What are My Adoption Options?
Whether you’re a prospective birth parent or adoptive parent, considering adoption can be a difficult decision — especially when you have so many adoption options to choose from.
All of your choices can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve broken down some of your options here. Our adoption specialists are available to you at 1-800-ADOPTION to help you decide what your best choice for adoption is as you move forward.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to know:
Adoption Options for Prospective Adoptive Parents
As a prospective adoptive parent considering adoption, one of the first choices you’ll need to make is what kind of adoption you’d like to pursue. In this regard, you have several adoption options. It’s recommended you do extensive research before deciding on one type of adoption, as this decision will impact the rest of your adoption process.
You are the only one who can decide what kind of adoption is best for you and your family but, to get you started, here are the basics you should know about each process:
Adopting a child from within the United States may give you certain freedoms that international adoptions (see below) may not, including the ability to choose who you adopt from, how much contact you have with your child’s birth family in the future and what kind of adoption services you’ll receive before, during and after the adoption is complete.
When adopting a child domestically, you generally have three adoption options:
Private Domestic Adoption through an Agency:
In this kind of adoption, you will adopt a baby from a mother who makes an intentional adoption plan, usually while she is still pregnant. If you work with an adoption agency, you will likely be matched with an adoption opportunity based on your adoption preferences and requirements (including your budget, the race of the baby, the mother’s medical history, etc.)
While the level of services offered will differ based on the adoption professional you work with, many adoption agencies (like American Adoptions) will provide assistance from the beginning to the end of your process, including background screening and home studies, mediating contact between you and the prospective birth parents and providing counseling throughout the process.
Waiting times for private domestic adoption vary, but with American Adoptions, 75 percent of families complete their adoptions between one to 12 months after they’re activated. One of the greatest benefits of this kind of adoption is the possibility for open communication between prospective birth and adoptive parents — which will hold many benefits for the adopted child as years go by.
As a national adoption agency, American Adoptions works with all types of adoptive parents from across the United States. Although some states have recently passed or introduced legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to reject adoptive parents based on religious beliefs, sexual orientation or other factors, American Adoptions remains committed to promoting adoption options for all types of families, including Jewish, Muslim, interfaith and same-sex couples.
To get started with your private domestic adoption today, call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.
Independent Private Domestic Adoption:
If you already know a prospective birth mother and want to conduct the majority of your adoption by yourself, you might want to choose an independent adoption. Typically, these adoptions are completed with only the help of an adoption lawyer for finalization; the adoptive parents find a prospective birth mother, manage communication with her throughout the adoption process and are responsible for many of the other adoption services that an adoption professional would handle (including payment of living expenses, counseling for the birth mother, arranging a home study, etc.) all on their own.
Because adoptive families take on a great deal of responsibility with an independent adoption, you should make sure you’re ready for these challenges before choosing an independent adoption. If this responsibility gives you pause, you may be better off working with an adoption agency.
Foster Care Adoption
The final way you can adopt within the United States is through foster care adoption, where you can adopt one of thousands of children currently waiting for a permanent home in the U.S. foster care system. Many of these children have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their legal parents and are currently living in foster care until they are adopted.
Foster care is usually the fastest of your adoption options. Once you are approved (with a great deal of resources provided by your local social services department), you can choose a child who is ready to adopt — and placement will occur rather quickly. Therefore, foster care is a great option for families who want to adopt quickly and are open to older children who may have special emotional or developmental needs.
If you are interested in adopting a child from outside of the United States, you’ll need to understand that you will likely adopt a child from an orphanage, who may or may not be older and have physical, mental or emotional disabilities. International policies have created stricter rules regarding adoption across national borders in recent years, but it is still possible.
If you choose to adopt internationally, you may have to abide to the regulations of the Hague Convention, which safeguards intercountry adoptions and the children at the center of them. Your wait time will also vary dramatically based on which country you adopt from, and it may be difficult to estimate your adoption fees before beginning the process. In addition, you may not have the chance for an open adoption if you adopt internationally, and you may have limited access to your child’s medical and family history.
While international adoption certainly comes with its own challenges, it is still a viable possibility for prospective adoptive families. If you choose to adopt a child internationally, it’s important that you do substantial research about the processes involved and what to expect before you commit to this adoption option.
