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  • What facts about adoption do I need to know?

There are different ways to go through the adoption process. Here are the facts about your options and info on where to get help and support.

What are the different types of adoption?

There are 2 kinds of adoption: open adoption and closed adoption.

Closed adoption (also called confidential adoption) is when the birth parent(s) and adoptive family have limited or no information about each other, and they don’t stay in contact after the adoption process is finished. People may choose closed adoption in order to have more privacy.

Open adoption is when the birth parent(s) and adopting family meet each other before the adoption, and continue to build a relationship as the child grows up. Most adoptions in the U.S. are open. Sometimes there’s a lot of communication between the families and sometimes there’s little, but in open adoptions the child always knows of the adoption.

In open adoptions, you choose who adopts your child and you learn important things about them like their values, lifestyle, educational backgrounds, and religion. You develop a relationship with the adoptive family, and there’s often a legally enforceable agreement for ongoing visits with the child.

Birth parents and the adoptive family decide together what kind of relationship they want to have, and how often visits, phone calls, and updates happen. People may choose open adoption if they want to be able to pick their child’s adoptive family and be in their child’s life.

What are the different ways to place a child for adoption?

The adoption process can happen a few different ways.

Agency adoptions are when a state-licensed agency gives you pregnancy options counseling. It’s important to work with an agency that’s unbiased and will honor you as you explore all of your options and decide which one feels right to you. If you choose adoption, you choose from a pool of carefully screened families. The agency assists you and the family as you build a relationship. The agency also helps you make hospital arrangements for the birth, and gives you guidance on legal matters. Some agencies provide ongoing counseling and relationship guidance over the years.

Independent adoptions are handled through lawyers. These lawyers are sometimes called "adoption attorneys." It’s best if the biological parent(s) have their own lawyer to represent their best interests. If you choose independent adoption, you can ask for counseling and guidance through a local adoption agency.

Adoption by a relative happens when someone in the biological parent's family adopts the child. This is also called "kinship adoption." You and your relative(s) 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 adoptive family would. Even though a family member adopts the child in an open adoption, birth parents have no more legal and parental rights than if they had placed their child with strangers.

Your state, county, or local department of family or child services, or your local Planned Parenthood health center, have resources on adoption. They may be able to connect you with a social worker or other adoption counselor who can help you through the adoption process. Also, The National Pro-Choice Adoption Collaborative specializes in providing unbiased, in depth options counseling and open adoption services. You choose from a large pool of diverse families who genuinely want to have an ongoing, extended family relationship with you. They also provide lifelong counseling and guidance.

How do I find an adoption agency?

You can get help finding adoption agencies in your area through your local department of family or child services, or your local Planned Parenthood health center, All-Options, or The National Pro-Choice Adoption Collaborative.  

An adoption agency can help guide you through the adoption process. When you’re picking an adoption agency, it’s a good idea to ask lots of questions to make sure they’re a good fit for you.


  • Will using your services cost me anything?

  • Do you offer counseling or support groups for birth parents?

  • If I’m under 18 does my family have to know I am considering adoption?

  • How do you screen the adoptive families you work with?

  • Will I have a large, diverse pool of qualified families to choose from?

  • Will I be able to meet with adoptive families?

  • Do the adoptive parents want a lifelong relationship with me that includes ongoing visits?

  • Do you provide ongoing relationship guidance?

  • Will my child know who I am even if I choose not to visit?

  • Will there be a legally enforceable post-adoption contact agreement that outlines the number of ongoing visits?

  • If I choose an open adoption, will you help me stay in touch with the adoptive family?

  • Can your agency help with medical costs for prenatal care and giving birth?

  • Do you work with families who want to adopt babies with a different race and ethnicity, or special medical needs?

  • What rights does the birth father have in my state?

  • If I choose adoption, when is my decision final?

How do I find birth parents or an adopted child after a closed adoption?

Sometimes adopted children or birth parents want to find each other later in life after a closed adoption. Adoption registries may be able to help you connect with your child, and some adoption agencies will help birth parents and children find each other.

It’s not always possible to connect birth parents and adopted children after a closed adoption. So if you think you’ll want to have some contact with your child, an open adoption is probably a better choice for you.

What are the laws surrounding adoption?

Adoption is legal and binding. All adoptions must be approved by a judge in court.

Adoption laws are different in every state. An adoption counselor, agency, or lawyer can help you understand the laws where you live. Be sure to read everything very carefully and talk with your lawyer and/or adoption agency 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’ll have to sign official "relinquishment papers" after your baby is born.

In most states, minors do not need a parent’s consent to place their child for adoption.

The laws about birth fathers vary. Depending on the rights a birth father has in your state, you may need their consent in order to plan an adoption. Some states allow contracts for ongoing visits between birth parents and adoptive families.

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