Domestic Infant Adoption
Domestic Infant Adoption
Adoption can be a positive option for all members of the triad; infants placed for adoption can grow up in a loving family, birth parents who are not ready to parent are given the opportunity to move forward with their lives with the assurance that their children have stable, loving, and permanent families, and adoptive parents open their hearts and homes to a child to provide the unconditional love every child deserves. In the end, our whole society benefits when children thrive in nurturing, permanent families.
Since our founding in 1980, approximately three million adoptions have occurred in the United States - including all domestic adoptions that take place annually. Through adoption, these children have enjoyed the love and security that come with having a loving, permanent family of their own.
Adoption is the legal process by which parental rights and responsibilities are transferred from one parent or set of parents to another, with the purpose of ensuring that the child placed for adoption has all the benefits of a loving, permanent family if his or her birthparents choose to make an adoption plan. In a domestic infant adoption, both the child to be adopted and his or her potential adoptive parent(s) are citizens and residents of the same country.
National Council For Adoption believes that infant adoption can be a positive option for children as well as expectant parents facing an unintended pregnancy. Expectant parents may choose to make an adoption plan as one way of ensuring that their child has a stable, loving, and permanent family. NCFA believes that accurate adoption information should be included as part of a complete options counseling program, and that expectant parents considering adoption have the right to receive knowledgeable, professional counseling both before and after an adoption takes place. We advocate for pre-adoption education for prospective adoptive parents and post-adoption support services to help adoptive families thrive once a child is placed in their homes.
- As of 2007, the last year for which NCFA collected and assembled nationwide adoption data, there were approximately 133,737 domestic adoptions annually in the United States, broken down as follows1:
- Children of all ages who were adopted by relative(s): 57,248
- Children of all ages who were adopted by non-relative(s), including adoptions via foster care or other private placements: 76,489
- Adoptions of children with special needs: 32,402
- Domestic infant adoptions: 18,078
- Approximately 1% of pregnant, unmarried women choose adoption
- Two-thirds of Americans have had a personal experience with adoption, whether they know someone who was adopted, have adopted a child, or have placed a child for adoption2
- Approximately 7% of the American population is adopted3
- Four in 10 Americans have considered adopting a child4
- In a recent survey, 78% of respondents held the opinion that the U.S. should do more to promote and encourage adoption5
- The cost of a domestic infant adoption in the U.S. can range from $7,000 to $40,000.
- P. Placek, “National Adoption Data Assembled by the National Council For Adoption,” Adoption Factbook V, 2011
- National Adoption Survey, 2002
- National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, 2004
- Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, 2010
- Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, 2010
The first focus of an adoption is to ensure that a child has a safe, loving family to call his or her own. In domestic infant adoption, expectant parents make an adoption plan for their child and parental rights of a child are transferred to adoptive parents. A basic outline of what the process looks like for expectant and adoptive parents is provided below.
Expectant Parents/Birth Parents
- Options counseling: Information should be provided to expectant parents about all pregnancy options, including adoption. Resources about adoption, including referral information for local adoption professionals, should be readily available.
- Referral: An adoption agency, social worker, or attorney who specializes in adoption can give you more information about the adoption process and provide counseling to help expectant parents consider whether an adoption plan is the best option for them.
- Making an adoption plan: Expectant parents should think about the type of adoption they would prefer, and receive counseling and information to help them decide what degree of openness they would like in their adoption, the traits they want their child’s adoptive parent(s) to possess, and details about their birth and hospital experience.
- Choosing adoptive parents: In an open adoption, expectant parents considering adoption will view profiles of qualified adoptive parents and can ask to talk with them on the phone or meet in person. In confidential adoptions, expectant parents can ask their agency to choose a qualified family based on their preferences.
- Birth: The mother gives birth, and the child is generally placed in the care of the adoptive family upon leaving the hospital. Sometimes a mother might request additional time with her child after her hospital stay is completed.
- Relinquishment/consent: Birth parents sign documents legalizing the adoption plan and transferring parental rights to the adoptive parents.
- Post-adoption: Birth parents should continue to receive counseling after the adoption. Depending on the degree of openness chosen, birth parents may continue to have a relationship with the child and the adoptive parents. The vast majority of domestic infant adoptions in the U.S. now have some degree of openness/contact between birth parents, children, and adoptive families.
Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs)
- Contact: PAPs contact an agency or social worker to gather more information so they can decide whether or not to pursue adoption. They might attend information sessions or have an introductory meeting with agency staff.
- Application and homestudy: Application paperwork is completed, and a homestudy is conducted to gather legal, financial, and psychological information about the adoptive parents in order to to determine whether they can care for a child.
- Create a profile: Approved prospective adoptive parents create a profile for expectant parents to review and consider whether they would be a good match for a potential adoptive placement.
- Matched: Expectant parents making an adoption plan (or sometimes the agency) choose potential adoptive parents for the child.
- Birth: The expectant mother gives birth, and usually at that time or very shortly after the child is placed with the adoptive parents with the birth parents’ consent.
- Placement: The child lives with the adoptive parents while the legal process is finalized and supervisory visits are made by the adoption agency.
- Finalization: The adoption is finalized when the court transfers full parental rights to the adoptive parents and creates a new birth certificate listing them as the legal parents.
Adoption Advocate No. 140 – Choosing an Adoption Professional
Adoption Advocate No. 126 – Expectant Parents’ Adoption Planning Bill of Rights
Adoption Advocate No. 122 – Post-Adoption Contact Agreements: To Promote Court-Enforceability or Not?
Adoption Advocate No. 113 – Lessons from a Birth Mother: The Importance of Post-Adoption Support
Adoption Advocate No. 96 – Considering Birth Fathers: Ensuring Rights and Inclusion for Fathers Before Adoption Placement
Adoption Advocate No. 88 – Is Anyone Out There?: Finding Support as a Birth Mother
Adoption Advocate No. 52 – Educating Hospitals About Adoption: How Hospital Staff Can Support Parents Considering an Adoption Plan
Adoption Advocate No. 41 – My Perspective on Open Adoption and Recommendations for Birthparents
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