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What Are the Different Ways to Adopt a Child?

Today we are going to cover the two different ways you can adopt a child and the different avenues for adopting. Between my three colleagues and myself, we have adopted internationally, domestically, through private agencies and public agencies, through non-profit agencies and attorneys. It can be mind-boggling! This lesson will help you make sense of all the ways to adopt that are available to you.

The first way to adopt is domestic adoption. If you choose to adopt in the United States, it’s called a Domestic Adoption.

If you do choose to adopt out of your state, that is also a Domestic Adoption. And there will be an additional legal requirement you will have to satisfy and that is the Interstate Compact. The ICP requires that families comply with the laws of their own state and of the sending state (where the child lives). For example, sometimes people find older waiting children on websites like AdoptUsKids – so they would have to comply with the Interstate Compact. And some people who adopt privately end up going to another state – again they would have to comply with the laws of their own state and of the sending state, like where the child lives...

The interstate compact requirement has been around for years and adoption professionals are really adept at getting each state’s requirements met. But now it could add travel and time to your compliance list.

Within domestic adoption, there are categories that you need to know about: public, private, independent adoption avenues.

First is the public agency path. This is through your state’s Department of Child Welfare or Child Services. There you will likely find the foster to adopt programs, foster programs, or special needs and wait for children.

Next is a Licensed Private Agency Adoption – let’s break that down to non-profit – Jewish, Lutheran, or Catholic charities are examples. They often are contracted by the Department of Child Welfare to do their work. These non-profit agencies can be a gateway to different types of adoption including international adoption. Licensed private agencies often have a heightened sense of ethics and can often have strong relationships with countries that they have developed over the years. Both my colleague and I have experienced such adoptions, particularly with Jewish Family services partnering with Colombia and Lutheran Social Services partnering with the Philippines.

The other avenue is licensed private agencies that operate independently. They still have licenses by the state and could be for profit. They can have their own requirements for their families. An example of this is a family I coached that discovered from their search for agencies, they did find one but while their state would accept gay couples for adoption, this agency would not. So these agencies satisfy the state requirements but additionally, they may have their own requirements to meet.

Finally, there is the avenue of finding an attorney and/or facilitator to help you. Even though this may seem like an easier route with less red tape, adopting without the proper formalities is a definite no-go. And if someone is promising you a child in your arms without going through the legal hoops or they are charging a great deal of money upfront, that should give you. There are a whole lot of ways that things could go wrong.

If you are not adopting within the US then it is an international adoption.

People choose to adopt internationally for a variety of reasons – it might be less expensive depending on what kind of domestic adoption you are comparing it to. Sometimes more children are waiting to be placed in a particular country, or for some reason the prospective parents were closed out of domestic adoptions as was the case with my husband already having two children became a limiting factor for us as a couple.

As we speak, the availability of children through international adoption is changing. For the health and well-being of children, countries are seeing the importance of promoting adoption within their own country. For instance, several years ago, Ukraine announced that there would be no out-of-country adoptions unless there is a health or medical issue for younger children OR the child is 6 years old or older.

Countries are required to comply with the Hague Convention. That’s protection for the child against trafficking, an agreement that should be honored by the agency with whom you are working. Our experience has been that United States agencies that have solid relationships with certain countries i.e. Lutheran Social Services with the Philippines can help to ensure that the children truly need homes.

I know that I threw a lot of information at you today. The feeling of overwhelm that you may be experiencing right now is a feeling you probably will feel throughout the adoption process. So, it doesn’t hurt to practice it now, right?

Between now and your next lesson – select two types of adoption and two avenues of adoption that might appeal to you. Identify and research at least three agencies and/or attorneys in your area that might offer these types of adoption. Write down what interests you about the agencies and what questions you may have if you were to explore adoption with them.

Next week, we will get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about who really is in control when you adopt? I look forward to being with you next time!