Families or individuals wishing to adopt a baby have several options, including domestic, international and parental placement adoptions. Although the process for each of these types of adoptions is different, some general adoption requirements remain the same. First, the family must undergo a home study, a process in which a social worker visits the family’s home to ensure that it is safe and adequate. During the home study, the social worker will conduct an interview to better understand the reasons for an individual's or family's desire to adopt. Additionally, the family will need to undergo background checks, pass health screenings and provide reference letters.
Public Domestic Adoption
Public domestic adoptions, which are sometimes known as foster-to-adopt programs, provide a low-cost way to adopt. These state- or county-run programs place children for adoption after a court has terminated the birth parents' rights. Since many of the children in the foster-care system are older, families may have a waiting period if they want to adopt an infant. Additionally, many babies available through public domestic adoption have been exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero or have been abused or neglected. Thus, they may have exceptional physical or emotional needs.
Private Domestic Adoption
Private domestic adoption is a common route for adopting a baby. In a private domestic adoption, a third-party private adoption agency matches prospective adoptive parents with birth families who have voluntarily chosen to relinquish their infant. The waiting period for a private domestic adoption is approximately two years and the cost can range from $20,000 to $40,000, according to "Adoptive Magazine," an award-winning national adoption magazine.
International adoption involves using a private agency to locate a baby available for adoption in another country. Generally, at least one parent will need to travel to that country to visit the child and complete adoption proceedings under the law of the baby’s home nation. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of State explains that the adoptive family will need to obtain a visa for the child. Each country’s adoption process differs significantly, so travel requirements and adoptive parent screening criteria will vary depending on the country from which the family chooses to adopt. Additionally, once the family adopts the child in a foreign country, their state may also require them to complete additional adoption proceedings in their home county.
Non-agency adoption, otherwise known as parental placement adoption, involves birth parents selecting and placing their baby with an adoptive family on their own. This process is legal in most states, although most jurisdictions regulate the process strictly. For example, most state laws forbid prospective adoptive parents from paying the birth family except for expenses directly related to the pregnancy and birth. Parental placement adoptions do not involve adoption agencies, but all parties are generally represented by their own attorneys, who negotiate the terms of the adoption and ensure that the adoption follows state and federal laws.