Written by Avvo Staff

Adopting From Birth Parents

If you are seeking to adopt, you don't always have to go through an agency. You can also do your own research and locate a pregnant woman who is looking to relinquish her baby. You can then negotiate directly with the birth mother—and sometimes the birth father—to create an adoption plan. You will work with the birth parents to figure out details such as how much future contact the birth parents may have with their baby.

Looking for birth parents

Adoptive parents who don't want to wait for an adoption agency to match them with a birth mother often try to find a birth mother independent of an agency, which is why this method is sometimes called "independent adoption."

Popular methods of finding birth mothers include the following:

  • Creating a Web site linked to popular adoption Web sites
  • Placing ads in local newspapers
  • Informing friends about your search

Generally, to advertise that you are looking to adopt, you will need to have a completed home study. A state or independent case worker will interview you, visit your home, interview personal references, and do a criminal background check to determine if you could provide a safe, stable home for a child.

Would-be adoptive parents may wish to hire an adoption attorney at this stage. Adoption is a specialized legal area, and issues such as adopting across state lines may complicate the picture. The attorney can also act as an intermediary between the parties if the birth mother and adoptive parents wish.

Independent adoptions are also closely regulated due to concerns about exploitation and fraud. A few states do not allow independent adoptions at all. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the rules where you live.

Independent adoption costs

The costs of a domestic independent adoption vary depending on the birth parents' needs. The birth mother may ask for help with housing, transportation, education, medical expenses for the birth, or living expenses, depending on her circumstances. Your attorney will also need to get court approval of the adoption plan. The overall cost for independent adoption can range from $8,000 to $40,000, and sometimes more.

Open vs. closed independent adoption

Over the past few decades, the once-secretive process of adoption has changed dramatically. Today, many independent adoptions involve some degree of openness and continued contact. Each family adopting independently will need to decide how much openness they feel comfortable with in their adoption.

For instance, the birth parents may ask for a commitment by the adoptive parents to send regular letters, videos, or photos of the child through the years, or for in-person meetings on an annual or more-frequent basis for themselves and other relatives. Birth parents may hire their own attorney to help them secure the adoption agreement they want.

Once the baby is born, a waiting period begins, during which the birth parents may change their mind about the adoption plan. State laws vary—this timeframe may be a few days or several months. After the birth, then you will go to court to obtain the right to take your child home pending finalization of the adoption.

Additional resources:

Adopting from Foster Care

International Adoption

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