While children are being adopted daily, each type of adoption has its own regulations and process, as well as opportunities and restrictions on birth and adoptive families meeting or staying in touch after the adoption has been finalized.
DOMESTIC ADOPTION
PRIVATE ADOPTION is also called independent, identified or private agency adoption. Prospective adoptive parent(s) hire attorneys and agencies to provide needed services. Families may adopt in their state of residence or another state in the United States. If adopting from “out of state,” Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children must approve the relocation of the child and must follow legal regulations in both states. The majority of private adoptions are of newborn infants.
In an INDEPENDENT ADOPTION the prospective adoptive parent(s) locates a birth parent or child by networking, word of mouth, advertising or the Internet. Every state has its own regulations regarding independent adoption, with birth and adoptive parents represented by attorneys who handle the legal adoption process. You can locate an adoption attorney here.
IDENTIFIED ADOPTION is the same as an independent adoption, but reflects the process of the birth and adoptive parents identifying one another (having made contact), and then asking a licensed adoption agency to handle the adoption.
An AGENCY ADOPTION typically involves the agency matching/introducing birth and adoptive parents and then providing needed services during the adoption process. Agencies are licensed or approved by the state authority in their state. You can find an adoption agency here.
There are several additional types of domestic adoption. KINSHIP ADOPTION is the adopting of a family member. It may be done privately or through foster care. SECOND PARENT ADOPTION is the adoption of the child of a domestic or same-sex partner. STEP PARENT ADOPTION is the adoption of a child by the spouse of the legal parent of the child.
Children of all ages are adopted. Many are newborns, but there is no age cutoff for a domestic adoption, including the adoption of adults over the age of 21. For all of the above adoptions, the adopting family is responsible for the costs associated with the adoption.
FOSTER CARE TO ADOPT
Foster care is regulated by each state’s Department of Social Services. As children enter the public foster care system, a plan is set in place. The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their parents or a family member. When this is not possible or does not happen within a set period of time (often 2 years), the plan is set at finding a permanent home (adoption) for the child. Parental rights will be terminated by a local court, freeing the child for adoption. The foster family who has been caring for the child will be asked if they wish to adopt. If not, a family in the child’s present community may be sought, prior to seeking another family through the foster care system. This is in an effort to limit the changes in the child’s life.
Once an adoption goal is set and the child is in the pre-adoptive home, there is a 6 month adjustment period to make sure the family can meet the child’s needs and the child is adjusting. Local social services will monitor the home during this period and make a recommendation for finalization of the adoption.
Children in foster care are between newborn and 18 years of age. A foster family may be eligible for a monthly stipend to provide for the child’s needs. This stipend may continue after the adoption, up to the child’s 18th birthday. Information on financial assistance may be found here.
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
International adoption is regulated by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the state of the prospective family’s legal residence. For every adoption, the prospective parents must work with an Adoption Service Provider in the U.S., who will oversee the adoption in the U.S. and overseas. Each Adoption Service Provider (accredited agency or approved attorney) may have additional requirements and restrictions. In addition, every country has its own adoption rules and regulations, which include which children are eligible for adoption and eligibility of prospective adoptive parents.
For each international adoption, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must apply to USCIS to be approved to adopt, apply to a local adoption agency that will assist with the application in the country from which the child will be adopted, and submit an additional application to USICS to immigrate the child to the U.S. There will also be the legal court process in the country of origin or once back in the U.S. If adopted overseas, the child will automatically become a U.S. citizen upon arrival in the U.S. If finalized in the U.S., an application for citizenship will need to be completed after finalization.
Children must meet age and other requirements to be eligible for adoption, both in the country of origin and in the U.S. In an international adoption, the adopting family is responsible for all costs associated with the adoption.
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