Depending on the needs of the birth parents, adoptive parents, and child, parties to an adoption have several different types of adoption to choose from. FindLaw’s Types of Adoption sub-section includes a variety of articles and resources about the different types of adoption, which will help prospective parents and others involved in the process make informed decisions. An adoption may be brokered through an agency or independently, while children may be adopted locally or internationally. Articles cover such topics as adopting as a same-sex couple, kinship (or relative) adoptions, adoption of a stepchild by a parent’s new spouse, the pros and cons of the various different kinds of adoption, and more.
Agency v. Independent Adoption
Adoption through either a public or private agency is common. Private agencies provide support and counseling. They are also selective about who they represent though, and may limit availability to the wealthy, or those of a particular religion, among other potential limiting factors. Public agencies provide less support and often deal with older children, those with special needs, and children with troubled backgrounds. Agency adoptions generally involve children and adoptive parents who are unrelated.
Independent adoptions frequently involve closer personal relationships. Adoptive parents may form a relationship with the child's birth parents. Independent adoptions are frequently more restrictive than agency adoptions, with more reporting and oversight imposed on adoptive parents. Four states, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and North Dakota forbid independent adoptions and parents in those states must complete an "agency-directed" adoption that introduces the oversight of an agency into the proceeding.
Open v. Closed Adoption
Open adoption refers to situations in which the birth parents establish and sometimes maintain a relationship with the child's adoptive parents. In some open adoptions the agency involved will prepare and present biographies of prospective adoptive parents and the birth parents determine which family they are most comfortable with. Meetings may occur during pregnancy and some relationships continue after the adoption is complete.
Closed adoptions involve little or no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. International adoptions are frequently closed adoptions. Closed adoptions usually result in a sealed file that preserves the confidentiality of the information relating to the adoption. Most states have procedures in place that permit the opening of a sealed file of this sort, though procedures vary greatly between states.
When a stepparent wishes to adopt their spouse's child there is less difficulty and fewer steps than encountered in other adoptive situations. Courts remove many obstacles in acknowledgement of the close relationships of all parties prior to adoption. The largest obstacle is typically obtaining the consent of the birth parent to the termination of their parental rights. Where the birth parent is resistant evidence of their abandonment of the child, unfitness, or failure to provide child support may be used to terminate their rights regardless of their wishes.
Laws or policies that discriminate against same-sex couples have faced a series of largely successful legal challenges in recent years and it seems likely that the trend will continue. Regardless, same-sex couples have historically faced resistance to their attempts to adopt children. Given the contentiousness surrounding same-sex rights new legislation and legal challenges are likely.