Adoption can be a difficult decision or a wonderful opportunity, depending on which side of the situation you’re looking at. Each state has regulations regarding adoptions, and the process may differ from one state to another. Most states do not require parental consent for a minor to place a child for adoption, for example, but not all states allow contracts between birth and adoptive parents.
Open vs. Closed Adoption
If you are the birth mother, making the decision to place your child for adoption can be very difficult. A woman who is single, poor or not ready to be a parent may feel that adoption is the best choice for her child. One of her decisions may be whether to use the open or closed method of adoption. An open adoption allows the birth parent to maintain contact with her child, while a closed adoption is confidential and neither parent nor child has any information about the other. Adoptions must be approved in a court of law. If you are the birth father, laws differ from state to state; consult an adoption counselor or lawyer about your rights.
An adoption can be arranged through a state-licensed agency, as an independent adoption through a lawyer, or through a kinship adoption, in which a relative of the birth parent adopts the child. A state-licensed agency often provides services such as counseling, as well as handling all the legal and regulatory requirements of an adoption. If you choose an independent adoption, you should have your own lawyer deal with the adoption attorney to make sure your interests are being represented. In a kinship adoption, you can still use the services of an adoption lawyer, state-licensed agency or the state department of human services. A kinship adoption is a full legal adoption and does not change the fact that parental rights of the biological parents are terminated, according to Planned Parenthood.
Foster Care and International Adoption
Although many people might first think of adopting a baby or a child from another country, many children in the foster care system are available for adoption. Many more children were adopted through the foster care system in the U.S. in 2011 -- 51,000 compared to 9,320 international adoptions. International adoptions can also be much more difficult because of regulations to protect the children and birth parents. Adoptions from other countries are also much more expensive in some cases; in 2011, costs varied from nothing to more than $60,000, according to AdoptUSKids.
Myths About Adoption
AdoptUSKids notes that the adoption process is surrounded by many myths, such as whether single people, gays or lesbians can adopt, whether you must adopt a child of the same race and ethnicity or whether you can adopt the child of someone you know. In reality, adoptive parents are not automatically disqualified because of monetary considerations, sexual orientation, marital status or age. Federal law prohibits adoption denials based on race and ethnicity, although there may be special considerations for Native American children. Child welfare agencies often look for connections among friends and professional relationships when trying to place a child for adoption. State laws differ, however, so check the regulations.