Independent Adoptions (Glossary)

Independent Adoptions: These adoptions are arranged by an intermediary other than an adoption agency, such as a lawyer or a physician. The intermediary may find the birth mother for the adoptive parents, or may help the birth mother locate adoptive parents that would be interested in adopting her child. Independent adoptions are not legally permitted in all states.

Independent adoption is legal in most states; however, each state has its own laws regarding independent adoption. Most independent adoptions are completed by an adoption attorney or an adoption facilitator. Currently, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware and Massachusetts do not allow for independent adoptions. Within the United States, more newborns are placed with forever families through independent adoption than through an adoption agency.

Most independent adoptions are identified adoptions. An identified adoption is where adoptive parents find or have found a potential birth mother and they have decided on an adoption plan between them. The other type of independent adoption is where an organization/facilitator matches a potential birth family with perspective adoptive parents. Most potential adoptive parents choose independent adoption over an agency adoption because of the feeling of having more control over the process. Quite often they have found and matched themselves with a potential birth mother. They may network on a parent profile or family profile website, they may advertise in their home newspaper (if allowed by their state), some host their own website and other find their match just through word of mouth with family and friends.

Some reasons for choosing independent are that the potential adoptive parents don't have to fit into the rules that an agency has placed on who they will allow to adopt. Some agencies have age limits, length of marriage restrictions, and other criteria that would disallow an adoption whereas by going independent those restrictions don't come into play. Pregnant women may choose independent over an agency adoption because she felt she also was in control through being part of the matching process as well as the fact that medical bills can be paid exclusively through the potential adoptive parents as well as other expenses that an agency may not allow or regulate. Payments made to potential birth mothers for these types of expenses are regulated by state law and whether going through an agency or independent these laws must be taken into consideration. Lastly, a significant reason for choosing independent is that most likely, the time frame to finalize an adoption is a shorter period of time verses being on a waiting list or on a profile page through an agency.

Another difference in independent adoption verses agency adoption is that in an independent adoption the potential birth mother relinquishes her rights to the child straight to the potential adoptive parents while if they had gone through an agency, the child would have been relinquished to the agency first, then on to the adoptive parents.

There are several fears of potential adoptive parents and pregnant women in regards to independent adoption. Usually in an independent adoption, the pregnant woman has more interaction with the potential adoptive parents and the potential adoptive parents tend to have more emotional and financial investment wrapped up in an independent adoption and if the pregnant woman decides to parent towards the end of the pregnancy or after giving birth it can be more of an intense loss for the potential adoptive parents and a much harder decision for the potential birth mother to make her decision.

Because independent adoptions are just that - independent - costs relating to an independent adoption vary from one end to the spectrum to the other. State to state variances also happen based on state law concerning payments to potential birth mothers.

It is important with independent adoptions to make sure whomever you use to facilitate the adoption to research them and their background with adoptions. The last thing a pregnant woman and the potential adoptive parents want is for their adoption to fail because the adoption attorney or facilitator has failed them in the process.