Sometimes, couples who are expecting a baby but aren’t able to care for the child make an adoption plan. This allows someone else to raise the child.
What is adoption?
Adoption is when a child’s birth parents give up legal rights to the child, and someone else raises the child. Adoption is permanent. Rules about adoption vary by state. To learn about the rules in your state, contact your local family or human services agency, or go to "Infant Adoption Awareness: State Laws."
The following are the 2 main types of adoption:
- Open: In this type of adoption, the birth parents have direct contact with the adoptive parents before and after the adoption. The birth parents decide how much information they want to know or share. Together with the adoptive parents, they also decide how much contact they want with the adoptive parents and the child.
- Closed: In this type of adoption, the birth parents may be given some non-identifying information about the adoptive parents, such as their ages or their jobs. But the birth parents do not know specific information about the adoptive parents, such as their names or where they live. In a closed adoption, the adoptive parents are given information about the birth parents that might help them take care of the child, such as medical or family history. However, the adoptive parents do not know the names of the birth parents, where they live or any other information that would identify who the birth parents are.
How do adoptions work?
Adoptions are usually handled by adoption agencies. These agencies help place children with adoptive parents. They screen people who want to adopt. This means that they interview them, check their backgrounds and spend time with them to make sure they are ready to raise a child. Adoption agencies also help birth parents with medical care, support and counseling. There are public and private adoption agencies. All of them must be licensed by the government.
Do all adoptions go through an agency?
No. Some adoptions are not handled by an agency. These are called “independent adoptions” and are handled by lawyers. Typically, the adoptive parents and the birth parents each hire a lawyer to represent them. It is important to find a lawyer who has experience handling adoptions. Independent adoptions are not legal in all states, so be sure to check your state’s laws if you are considering this type of adoption.
In an independent adoption, the adoptive parents usually pay the birth mother’s hospital and medical bills until the baby is born. Some also pay for her living expenses during the pregnancy. States that allow independent adoptions have strict laws about what the adoptive parents can pay for and what they cannot.
Can relatives adopt?
Yes, but they have to go through the same evaluations as other adoptive parents.
Can birth parents see the baby after the birth?
Birth parents are usually allowed to see the baby in the hospital. They should check with the adoption agency or lawyer handling the adoption before the baby is born.
How soon is a baby placed in the adoptive home?
It is different from state to state. In most states, there is usually a waiting period of at least 48 hours. The birth parents are then asked to sign a form that ends their rights as parents. After they sign the form, the baby is given to the adoptive parents. In some states, the adoptive parents and the birth parents have a certain amount of time to change their minds about the adoption. But once the adoption is legally approved, it is permanent.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff