When moving from infertility to adoption, a couple’s first question is often whether they want to adopt a baby or an older child.
Certain methods of adoption – private domestic, state foster care or international – are better tailored for one or the other, as described below:
Adopting a Baby:
Private Domestic: If you are interested in adopting a baby, a private domestic adoption will usually help you reach your adoption goals the fastest.
A study by the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) shows that in 2007, private adoption agencies and attorneys completed approximately 17,000 infant adoptions, the most out of the three methods of adopting. 1
Many non-public domestic adoption professionals, such as American Adoptions, specialize solely in the adoption of newborns, making the adoption process more efficient than ever before.
State Foster Care: Adopting a newborn through the state foster care system is rare, but these adoptions still occur from time to time.
According to a study by the Administration for Children & Families (AFCARS), of the 252,694 children who left the state foster care system in 2010, 52,340 (21 percent) of them were adopted. Only 1,126 were babies less than 1 year old. 2
Few babies are available for adoption through foster care because the system is designed for reintegration with the birth parents once they are rehabilitated. It is common for foster parents to foster a baby or child for months, or even years, before he or she is placed back with the birth family.
International: Newborns are also becoming more difficult to adopt internationally.
In 2007, 19,471 children were adopted internationally, and 7,789 were less than 1 year old. In 2009, children adopted internationally dropped significantly to 12,782, and only 3,208 were babies less than 1 year old. 1
As other countries continue to restrict international adoptions, these figures are expected to further decline.
Adopting an Older Child:
Private Domestic: More than 99 percent of women considering adoption do so while pregnant. It is very rare for a woman to voluntarily place an older child for adoption.
This is why American Adoptions and most other private domestic adoption professionals specialize in the adoption of newborn babies.
State Foster Care: In the United States, most adoptions of older children are through the state foster care system. In 2010 there were 52,340 total adoptions through the state, with children ranging from less than 1 year old to 20 years old. 2
However, in most circumstances couples interested in state adoption first need to become foster parents. It takes a special person to be a foster parent, because as previously stated, the goal of the state foster care system is to reintegrate the child with the birth family. Foster parents must prepare to raise a child for months or years knowing that he or she may not be a part of their family forever.
Clearly, the role of foster parents is much greater than simply wanting to adopt through the state foster care system. A family should only become foster parents for the betterment of foster children’s lives, and not necessarily for the sole purpose of adopting. But that doesn’t mean foster parents can’t hope to one day adopt a foster child.
As an added benefit, adopting through the state costs families relatively little in adoption fees.
International: Families interested in adopting an older child may find international adoption the most attractive option, as almost 13,000 children of all ages were adopted internationally in 2010. 1
However, an international adoption may cost an adoptive family between $25,000 and $60,000, depending on the child’s country of origin.
When moving from infertility and toward adoption, American Adoptions always recommends that families do their own research before deciding which method of adoption is best for them.
1 The National Council for Adoption. (2011). Adoption Factbook V. The National
Council for Adoption
2 The AFCARS Report. (2011). Retrieved June 13, 2012, from
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