Adoption Options for Birth Parents
If you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption, it’s important to know that you are in charge of all of your adoption options from the moment you begin the process. Adoption can be emotionally difficult, so many adoption professionals (including American Adoptions) aim to make the process as easy as possible for expectant mothers like yourself. Because you are at the center of the adoption, your comfort is the most important aspect — which is why you have the ability to decide which adoption options best suit you.
When you place your child for adoption in the United States, you get to choose exactly what your adoption process will look like. We’ll describe some of your adoption options here, but remember that you can also call one of our adoption specialists 24 hours a day for free at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more.
When You Can Start Your Adoption
You can begin your adoption process at any time — when you first discover you’re pregnant, months into your pregnancy or even after your baby is born. Choosing adoption is not a decision that happens overnight, so you will always have the option of placing your child for adoption whenever you’re ready. While waiting until late in your pregnancy may give you less time to get to know the adoptive parents you choose, placing a baby for adoption later on will not impact the level of services American Adoptions will provide to you. You will be treated with as much care and consideration as a woman who chooses adoption in the early months of her pregnancy.
Your Adoption Professional
Once you decide that adoption is right for you, you have several options for your adoption professional. You are the only one who can decide which is best for your situation, but if you need counseling on this decision, you can always speak to an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION.
In general, here are your possible adoption professionals:
Adoption Agency: An agency will typically handle every single aspect of your adoption, including: making sure adoption is the right choice for you, helping match you with the perfect adoptive family for your baby, providing you counseling throughout your adoption journey, mediating contact between you and the adoptive family, covering your legal fees and living expenses and more. Working with a national adoption agency like American Adoptions gives you access to a large and highly qualified staff of social service workers. You also have a larger pool of adoptive parents to choose from, so you can make sure you find exactly the kind of family you want for your baby.
Adoption Lawyer: If you already know an adoptive family that you want to place your child with, an adoption lawyer can make sure all of your adoption legalities are completed properly. Their services will come at no cost to you, and you may also receive living expenses to cover your pregnancy fees. However, not all adoption lawyers have counselors in-house to help you through your emotions and communication with the adoptive family.
Adoption Facilitator: This kind of adoption professional will usually only provide matching services for finding an adoptive family. If you use an adoption facilitator, you will likely need to hire another adoption professional to legally complete your adoption and provide emotional counseling services. Because these professionals also aren’t annually reviewed by the government, adoption facilitators may not be the best choice for pregnant women considering adoption.
Your Adoption Plan
After you choose an adoption professional, they will explain to you all the adoption options available to you as you create your personalized adoption plan. Remember, you will be in charge throughout the whole adoption process, and you always have the option of deciding that adoption is not right for you. But, as you do start creating your adoption plan, here are some of the things you’ll get to decide:
The family who will adopt your baby: Your adoption professional will help you determine what kind of family you want to raise your child, including what kind of community they live in, if they already have children, if they have pets, their religion and more. Many professionals will provide you adoptive family profiles to view. You do not have to choose a family until you’re 100 percent sure of your choice.
Determining your adoption relationship: As a prospective birth mother, you have the ability to choose whether you would like an open, mediated or closed adoption. Unlike adoptions of the past, you can meet with an adoptive family before you select them, stay in touch throughout the adoption process and receive letter and photo updates and even visits with your child after the adoption is finalized. This is known as open adoption, and it provides benefits to all members of the adoption triad — which is why 95 percent of adoptions completed today are open. For more information on what an open adoption may look like for you, contact our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION.
Creating a hospital plan: At a certain point in your pregnancy, your adoption specialist will walk you through what your hospital stay may look like. You can choose whatever adoption options make you most comfortable, including: having the adoptive parents at the hospital or in your delivery room, deciding who gets to hold the baby first, determining how much time you’ll want to spend with your baby and what your hospital discharge will look like.
This will also likely be the place where you sign your adoption consent papers after your baby is born. It’s important that you’re aware of how your hospital stay will play out and what to expect during the document-signing process.
Remember, as a pregnant woman considering adoption, you have the right to determine all of your adoption options before, during and after your adoption process. Every adoption is unique, and this ability to choose gives you the chance to create the perfect adoption plan for you and your unborn baby.
To learn more about adoption and to get started today, please call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION. We’re here to not only talk you through your adoption options but make sure you’re confident in whatever unplanned pregnancy option you choose.
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