What Are the Different Types of Adoption?

In the U.S., those hoping to adopt have two basic options and types, whether choosing to adopt domestically (in the U.S.) or internationally (from another country). There are different kinds of adoptions in both of these categories: agency and independent.

Agency Adoptions

Adoptions agencies are intermediaries between birth and adoptive parents. There are two general kinds of agencies:

Independent Adoptions

These are identified or designated adoptions where prospective adopting and prospective placing parents have located each other themselves (allowed in most states, and some agencies will assist with these placements). This can happen in a variety of ways:

Since adoption laws in the state where you live govern your options, you must know what types of placements are allowed or not allowed by your state’s laws. If you pursue an adoption across state lines, you must comply with the laws in both states before the child can join your family. States have enacted interstate compacts or legislation that governs how children can be placed across state lines.

For international adoptions, laws, and regulations of your own state, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS, formerly INS), the U.S. State Department, and the laws of the specific country will apply.

In weighing your options, you should evaluate your ability to tolerate risk. Here are the relative levels of assurance offered by the above options:

In addition to the risk factors above, other considerations in selecting the type of adoption you pursue can include




Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.