Considering Adoption

Choosing Adoption

Just as with any other important decision in your life, you need to do some research and make a plan. When you are planning an adoption, you must consider your baby first, but also the desires that you have for this adoption.

Here are some topics to think about, which may help you make an informed decision about adoption. Talking these things over with someone you trust may be helpful, too. A supportive relative or friend, or an adoption counselor or attorney may help you think these things through while you are making your adoption plan.

Adoption choices

Years ago almost all adoptions were conducted in secrecy with no contact between the birthparents and the adoptive parents. These are known as a closed adoption. Today, however, most birthparents meet the couple who will adopt their baby, and make arrangements for some type of ongoing contact over the years.

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Closed adoption means that there is no contact at all between the birthparents and the adoptive parents, and no identifying information is exchanged.

Semi-open adoptions involve agencies or other intermediaries who may pass correspondence between the two parties before or after the adoption, but they will not give out any contact information to either party. If you prefer not to correspond with the adoptive parents, that choice is yours.

Open adoption offers a wide variety of contact choices, but the basic understanding is that there is open communication between the birthparents and the adoptive parents, both before and after the birth. Open adoption can include the exchange of letters and photos; face-to-face, first-names-only meetings; sharing full-identifying information; and having access on an ongoing basis. The type of communication or contact, the frequency of communication, and any adjustments are worked out between the birthparents and the adoptive parents,often with the help of an intermediary, such as an adoption social worker, attorney, or adoption counselor. Be aware that choosing an open adoption does not mean that you are co-parenting the child. The adoptive parents will be your baby's legal parents and guardians.

Today, birthparents can select the parents they wants to raise her children. Often agencies and attorneys will show birthparents a selection of profiles and photos of couples.Online profiles of couples hoping to adopt, like Parent Profiles,offer introductions and photos, allowing parents or expectant parents who are making an adoption plan the opportunity to read these introductions, study their profiles and pictures, and then initiate contact by e-mail or telephone.

Visit our Unplanned Pregnancy Options Guide for more information.

Adoption Basics

Adoption is a legal process that creates a new, permanent parent-child relationship where one didn't exist before. The adoption proceedings take place in court before a Judge.

Adoption bestows on the adoptive parent(s) all the rights and responsibilities of a legal parent and gives the child being adopted all the social, emotional, and legal rights and responsibilities of a family member. Sometimes, court language will include the words "as if born to" to describe the new parent-child relationship. Before parental rights are assumed by adoptive parents, the court determines that biological parents have, legally and with full understanding, either voluntarily relinquished their parental rights, or that those rights have been terminated by the court. Depending on the circumstances and state laws, these two actions - the severing of biological parents' rights and the bestowing of parental rights on the adoptive parents - may be done at the same time, at finalization.

During the court finalization hearing, the judge reviews information about the child, the biological parent(s), and the adopting parent(s). This information can include:

  • Homestudy and/or other evaluation of the adopting parent(s) and their suitability for the child
  • Reports of pre-adoption counseling and education for both placing and adopting parents
  • Case workers' notes and recommendations
  • Other reports.

Those who appear at the finalization hearing (either separately or together), in addition to the Judge, may include, but are not limited to:

  • Adopting parent(s)
  • Their attorney
  • Placing parent(s)
  • Their attorney
  • The child/ren
  • The child's legal advocate and/or case worker
  • Adoptive parents' case worker
  • Placing parents' case worker

The Judge reviews all supporting information about the adopting and placing families, and may ask questions of all parties, including the child/ren if they are able to communicate their feelings and wishes. The Judge will then approve or disapprove the petition to adopt.

If approved, the adoption is finalized and an Adoption Decree is issued.

In most U.S. jurisdictions, at the time the adoption is finalized, the child's name is legally changed, and the court orders the issuance of a new, amended birth certificate for the adopted child. This amended birth certificate:

  • replaces the name(s) of the biological parent(s) with the names of the adoptive parent(s), and
  • replaces the child's birth name with his/her new name.

The original birth certificate and other documents relating to the adoption are sealed, and are generally not available to parties to the adoption, as detailed in state law in the U.S.

For international adoptions, U.S. federal and state laws must be observed, as well as the laws and regulations of each country. Depending on the country and the immigrant visa issued for the child, a finalization process may need to be completed in the adoptive parents' home state.

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Credits: Nancy S Ashe