Are There Different Kinds of Adoption?
Yes, there are different kinds of adoption and different ways to arrange for your child to be adopted.
There are two types of adoption — "open" and "closed."
- Open adoptions happen when the birth parent and adopting family have some contact. The birth mother selects the adopting family. She can find out about their values, lifestyle, and religion. Their ideas about discipline and the educational opportunities they can offer may also be important to her. She and the adoptive parents may choose to form a relationship. It may include ongoing visits with the child, phone calls, pictures, or visits. Women may choose open adoption in order to be reassured by meeting the child's adoptive family or by getting updates as the child grows.
- Closed adoptions, or confidential adoptions, happen when the birth mother and adopting family do not have any information about one another. Closed adoptions are becoming less common. Women may choose a closed adoption in order to have more privacy.
Finding Adopted Children or Birth Parents After a Closed Adoption
Sometimes adopted children or birth parents will want to find each other later in life after a closed adoption. Adoption registries may be able to help you connect with your child. Some adoption agencies will help birth parents and children find each other. But this does not always happen, so if you think you will want to have some contact with your child, consider planning an open adoption.
There are different ways to arrange for an adoption:
- Agency adoptions happen with the help of a state-licensed agency that connects the birth parent with the adopting family. The agency can help arrange for pre- and post-adoption counseling and hospital arrangements for the birth, and can provide help with legal matters. Agency adoptions can be open or closed adoptions, but they are most often open. The agency can help you select the adoptive parents and help you set up plans for future contact with the adoptive family.
- Independent adoptions are handled through a lawyer. These lawyers are sometimes called "adoption attorneys." It is a good idea to have your own lawyer to represent your best interests. In an independent adoption, you can still receive counseling and guidance through a local adoption agency, if you choose.
- Adoption by a relative happens when someone in the birth parent's family adopts the child. This is also called "kinship adoption." You and your relative can work with an adoption agency, lawyer, or your state department of human services to arrange the adoption. Family members must meet all the same legal requirements as any other adoptions. Even if your child is placed with a family member, you will have no more parental rights than if you had placed your child with strangers.
Adoption is legal and binding whether it is open or closed, and no matter how it is arranged. All adoptions must be approved by a judge in a family or surrogate court.
Adoption laws are different in every state. An adoption counselor or lawyer can tell you about the laws in your state. In most states, minors do not need a parent's consent to choose to place a child for adoption. You can also find out if there are laws in your state that allow contracts between birth and adoptive parents for ongoing visits. Be sure to read everything very carefully and talk with your lawyer before you sign any papers.
During your pregnancy, you have the right to decide on adoption and change your mind later. If you choose adoption, you will have to sign official "relinquishment papers" after your baby is born.
What About the Baby's Birth Father?
The laws about birth fathers are different from state to state, so talk with an adoption counselor or lawyer about what rights a birth father has in your state. You may need his consent in order to plan an adoption.