What is Independent Adoption? Is it the Right Choice for Us?

Both agency and independent adoptions offer unique benefits, and only you can research and choose which might be better for your family

Stacey Stark June 18, 2018
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More and more families are choosing to pursue independent adoptions rather than using a licensed child placement agency. The reasons for doing so are varied and include things like flexibility and cost, but your first order of business before considering independent adoption is checking your state’s laws.

Most states allow for the adoption of an infant to occur utilizing only the services of an attorney, but a handful of states require the involvement of a licensed child-placing adoption agency. Some states also have laws governing the use of advertising by hopeful adoptive parents seeking to privately match with an expectant mother. Knows your laws and seek the advice of a qualified adoption attorney.

If you live in a state that does allow independent adoption, what do you need to know?

Independent adoption has pros and cons. Expectant mothers and hopeful adoptive parents alike are turning to independent matches for many reasons, including the freedom and flexibility that both parties might experience. A pregnant mother considering an adoption plan might wish to choose a family from a much wider range of options than one specific agency might provide. With an independent adoption (and no agency involvement), each party has greater freedom and flexibility to form a relationship organically and directly.

An adoption attorney will be well versed in the legalities involved, but attorneys are not social workers or counselors. Expectant mothers and adoptive parents all need access to qualified counseling and support both pre- and post-placement. Without an agency to provide these services, adoptive parents will need to take initiative themselves to ensure the expectant mother is provided counseling throughout the process. Because adoption is a lifetime journey and not a one-time occurrence, everyone (including the future adoptee) will need access to education and support for the long haul. This isn’t one area to cut corners.

Independent adoption can potentially cost less, but that shouldn’t be the goal. Many hopeful adoptive parents are foregoing the expensive services of an agency and searching for an adoption match themselves to save money. This is a reasonable goal—after all, the largest chunk of expenses does tend to go towards agency fees. But is this a good thing?

In some cases, an independent adoption might not necessarily cost less. A qualified adoption attorney should know your state’s laws as far as what expenses are allowable and necessary for your situation (read more important information on “birth mother” expenses here). It is wise to also be on guard for fraudulent situations, which seem to be much more frequent with more private, online contacts (through Facebook pages, for example).

If an independent adoption will save you from paying high agency fees, that should not be the sole reason for pursuing one. Adoption is a permanent process with lifetime ramifications for real people, so what is cheaper should not be the primary pull.

Our family has experienced both an independent adoption and an agency adoption, and each process was unique and had its own benefits. You are the only one able to choose which route is right for you after thoughtfully researching the possibilities.

If you have completed a private adoption, what were some of the benefits? Is there anything you would do differently?

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Stacey Stark

Stacey lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and is mom to two young kiddos via local, open, domestic infant adoption (did you catch all that?). She works part-time as a nonprofit bookkeeper, and spends the rest of her time going on adventures with her family, reading, and drinking lots of coffee. She is passionate about openness in adoption, and you can connect with her further on Facebook or Instagram.

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