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Adoption Options

Adoption Options At-a-Glance : A Companion Guide for Families
Year Published: 2003

This guide focuses on one way to think about how choices in adoption may flow from one another:

There are two types of adoption: domestic and intercountry.

Domestic Adoption:

Agency Oversight: Agency oversight varies from licensed and accredited agencies to unregulated facilitators.

Voluntary Surrender or Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): Children are legally freed for adoption either through voluntary relinquishment or involuntary termination of the parental rights of their birth parents.

Child Characteristics: Every age child is available, including sibling groups of multiple ages. Children may be healthy or may have special physical or mental health needs.

Cost: Cost ranges from free or very little to $40,000 or more.

Potential Wait: Waits can be unpredictable and range from very short to 2 years or more.

Adoptive Parent Characteristics: Adoptive parent characteristics sought by birth parents vary. Specific characteristics have been found common to successful adoptive parents of children from foster care.

Post-Placement Support: Post-placement support varies from none to a wide array of services.

Potential Birth Parent Involvement/Access to Family History: The more “open” the adoption, the more potential access to a child’s birth family history.

Intercountry Adoption

Agency Oversight: Agencies facilitating intercountry adoptions must adhere to U.S. State and Federal regulations and regulations of the child’s country of origin.

Voluntary Surrender or Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): For immigration purposes, children must be considered “orphans” to be adopted.

Child Characteristics: Depending on the country, children available for adoption may include infants, school-aged children, sibling groups, and those with special needs due to parental substance abuse, poverty, or institutionalization.

Cost: Costs range from $7,000 to $30,000 or more, depending on the country and number of trips required.

Potential Wait: Waits vary depending on the country. Some countries are able to predict time from “matching” to “placement” so families can plan their lives accordingly.

Adoptive Parent Characteristics: Requirements for adoptive parents are country-specific regarding age, marital status, background, number of children in family, and other characteristics.

Post-Placement Support: Post-placement support ranges from none, to post-placement visits and required reports to the child’s country of origin, to country-specific adoptive parent support groups.

Potential Birth Parent Involvement/Access to Family History: Agency oversight varies from licensed and accredited agencies to unregulated facilitators.

If we adopt domestically, what type of adoption is best for our family?

Two types of domestic adoption are domestic infant adoption and foster care adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption

Agency Oversight: Oversight varies from accredited and licensed agencies to unregulated facilitators.

Voluntary Surrender or Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): Most domestic infant adoptions are voluntary on the part of birth parents.

Child Characteristics: Health status of domestic infants can vary greatly depending on prenatal care, substance abuse, genetics, etc.

Cost: Costs range from $5,000 to $40,000 or more depending on the agency or facilitator and State laws regarding allowable expenses.

Potential Wait: Wait varies greatly depending on the kind of child a family is looking for, timing of the family’s home study documents and child’s need, and birth parents’ choices of adoptive parents.

Adoptive Parent Characteristics: Agencies may have specific requirements regarding faith (if a faith-based agency), age, marital status, or other characteristics.

Post-Placement Support: Post-adoption support varies greatly from none to support groups for families and children.

Potential Birth Parent Involvement/Access to Family History: Many adoptions involve some level of contact between birth and adoptive families. Access to history varies greatly depending on the situation and type of agency or facilitator.

Foster Care Adoption

Agency Oversight: Foster care adoptions can occur through public social service agencies (overseen by the State) or licensed private agencies (must meet State licensing standards and may be accredited).

Voluntary Surrender or Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): Most children are freed for adoption by the involuntary termination of their birth parents’ rights. Each State has its own Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) law.

Child Characteristics: Most children in foster care are older children or sibling groups of different ages. The average age of a waiting child is over 8 years old.

Cost: Foster care adoption may be free or involve minimal fees, such as attorney costs, which can often be reimbursed.Federal or State adoption subsidies may also be available depending on the child’s special needs.

Potential Wait: The wait for placement of children from foster care varies greatly depending on the type of child(ren) the family hopes to adopt and the family’s ability to meet the child(ren)’s needs.

