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Adoption Without an Agency: What is Independent Adoption?

The Pros and Cons of Each Path

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. We’re a full-service professional, and our clients know that their adoption will be completed safely, legally, and ethically from start to finish.

However, these “agency adoptions” aren’t the only way for adoptive families or pregnant mothers to pursue adoption. There’s another type of adoption called “independent adoption”— a way of adopting a child without an agency.

For some people, a private adoption without an agency is the perfect path. But there are some important things to know ahead of time. Keep reading for more information on how you can adopt without an agency or place a baby in an independent adoption and the benefits and challenges offered by the independent adoption process.

And, if you wish to speak with a professional about the differences between an agency-assisted and private adoption process, you can always contact our team anytime online or at 1-800-ADOPTION.

What is Independent Adoption, and Who is Involved?

As mentioned, an independent adoption is an adoption without an agency. Adoptive parents and prospective birth parents have to work directly with each other to complete the steps of their journey, hiring out additional professionals as needed for different services.

In an agency-assisted adoption, the chosen agency often hires and coordinates with different professionals on behalf of the prospective birth or adoptive parents. But, because independent adoptions do not involve an agency, several other professionals must be independently employed, including:

  • Adoption Attorney: Required to legally terminate parental rights of the prospective 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 prospective birth mother to have emotional support 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 (otherwise, families need to create adoption advertisements on their own)

Remember: When you work with American Adoptions, all of these services will be provided to you through our program, with your individual specialist coordinating every step. But, in a private independent adoption, prospective birth and adoptive parents must locate and hire these services themselves, which can quickly add to the cost of adoption without an agency (more on that below).

When to Place a Baby for Adoption Without an Agency

One of the most common reasons a pregnant woman pursues an independent adoption is because she has already located an adoptive family. She may know a family member or friend she wants to adopt her baby, or she may find an adoptive family online or through personal networking. After connecting and getting to know each other, the two parties can move forward with the help of an adoption attorney.

In this situation, the only requirement will be a completed home study by the adoptive family and the legal termination of her and the prospective birth father’s parental rights. While a private adoption attorney can complete this step, they cannot offer the many important services offered by adoption agencies — including emotional and practical support, counseling, family screening, adoption planning, and much more.

However, even if you identify an adoptive family on your own, you can still receive these important services — absolutely for free — by contacting American Adoptions.

This middle ground between an agency adoption and an independent adoption is known as an “identified adoption.” If a prospective birth mother has already found an adoptive family, she can still use an adoption agency like American Adoptions to get the same valuable services found in an agency-assisted adoption.

For example, when you work with American Adoptions, you can receive all of these important advantages:

Additionally, American Adoptions has pre-screened adoptive families to choose from, in case you decide the family you have identified is no longer right for you. Please call our agency at 1-800-ADOPTION anytime to learn more about these services.

If you decide not to work with an adoption agency, your first call should be to a reputable private adoption attorney in your state. He or she will go over your rights, discuss the prospective birth father situation, and review the next steps required to proceed. If you haven’t yet found an adoptive family, the attorney may help you find a match by referring you to a family they are already working with or referring you to an adoption agency (like American Adoptions) solely for the matching step of this process.

Remember, as with all types of private domestic adoptions, independent adoption (and agency-assisted adoption) is always free for prospective birth mothers. To learn more about placing a child for adoption with or without an agency, you can always contact our trained specialists.

When — and How — to Find a Baby to Adopt Without an Agency

If you’re wondering how to adopt without an agency, an independent adoption may be right for you. But, before you get started, know that many adoptive families find independent adoptions to be much more challenging than agency adoptions.

Instead of the “one-stop shop” advantages of an agency, a private independent adoption requires you to take on additional responsibility to safely, legally and ethically bring a child into your home.

Oftentimes in independent adoptions, the adoptive family assumes the role of coordinator for each step of their journey. If an adoptive family needs to find an adoption opportunity, they must network within their community, advertise themselves online and in newspapers (if independent adoption ads are legal in their state), and spread their adoption desires by word of mouth.

And, if they do find a woman interested in adoption, they still need to screen her to learn her medical background and commitment level, and make sure she isn’t a scammer — all of which would be taken care of by an adoption agency.

Because of the responsibility and extra steps required for matching in the private adoption process, it’s very likely that you will wait longer to find an adoption opportunity than if you work with a national agency like American Adoptions.

Adoption Costs Without an Agency: The Myth of the “Cheaper” Adoption

Adoptive parents considering an independent adoption often ask, “How much does adoption cost without an agency?” While an independent adoption can be less expensive than an agency-assisted adoption in some cases, that reduced number comes with a cost.

In an independent adoption, the adoptive family must pay for the legal fees, medical expenses and any living expenses of the prospective birth mother. An adoptive family should coordinate with an attorney for any payment of living expenses; laws vary by state, and some states even prohibit the direct payment from adoptive parents to prospective birth mother. Handling living expense payments yourself can put your adoption in legal jeopardy, while working with an agency ensures all the legal requirements are met from the start.

Additional costs include advertising for an adoption opportunity, providing her with adequate counseling, covering her travel costs, and much more. Generally, the only fee that is waived in an independent adoption is the “agency fee” — which, in many cases, covers these exact services and includes many more.

In fact, when you hire services a la carte, it’s very possible for the cost of adoption without an agency to exceed that of working with an agency. For this reason, we encourage hopeful adoptive parents to at least contact an adoption agency to compare their options. Agency-assisted adoption may be more expensive up front, but knowing all of the steps are handled by professionals often makes it 100% worth it for adoptive families.

For example, if you adopt with American Adoptions, all of these services will be included:

  • Education and screening to confirm you’re practically and emotionally ready for adoption
  • Assistance creating your print and video family profiles
  • Matching with pre-screened prospective birth mothers based on your preferences
  • Financial protection, in case of an adoption disruption
  • Home study services (depending on your state)
  • Personal case management and support
  • Post-placement education and support
  • And more

In addition, our team of specialists will ensure the prospective birth mother who chooses you receives only the best support as you move through this journey together.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if potentially lower independent adoption costs make up for the responsibilities placed on you to handle every step of your family-building journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our agency anytime for more information about our agency adoption costs.

Pros and Cons of Adoption Without an Agency

Before you decide to pursue a private adoption without an agency, we encourage you to research both options thoroughly. Ask yourself: How much work do I personally want to put into my journey? Do I prefer to handle the details myself, or would I rather trust a professional?

Again, don’t hesitate to contact our team online or at 1-800-ADOPTION. We will happily answer your questions and help you understand the benefits of working with our national, full-service adoption agency.

In the meantime, here is a brief rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of private independent adoption.

Benefits of Independent Adoptions

  • Lower cost (on average) due to fewer professionals involved in the process
  • More direct contact between a prospective birth mother or adoptive family
  • Wait time for finding an adoption opportunity may be lower in certain situations
  • Ideal for kinship adoptions or adoptions between friends

Disadvantages of Independent Adoptions

  • Must find a match independent of an adoption professional
  • No screening services prior to finding the match, increasing the risk of adoption fraud
  • No financial protection in case of an adoption disruption
  • 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
  • No case manager coordinating the steps of the adoption process

Remember: To learn more about our agency-assisted adoption program, please contact American Adoptions at any time.

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