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What is private adoption?

Sometimes people decide to give their parental rights to someone they don’t know, who they usually find through a private adoption agency or professional. In most private adoptions the child is an infant (less than a year old).

In private adoption, you (the pregnant person or birthing parent), and the other parent (if they’re involved), permanently give up all legal rights and responsibilities to parent your child; and agree to your child being raised by another person or people who will have all legal rights and responsibilities as your child’s parent(s).

Legal adoption is a serious and permanent decision. It’s important to get accurate and complete information about adoption so you can make an informed, supported, and empowered decision. Unfortunately there are many adoption professionals who don’t give full honest information and pressure pregnant people into adoption. Many adoption professionals are also anti-abortion. 

What are the types of private adoptions?

Agency adoption happens through a private agency, which must be licensed by the state(s) in which they facilitate adoptions. “Private” means that your child is not going into foster care or being adopted from foster care. In most cases agencies must have social workers on staff who are trained in counseling and case management. In an agency adoption, the agency is legally responsible for the care and custody of the child until the child is adopted. 

Independent or attorney adoption is when the pregnant person and their chosen prospective adoptive parent(s) make a legal agreement. It’s a legal process, sometimes with additional services such as counseling and emotional support from a social worker or case manager. In this type of adoption, an adoption attorney (lawyer) helps you place your child with the adopting family. These types of adoption are illegal in some states. You can find which types of adoptions are legal in your state here

In both agency and independent adoptions, the following types of contact agreements may be available:

Open adoption: You make an agreement about communication and contact with your child after the adoption. You have each other’s contact information and can communicate directly, sharing updates and photos, for example, through phone, email, or video. The number of visits are usually decided ahead of time and included in a post-adoption contract. Know that post-adoption contact agreements aren’t legally binding in the majority of states and, even when they are legally enforceable, birth parents often have a difficult time enforcing them. This is because adoptive parents have all legal rights to the child. 

Mediated or semi-open adoption: You don’t have the adoptive parent(s)’ contact information and they don’t have yours. Any updates on your child are exchanged through an adoption professional or sometimes a private website. For example, the adoptive family would send updates and photos to the agency who would pass them along to you, and vice versa. You would probably not be allowed to have visits with your child and their adoptive parents after the adoption. If you are, they would likely be supervised by a professional. 

Closed adoption: There is no exchange of identifying or contact information between families before or after the adoption. You don’t get updates about where your child is or how they’re doing, and there are no visits. You’ll likely be asked to provide non-identifying information such as descriptions of yourself and your family members, family medical history, and your ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as well as any non-identifying information you’re able to share about your child’s other parent.

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