The independent adoption process involves the birth parents and adoptive parents deciding to go through the entire adoption process without the state foster system. Independent adoptions are usually used as another word for private adoptions or direct adoptions and may also be agency adoptions through private agencies that use screening services or private adoption attorneys. For more information on private adoptions, see our page on private adoptions here.
Even if you find prospective birth parents to arrange a direct adoption, you may still need to go through the state requirements to make the adoption legal. A direct adoption is when the adoptive parents meet directly with the birth parents without going through an agency-assisted adoption.
As with a licensed adoption agency, the state generally requires a home study before a child can be placed with the prospective adoptive parents in an independent adoption. Adoptive families may find the prospective birth parents through a variety of sources, such as friends, members of a church, an experienced adoption attorney, a social worker, or other community resources who may know of a suitable child for adoption.
The prospective birth mother and prospective birth father still retain legal parental rights during the adoption proceedings until finalized (or varying timeframes once they have signed the waiver and consent to adoption, which is based on specific state laws), so you will want to make sure you have an adoption plan in place and done by an experienced adoption lawyer.
Independent adoption is not a short process and can be costly. You also need to consider the time it takes to complete the adoption process—from locating prospective birth parents to filing the adoption petition to finalizing the adoption. Some adoptive parents pay the living expenses and medical expenses involved with the birth of the child.
There’s also the cost of the home study and you may have to locate your own social worker to complete that. Then there are the legal costs—hiring an experienced adoption lawyer and court fees are part of the legal adoption process that need to be considered. There are also costs of having physical custody of the child to be adopted—clothing, food, and other necessities—during the pendency of the adoption process. Adoptive families may also need to make use of counseling services as part of the adoption plan.
In a direct adoption/non-agency adoption, you also want to be aware of the risk of adoption fraud, which could lead to possible criminal charges. You should thoroughly vet the birth family/parents as best you can if you are not going through a private agency adoption.
The short answer is yes. When beginning your adoption journey you need to consider what, if any, direct contact you want to have with the prospective birth mother and prospective birth father-both during the adoption process and after the child is adopted. Closed vs open adoption should be carefully thought through by all members of the prospective adoptive family.
There can be benefits and challenges with each type of adoption proceeding. It is essential to understand the process before deciding which adoption option is the right one for your family when beginning your adoption journey. After learning more about independent adoption, consult an adoption attorney in a city near you to learn more about the entire adoption process and how to get started.