Adoptive Parent Characteristics: Qualities of families who successfully adopt children from the foster care system include flexible expectations and a tolerance for rejection.

Post-Placement Support: Post-adoption support may include Federal or State adoption subsidies, foster/adoptive parent support groups, respite care, individual or family therapy, and other services.

Potential Birth Parent Involvement/Access to Family History: Potential birth parent involvement varies from none to regular contact with the birth family (if in child’s best interest).Agencies generally share all they know regarding a child’s birth family history.

If we choose domestic infant adoption, who will assist our family?

Professionals who assist families with domestic infant adoption include licensed private agencies, independent attorneys, and facilitated/unlicensed agencies.

Licensed Private Agency Adoption

Agency Oversight: Licensed agencies must meet State or other licensing standards.

Voluntary Surrender or Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): Varies by State and type of adoption. Agencies must have surrenders and/or termination of parental rights for both the birth mother and father.

Child Characteristics: Licensed private agencies may place domestic infants, children in foster care, orchildren from other countries.

Cost: Generally the expenses are predictable and will be known up front. Cost ranges from nothing to $40,000 or more.

Potential Wait: The wait for a child varies greatly; intercountry adoptions may have more “predictable” waiting periods.

Adoptive Parent Characteristics: Adoptive parent characteristics vary depending on the type of adoption and child requested.

Post-Placement Support: Post-adoption support varies depending on the region, agency resources, type of adoption, and needs of the child.

Potential Birth Parent Involvement/Access to Family History: The “openness” of the adoption varies by agency, type of adoption, and preferences of all involved.

Independent (Attorney) Adoption

Agency Oversight: Independent adoptions generally do not involve as much oversight as adoptions with licensed agencies. They must comply with State laws and regulations (not all States allow for this type of adoption). Assisting attorneys must adhere to the standards of the State’s Bar Association.

Voluntary Surrender or Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): Generally voluntary relinquishments by birth mothers and/or birth fathers. Situations will vary by laws of the involved States.

Child Characteristics: Characteristics of children placed independently can vary greatly due to prenatal care and genetics.

Cost: Costs can be unpredictable but generally average between $10,000 and $15,000. State law regulates allowable expenses (e.g., birth mother’s medical care).

Potential Wait: Time to find a potential match and have a child placed is unpredictable and may be shorter or longer than a wait for an infant placement through a licensed private agency.

Adoptive Parent Characteristics: Since expectant parents choose a family, adoptive parents’ characteristics depend on individual expectant or birth parent’s wishes.

Post-Placement Support: Post-placement support varies depending on the region and the child’s needs.

Potential Birth Parent Involvement/Access to Family History: Birth and adoptive families have direct contact with one another, often allowing for exchange of medical and family history.

Facilitated/Unlicensed Agency Adoption

Agency Oversight: This type of adoption involves the least amount of oversight. Some States regulate facilitators, while in other States anyone can declare themselves to be an “adoption facilitator.”

Voluntary Surrender or Termination of Parental Rights (TPR): Generally voluntary relinquishments by birth mothers and/or birth fathers. Situations will vary by laws of the involved States.

Child Characteristics: The health status of domestic infants vary greatly, as with any newborn, due to prenatal care, genetics, etc.

Cost: Expenses are regulated by State law but can still be unpredictable. Facilitated adoptions can cost as much or more than licensed private agency adoptions.

Potential Wait: The wait can vary tremendously depending on the situation and involved parties.

Adoptive Parent Characteristics: Since expectant parents often choose a family through a facilitator, adoptive parents’ age and other characteristics will depend a great deal on the individual expectant or birth parents’ wishes.

Post-Placement Support: Post-placement services vary depending on the region, agency resources, and the child’s needs.

Potential Birth Parent Involvement/Access to Family History: Birth parent involvement and access to the child’s family history vary depending on the facilitator and the wishes of involved parties.

National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.

© 2011 Forever Parents

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