American Adoptions is one of many national adoption agencies that complete adoptions from beginning to end by offering a wide range of valuable adoption services.
However, these “agency adoptions” aren’t the only way for families or pregnant mothers to pursue adoption. There is another type of adoption called “independent adoption,” a private domestic adoption without the use of an adoption agency.
The following explains how you may adopt without using an agency, and the benefits and challenges offered by independent adoptions.
Because independent adoptions do not involve an agency to conduct each step of the adoption process, several other professionals must be employed to complete the process:
Adoption Attorney – Required to legally terminate parental rights of the birth parents and to legally finalize the adoption
Home Study Provider – Required to conduct a home study for the adoptive family to make them legal to adopt
Counselor – Recommended for the birth mother to have someone she can talk to throughout the adoption process
Media Specialist – Recommended for the adoptive family to create their adoptive family profile and perhaps a video profile to show to prospective birth mothers
One of the most common reasons for a woman to pursue an independent adoption is when she has already located an adoptive family. Then the only requirement to legally complete the adoption is the legal termination of her and the birth father’s parental rights – but this does not, however, include many important services offered by adoption agencies, including support, counseling, family screening, adoption planning, and much more.
There is a middle ground between both an agency adoption and an independent adoption, which is known as an “identified adoption.” An identified adoption is when a birth mother has already found an adoptive family, but wants an adoption agency like American Adoptions involved in the process to provide the same valuable services found in an agency adoption.
If a woman decides to not include an adoption agency, her first call should be to a reputable adoption attorney in her state. He or she will go over her rights, discuss the birth father situation, and review the next steps required to proceed with the adoption. If she has yet to find an adoptive family, the adoption attorney may help her find a match by referring her to a family he or she is already working with or referring her to an adoption agency solely for the matching step of the adoption process.
And remember, as with all types of private domestic adoptions, independent adoption is also free for birth mothers.
Adoptive families often find that independent adoptions are more challenging than agency adoptions. The “one-stop shop” nature found with adoption agencies, where each step of the adoption process is taken care of by a professional, is absent in independent adoptions.
Oftentimes in independent adoptions, the adoptive family assumes the role of coordinator for each step of their adoption process. Whether the adopting parents want this responsibility or would rather an agency coordinate the adoption process will help them decide which type of adoption is right for their family.
If an adoptive family needs to find a birth mother but doesn’t want to use an adoption agency, they must network within their community, advertise themselves online and in newspapers (if legal in their state), and tell every one they possibly can that they want to adopt. And if they do find a woman interested in adoption, they still need to find a way to screen her to learn her medical background, commitment level, and make sure she isn’t a scammer.
For many families, the screening and matching process is the most difficult part of the adoption process and is one of the main reasons they choose to work with an adoption agency.
Clearly, independent adoption has it share of challenges that both prospective adoptive parents and birth mothers must accept and endure. However, independent adoptions do have various benefits as well, including:
Lower cost (on average) due to fewer people involved in the adoption
Get to know birth mother or adoptive family without agency involvement
Wait time for finding a match may be lower in certain situations
Independent adoption is less popular than agency adoptions because of the following reasons:
Must find a match independent of an adoption professional
No screening services prior to finding the match
Costs can quickly increase the longer it takes to find a match
Must find third-party counseling and support
No mediator for closed or semi-open adoption arrangements
Often no case manager coordinating the steps of the adoption process
Generally, an independent adoption is less expensive than an agency adoption, but it too comes with a cost.
In an independent adoption, the adoptive family must pay for all of the legal fees, medical expenses and any living expenses to the birth mother. Additional costs include advertising for a birth mother, providing her with adequate counseling, covering her travel costs, and much more. Generally, the only fee that is waved in an independent adoption is the adoption agency’s “agency fees,” which go toward many valuable services including support, counseling and case management.
It is up to you to decide if the lower cost of an independent adoption makes up for the responsibilities placed on you to find a match and ultimately finalize your adoption plan.
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