How Adoption Works

Domestic Adoption

­Of the approximately 120,000 children adopted in the United States each year, around 100,000 are adopted domestically. In 2002, 51,000 children were a­dopted from foster care.

When choosing to adopt an infant or a child, consider your resources, support system and whether you can adapt to the needs of caring for an infant. Waiting times for adoptions vary, but your agency may be able to offer you an estimate. Generally, there are fewer opportunities to adopt infants, for whom the waiting time can be up to two years.

Most domestic adoptions go through a licensed private agency, described in the last section. An identified adoption involves the birth parents and adoptive parents locating one another, but an agency still conducts the home study (more on this later in the article) and counsels the birth parents. A facilitated or unlicensed agency adoption involves a facilitator who, for a fee, links the birth parents and adoptive parents. In many states, these types of adoptions don’t fall under government oversight or regulation and the facilitator may not be trustworthy. In some states it’s illegal for a paid facilitator to help with an adoption.

Finally, there is the independent adoption, in which lawyers assist families and birth parents usually give consent directly to the adoptive family. If you pursue an independent adoption, find a qualified attorney, such as one who belongs to the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, a group of practicing adoption attorneys who also work on adoption law reform and education. Not all states allow independent adoption, and its costs are less predictable than working with an agency. State law also dictates which expenses can be reimbursed by the adoptive family, such as paying for the birth mother’s medical care.

Costs for a domestic adoption vary and depend on whether an agency is involved and its fees. Expenses can range from $5,000 to $40,000, but $10,000 to $15,000 is more common. Federal and state subsidies are available for some adoptions.