Adoption: Types of Adoption and How to Adopt

Monday, August 20, 2012

Adopting a child is a serious commitment in your life, but it also can be the most rewarding. There are many types of adoptions as well as many subsets, all decisions you must take seriously while going through the adoption process. This article presents an overview of the types of adoptions you may choose in order to help make your process as easy as possible.


Types of Adoption

International adoption, U.S. agency adoption, private adoption, stepparent adoption, open adoption and closed adoption are all options for you to think about as a prospective adoptive parent. It is important to note that New York allows adult couples and single persons to adopt, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. However, A special rule applies to married individuals who have been separated, but who are not divorced.  New York will allow a separated individual to undertake an adoption as a single applicant.  However, the law requires either a separation agreement, a judgment of separation or a physical separation of at least three years.  The non-adopting spouse will not be declared to be the parent of the adopted child.

Agency Adoptions: In an agency adoption, the child’s legal custody is first transferred to a licensed adoption agency.  Legal custody then passes to the adoptive family. When you decide to adopt through an agency, you can choose either a public agency or a private agency.


Public agencies- include social services, child welfare and foster care. These municipal agencies seek to place children who are freed for adoption, usually after being placed into foster care.  A child is freed for adoption once the county social services agency has obtained the termination of the parental rights of the biological parents through voluntary means or through contested legal proceedings, sometimes known as termination of parental rights proceedings, or TPRs. One of the advantages of working with a county social services agency is that the cost is minimal.  In fact, the family may be entitled to receive a subsidy for raising an adoptive child.


Private agencies- are located throughout different states and foreign countries. You can often obtain information about private agencies over the internet and through an attorney.

A private agency seeks to place children who have been surrendered in writing by their parents, usually at birth.  These transfers are almost always voluntary.  The advantage of using a private adoption agency is that the family will receive an infant placement.  However, private adoption agencies charge fees which can range from approximately $5,000 to over $20,000.


Independent Adoptions: In a private adoption, also called independent adoption, the child’s legal custody passes directly from the biological parent(s) to the adoptive family. A private placement adoption in New York occurs where adoptive parents locate biological parents, or are referred to biological parents, without the assistance of an adoption agency. This type of adoption may involve step-parent adoption, related family adoption, and grandparent adoption.  Adopting a stepchild is the most common type of adoption. To adopt a stepchild the stepparent must have the consent of both his or her spouse and the child’s other birth parent. After the adoption, the stepparent assumes the rights and responsibilities for the child. In effect the stepparent is no longer a stepparent but becomes the child’s parent.  After the stepparent adopts the child, the other birth parent no longer has any rights or responsibilities for the child such as paying child support. Another type of adoption that falls under this category is a kinship adoption. A kinship adoption is of a child by an adult member of the child’s extended family. This may include a younger sibling, grandchild, niece, nephew or a cousin.

How to Adopt: 10 Steps

  1. Learn All You Can about Adoption- This includes getting informed, on the types of adoptions and what it means to adopt. Research through reading materials, contact local agencies, or attend a seminar on adoption.
  2. Complete a Self Assessment- Prospective parents do not have to be rich, married, under 40, highly educated, or homeowners to adopt. Far more important are positive personal characteristics. Write them down and create a list as well as ask yourself questions if you truly believe you are ready to adopt. This is a useful tool to help individuals make better-informed decisions about adopting a child.
  3. Decide What Type of Adoption You Want to Pursue- Once you’ve decided adopting a child is the right decision for you; you must now decide what type of adoption best suits your needs and desires. You should consider whether you would rather work through a public or a private adoption agency and weigh the pros and cons of each option.
  4. Investigate Ways to Cover Likely Adoption Expenses- Adoption can be very expensive, depending on the type you choose, but there are resources out there to help individuals or families to cover some of the expenses to encourage adoption and the positive life it brings children. Examples of some resources include: loans, employer assistance, military re-imbursements, and possibly tax credits and exclusions. It’s important to research all your options to ensure you receive the help you are eligible for.
  5. Select an Adoption Agency- If you choose to work with an adoption agency; it is crucial to pick the best one that suits you. To find a public or private agency that is a good fit for you, your values, and your unique situation, compare information from several agencies. Before selecting an agency, take the initiative to learn more about them by interviewing agency representatives by phone or in person.
  6. Let Your Agency Know You are Serious About Adoption- When you call an agency to let staff there know you are interested in adopting, the person you talk to may ask a series of screening questions or simply volunteer to send literature about the agency. If you want to adopt relatively soon, find out how you can get the process started.

One common first step is an orientation meeting or training session for prospective adoptive parents. Adoption can be a very long process, so it is important to let the whomever you are working with that you are serious and committed to ensure that the process starts quickly and smoothly.

  1. Complete the Application- If possible, attend an orientation session before filling out application paperwork so you are confident in the agency's ability to meet your needs. Application fees are often non-refundable, even if you decide to work through a different agency or change your mind about adopting. Make sure you fill it out correctly.
  2. Begin the Home Study Process- A home study can loosely be defined as an educational process designed to help your social worker learn more about your ability to parent and provide a stable home, to teach you about adoption and its affect on children and families, and to prepare you to parent a child whose experiences and history are very different from your own. Everyone who hopes to adopt must have a completed home study. Depending on the agency, the worker, and the prospective parents' cooperation, the process can take from two months to a year.
  3. Begin Searching for a Child- If you adopt through an agency, learn how the agency will conduct a search. What criteria do they use to match children with families? Are they willing to search outside your immediate area for a child or youth? Find the child that best fits your situation and whom you can see inviting to be a part of your family
  4. Bring the Child Home, Make it Legal, and Enjoy your Family- The adoption is not legally complete until your newly created family goes through the finalization process. Finalization hearings usually take place within a year after a child is placed in the home. Before scheduling a hearing, check with your agency to make sure you have completed the necessary paperwork. Once, your adoption becomes legal, enjoy your family and the love you share.

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