By definition, adoption is the process of transferring parental rights from one parent to another. But it’s also much more than that…

Adoption is a lifelong journey that forever changes the lives of adopted children, their adoptive parents and their birth parents. The following provides an overview of modern adoption, from the various forms it can take to the people it affects. Pregnancy Problem Center can help pregnant women navigate these first steps in considering adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption

In domestic infant adoption, U.S.-born infants are placed for adoption by their birth parents, who legally consent to the adoption and select an adoptive family for their child. Hopeful adoptive parents are matched with a birth mother during her pregnancy, and they then adopt the baby when he or she is born.

National and regional adoption agencies specialize in domestic newborn adoption and offer services throughout every step of the adoption process, including adoption counseling and education, screening and matching services, arrangement and coordination of the adoption, contact with home study professionals (for adoptive parents), hospital plan development and coordination, general case management and adoption planning, and post-adoption support.

Independent Adoption

An independent adoption is one that is completed without the use of an adoption agency. Adoptive families work directly with an adoption attorney to complete the adoption.

Because many adoption attorneys do not (or legally cannot) provide many of the same services as adoption agencies, including screening and matching, counseling and support services, adoptive families will often need to outsource these services from other adoption professionals at an additional cost.

Parents will typically communicate directly with prospective birth parents and coordinate the various adoption services they will need, including screening, counseling and support, insurance and hospital coordination and more.

Foster Care Adoption

The average age of children in foster care is typically 7 years old, so it’s unlikely an expectant mother would choose this route. But it’s not unheard of for a newborn to be entered into foster care for future placement with a willing family.

Foster parents typically care for the child until a permanent adoptive family is found or until parental rights are restored. If parents’ give up their parental rights, the child becomes legally free for adoption. The child may then be adopted by their foster parents or placed in a permanent family home through the foster care system.. Foster care adoption is popular because it’s often the least expensive form of adoption (for adoptive parents) and some states provide monthly stipends to help support the child’s needs.

Stepparent or Relative Adoption

Stepparent or relative adoption is the most common form of adoption in the United States. In these arrangements, a stepparent or relative becomes a legal parent for a child.

Children who are legally adopted by their stepparents are entitled to that parent’s inheritance and are eligible to receive insurance benefits. Adoption also makes it easier for stepparents to complete everyday tasks, such as picking the child up from school and obtaining medical records. There are emotional benefits as well, as stepparent adoption can provide parents and children with a sense of permanence and family stability, as well as provide contact with the birth mother if desired.