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Thinking about Adoption. Now what?

June 28, 2010

The idea of adoption has been slowly sneaking its way to the front of your consciousness. You haven’t talked to your partner yet because you’re not sure what the reaction will be.


Or maybe you have talked with your partner and you’ve both agreed to “get more information.”


Or maybe you’ve wanted to adopt for as long as you can remember.


Now what?


The internet is a blessing and a curse. We can sit down at the computer in our pajamas at two in the morning when we can’t sleep. And with a few strokes of the keyboard, we are swimming in more information that we can possibly sort through. You might click on the first one or two websites from the google results. You may even sit at your computer for hours, engrossed in the seemingly unending availability of information. But many of my clients have reflected on how they are overwhelmed with TOO MUCH INFORMATION.


There are a multitude of adoption options to choose from. A good place to start is to get a good understanding of what those options are. Listed in no particular order, I’ve identified the following as the most common paths toward adoption.

  • Domestic, Infant, Agency Adoption. This is what is commonly thought of as “traditional” adoption, although statistics indicate that this is no longer the most popular method of adoption. Traditionally, prospective adoptive parents will seek the assistance of an agency, who will help match them with an expectant mother wanting to place her child for adoption. The agency provides services to the expectant mother and adoptive family, and assists with the legal aspect of placing the child with the adoptive family and finalizing the adoption.
  • Domestic, Infant, Private Adoption. This option similarly places a newborn infant with an adoptive family, but without the assistance of an agency. Sometimes, adoptive parents locate an expectant mother on their own, through advertising, word of mouth, or simple serendipity. I’ve seen “ads” on facebook looking for an infant to adopt, and know prospective adoptive families who have sent mass mailings out to OBs, hoping to find a woman who wants to place her unborn baby for adoption. Typically, the family still needs an attorney to consummate the adoption.
  • Adoption Facilitators. This method of adopting is growing in popularity and is similar to private adoption, except that adoptive parents get some assistance looking for an expectant mother to be matched with. Adoption facilitators are NOT agencies and do not assist with finalizing the adoption. Adoption facilitators help match prospective adoptive families with expectant mothers. It greatly increases the choices for expectant mothers, who are no longer confined to the limited number of prospective adoptive parents offered to them by an agency. It also casts a wider net for the adoptive family, who now has the opportunity to be matched with an expectant mother from anywhere in the county. The adoption will be finalized with the assistance of a private attorney.
  • International Adoption. Obviously, this option involves adopting a child from another country. In recent years, some of the most popular international adoption countries include China and Russia. With international adoption, an adoptive family will not be able to adopt a newborn but in many cases can adopt an older infant or young toddler. Although it may be possible to complete an international adoption without an agency, it is extremely unusual.
  • Adoption from Foster Care (sometimes called “public adoption”). The specifics of adopting a child from foster care will vary by state. In general, adopting from foster cares means adopting who has been involuntarily removed from their biological family due to abuse or neglect. Many, many children are available for adoption in every state and most of these children are older.
  • Embryo Adoption. Embryo adoption is a new phenomenon and isn’t really “adoption” at all, in the legal sense of the word. Few states have any laws pertaining to embryo adoption, although this will likely change in the near future. Embryo adoption involves “adopting” a frozen embryo, usually created by another couple who was pursuing IVF and chose not to use all of their embryos. Most agencies that facilitate an embryo adoption treat prospective adoptive families the same as any other prospective adoptive family, in that the family undergoes a home study and is required to participate in adoption education. The prospective mother then undergoes IVF with the adopted embryo.


Clearly, there are pros and cons associated with each type of adoption. Is one better than the other? Universally, no. For you family? Absolutely. In future blog posts, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of each method, but I encourage you to start making your own list of pros and cons, based on the knowledge you have right now. The frustrating part of doing adoption research is finding non-biased information. Of course a domestic adoption agency thinks that infant, domestic adoption is best. An international adoption agency surely believes that international is best! It may be helpful to seek the assistance of an adoption professional who is not associated with an adoption agency. Hopefully, this professional can help you identify what is important to you, what your fears are, and what ultimately is the best choice for your family.


Starting this Thursday, I will be writing a weekly blog entry directly related to questions or thoughts I receive via email related to the week’s “theme.” Leave a comment or send me an email related to how to begin sifting through the plethora of information related to adoption. What was helpful to you? What information were you looking for but never found? What kind of help do you wish you had?

Email your questions to: and check back on Thursday for my thoughts.


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