Whether you are a prospective birth parent or a hopeful adoptive parent, deciding what kind of adoption you want is a big decision. You have many aspects to choose: your preferences for a prospective birth mother or adoptive family, your open adoption relationship and contact, the professionals you work with, and more.

If you have already found an adoptive family or a prospective birth mother, you have another choice to make: whether or not an identified adoption is right for you. While an identified adoption does eliminate the need to go through the matching process, this type of adoption comes with some unique considerations, instead.

Find out more about identified adoption below.

What is Identified Adoption?

Identified adoption, simply put, is any adoption in which a prospective birth mother and hopeful adoptive parents have found each other on their own, either through word-of-mouth or their own advertising methods. Specifically, many identified adoptions occur between prospective birth mothers who choose to place their babies with a trusted friend or family member.

In contrast to independent adoptions (in which adoptive parents and pregnant women also find each other on their own), identified adoptions utilize the services of an adoption agency rather than just an adoption attorney.

At American Adoptions, we believe the services our agency provides are invaluable, even if adoptive parents and prospective birth parents have already found each other. We will always provide legal assistance, counseling and any other support needed to finalize this kind of adoption.

Why Do People Choose an Identified Adoption?

As mentioned, many of the people who choose identified adoption are close friends and family members. Often, a prospective birth mother knows that hopeful parents have desired a child and, either on her own or through word-of-mouth, she connects with them to create an adoption plan.

Prospective birth mothers often choose identified adoption because they already have a relationship with the adoptive parents. A woman may have seen those people struggle through infertility and know they will be wonderful parents. For her, placing her child with people she knows has less uncertainty than matching with virtual strangers.

Adoptive parents who choose identified adoption do so for the same reasons. They know the prospective birth mother, either on their own or through mutual acquaintances, and recognize that accepting this adoption opportunity will decrease their wait time (and the matching fees) of their adoption process.

Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Considering an Identified Adoption

Identified adoption does come with unique risks and complications not present in other adoptions, and all who choose this path must be aware of them before moving forward. If you are considering an identified adoption as a prospective birth parent or adoptive parent, ask yourself these questions first:

  • What are your reasons for choosing identified adoption?

Identified adoption can be a complicated process, so it’s important that you have good motivations to sustain you throughout your adoption — not ones that will cause regret later on. For example, if you are choosing an identified adoption because it seems “easier,” even if it doesn’t meet all of your adoption goals, your adoption may not be as positive or fulfilling an experience as you deserve.

  • What are your expectations for an open adoption relationship?

An identified adoption is naturally a very open adoption because of the existing relationship between adoptive parents and prospective birth mother. If you desire a more closed adoption, keep in mind that an identified adoption will require you to change the relationship you already have, lessening or jeopardizing that relationship with your friend or family member.

  • If you are a prospective birth mother, are you comfortable with taking a backseat role in your child’s life?

Open adoption is never co-parenting, and that doesn’t change just because you may be a friend or family member of the people you choose to adopt your child. While you may have better access to a relationship with your child than through a match made with previously unknown adoptive parents, the relationship may also be more difficult. You will not be able to have any say in how your child is raised, even when you see things you disagree with happen right in front of you. If you choose an identified adoption, you will need to be comfortable with playing this at-times difficult role in your child’s life.

  • If you are a hopeful parent, are you comfortable with having your child’s birth parent be an active part of your life?

On the other end, if you are a hopeful adoptive parent, adopting a child of a friend or family member will require more openness in your adoption. While every adoption should have a degree of openness, and you should be willing to speak with your child about their adoption story, recognize that an identified adoption may not give you the sole responsibility for that. Your child’s birth parent will likely be highly involved in their life, and that will need to be something you are comfortable with.

  • Are you prepared for the changing relationships and roles this adoption will cause?

Taking an existing relationship and turning it into an adoption relationship is a complicated thing to do. Whatever friendship you have with the adoptive parents or prospective birth parent prior to the adoption will need to be adjusted in order to do what’s best for your child.

Similarly, be prepared for potentially confusing roles, especially if you are working with a family member. For example, if a prospective birth mother places her child with her parents, that child will also be her legal sibling, although she gave birth to him or her. That child would be his or her grandparents’ legal son or daughter, as well. These relationships will have to be discussed in candid detail before an adoption match is made.

Choosing identified adoption is a very personal decision to make, and it should be one that’s made only after you are 100 percent confident it’s right for you. If you ever have any questions about the realities of identified adoption and how American Adoptions can assist you during this process, please contact our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION.