption will not necessarily become factors when adopting a child in foster care.
Adopting as a step-parent can be quite straightforward as long as all parties are in agreement including both birth parents. If a situation arises where one of the birth parents doesn't consent or can't be located to provide consent, lawyers will need to get involved. This could create a more time consuming and expensive adoption process than if all parties are in agreement.
Adoption Through Identification
An identified adoption is a combination of an agency adoption and an independent adoption. An identified adoption typically occurs when the adoptive parents find a birth mother looking to place her child in an adoptive family themselves. At that point the birth mother and adoptive parents will enlist the aid of an adoption agency to facilitate the adoption process, with the advantage being there is no 'wait list' for the adoptive parents. They are also aware of the child they are adopting and often times can be with the birth mother throughout her pregnancy to help in all areas of support.
If you have decided you want to adopt a child, you should consult a lawyer to ensure you know the options available to you and the costs associated with those options to make sure you are selecting the best fit for your family. There are a number of resources online to help get you started, but an adoption lawyer can help guide you in the right direction.
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