Somewhere, there’s a Child Who Needs You
Adopting a child who needs a loving, stable family is an incredibly fulfilling experience. But what kind of adoption is right for your family? To help you choose, we’ll explain 4 types of adoption below.
There are Many Ways to Adopt a Child
There are many ways for one person to adopt another in the United States. Adoptions can happen through a state welfare system, an international agency, or privately through an attorney, doctor, or clergy. Even adults can be legally adopted by other adults.
Four Common Types of Adoption in the United States
When you’re longing to welcome a child or baby into your home, the options for adoption can be confusing. Since you’re most likely here because you’re hoping to adopt a child, we’ll focus on common options for adopting a baby or older child in the United States.
Foster Care and Foster-to-Adopt
When a birth parent cannot care for their baby or child, the state steps in and takes over custody of the child. This arrangement may be temporary, and the parent regains custody after meeting certain benchmarks. In many cases, however, the birth parent’s rights are terminated, and the state takes full custody of the child.
Once the child becomes a full ward of the state, they are placed with a foster family. Although there are some families who choose to temporarily foster children, many others choose to adopt a child from the foster care system. For those families who want to adopt a child but have limited funds, adopting a child from the state foster system allows them to realize their dream without spending their entire life savings.
Many states, including Ohio, don’t require families to foster a child prior to adoption. However, you may be asked to acquire a fostering license (in addition to an adoption license) if you wish to welcome a foster child to your family. Licensing requirements typically include classes on adoption and understanding the unique needs of children in the foster system.
You should also be aware that many children who enter the foster system are victims of neglect and abuse. A child who has experienced trauma requires special care and attention. But the rewards of providing a safe, stable, and loving environment are worth it.
Another common form of adoption in the United States is a Relative or Kinship adoption.
Kinship adoption typically occurs when one or both birth parents cannot care for their child, and a relative such as an uncle, aunt, or grandparent adopts them. These arrangements allow the child or children to remain with their relatives and keeps them out of the state foster system.
Relative adoptions are often easier to obtain than other types of adoption because family courts are generally more favorable toward having blood relatives raise a child. Such adoptions provide more stability and a greater sense of belonging in a family.
We hear a lot about international adoptions in the media. International adoptions usually involved children in orphanages whose birth parents couldn’t care for them. Although being adopted by an American family gave a child a chance to grow up in a family, often the child’s family and medical history were murky. An adoptive family may have been unaware of any emotional, mental, or health issues until after the adoption process was completed.
International or Inter-country adoptions today are regulated through the Hague Adoption Convention. The United States is part of this treaty that protects children, birth parents, and adoptive families from foreign adoption scams and other unethical adoption practices.
This type of adoption is incredibly complex because you’re dealing with agencies in multiple countries with stringent requirements that the American adoptive family and foreign adoption agency must meet. While there is a greater chance that you’ll be matched more quickly with a child, there are still significant hurdles to clear before an international adoption can be finalized, and you can bring your child home.
Adoption agencies, such as Choosing Hope Adoptions, are licensed and regulated by the state. These agencies are often nonprofit or social service organizations that match a child (and their birth parents) with an adoptive family.
Adopting an infant or child through an agency offers the best chance that your family will be matched with a child whose birth family shares your values and dreams for the child’s future. Most agency adoptions nowadays are “open,” meaning the birth parents’ information is disclosed to the adoptive family prior to the adoption. In many cases, the birth family stays in contact with their child and the adoptive family, though this is not a requirement and depends primarily on the wishes of the birth mother.
Ethical agencies put equal emphasis on the needs of the child, the birth mother, and the adoptive family. Birth moms are provided with a stipend to help with housing costs and prenatal care. And many agencies provide birth families with low- or no-cost legal assistance.
Agency adoptions are a lengthy and often very expensive process. If you can, work with a nonprofit agency that engages in alternative fundraising efforts. This helps them keep adoption costs to a minimum.
The Difference Between Closed and Open Adoption
We mentioned “open” adoptions above. Let’s explore the difference between a closed adoption and an open one.
Characteristics of a Closed Adoption
- No identifying information is shared between the birth and adoption families. An adoptive family may only receive general, non-identifying information about the child and its birth family prior to placement for adoption.
- Once the child is placed with the adoptive family, there is no communication between the birth family and the child’s adopted family.
- Adoption records are sealed. Current Ohio law stipulates that the records may be obtained once the adopted child reaches age 21 (provided the adoption occurred after September 18, 1996). Adopted children who are between the ages of 18-21 will need their adoptive parents to request their records on their behalf.
Characteristics of an Open Adoption
- The birth mother (and sometimes other family members) meets and establishes a relationship with the adoptive family prior to the child’s birth or placement.
- Birth and adoptive families often remain in contact after the child is adopted.
- The adopted child can learn about its family history, including understanding why the birth mother placed them for adoption.
- The birth mother has more of an opportunity to influence her child’s future.
Which Adoption Option is Right for You?
As you can see, adoption can take on many forms, and we were only able to cover a few here. Of the available options, we believe that an open adoption through an ethical agency like Choosing Hope Adoptions offers all parties—the child, birth mom, and adoptive family—the best chance for a “happily ever after.” If your family is hoping to adopt a child, or if you’re pregnant and considering adoption for your child, reach out to us.