There are many different ways to bring a child into your life and to establish a legal relationship with this new family member through adoption.
In most states in the U.S., an adult can also adopt another adult as long as there is at least ten years difference between the two, and the parties can show that the adoption is in the interests of both parties and the public good.
Below are some common questions about ways that people can adopt babies and children in the United States.
What is the difference between an agency and independent adoption?
An adoption agency is an office, a court, or another entity that is authorized under the laws or statues of a particular jurisdiction (such as a state or commonwealth) that performs various functions of the adoption process. An adoption agency can be a public or a private agency that is licensed and regulated by the state (or other jurisdiction) where the adoption takes place.
In an independent adoption, often referred to as a private adoption, there is no agency involved even though sometimes an agency will help with part of the process. Independent adoptions can involve the adoptive parent(s) making a direct arrangement with the the birth parent(s), as well as them making arrangements with an intermediary such as an attorney, doctor, or clergyperson. Many times, regardless of the type of adoption they are in the process of, the adoptive parents will use an attorney to file all of the court paperwork to ensure that the adoption is completed correctly.
What is an “open” adoption?
The term “open adoption” does not have a clear cut definition but in the broadest sense, it is one where both the adoptive and birth parents share identifiable as well as contact information more openly than in a more traditional “closed adoption”.
Many open adoptions start off with a relationship between the birth and adoptive parents prior to or during the gestation period but not always. Some open adoptions simply state that the adopted child has access to information and permission to contact their birth parent(s) when they become a certain age whereas, other open adoptions involve the adoptive family maintaining a relationship with the birth parent(s) that often include anywhere from regular visits, to just phone calls on holidays and special occasions. There are many different variations that can be decided upon by the individuals involved in the open adoption.
Where in the world can you find a baby to adopt?
There are many different ways to adopt a baby or child that is born in the United States and there are many different ways to adopt a baby or child that is born in another country. There are both private and public agencies in the United States that place U.S. born children, as well as other avenues for people to follow when they are trying to make their families more complete. There are also many different agencies in the U.S. that work with agencies and organizations in other countries to help U.S. based families adopt children who are from other parts of the world. As well, there are agencies in foreign countries that work directly with Americans.
For more information on legal questions and answers like these and more, visit the Law Education Center.