Domestic Adoption: The Types of Adoption Available in America
There are many variations in types of adoption. Below we break-down the possibilities and options available.
Domestic versus International Adoption
The first option is domestic adoption versus international adoption. For those in the US, domestic adoption involves adopting from within the 50 states or U.S. territories. International adoption refers to a situation in which a child is born outside of the U.S. but brought to live in this country.
Closed Adoption versus Open Adoption
The next major distinction is a closed adoption versus an open adoption.
A closed adoption is an adoption in which no identifying information about the birthfamily or the adoptive family is shared between the two. Additionally, there is no contact between birthparents and adoptive parents. The adoptive family usually receives non-identifying information about the child and the birthfamily before placement. In a closed adoption, after finalization, the records are sealed. Depending on local law and what paperwork was signed and filed at the finalization these records may or may not be available to the adopted child upon their 18th birthday.
An open adoption allows for some form of association between the birthfamily, adoptees, and adoptive parents. This can range from picture and letter sharing, to phone calls, contact through an intermediary, or open contact between the parties themselves. Many adoptions of older children and teens are at least partially open, since the children may know identifying or contact information about members of their birthfamilies, or may want to stay in touch with siblings placed separately.
Agency versus Private Adoption
The next major distinction is an agency adoption versus a private adoption. An agency adoption is one that is arranged by a public or private adoption agency. This is as opposed to a private adoption which is arranged through an intermediary such as a lawyer, physician, or other facilitator, rather than through a licensed adoption agency.
Usually independent adoptions involve infants who are healthy or believed to be healthy. They often do not include counseling for the birthparents or parent preparation for the adoptive parents, and are not legal in all states. Children adopted through private adoptions are not usually eligible for adoption assistance for special needs that may not have been noticeable at birth.Such adoptions can be open adoptions, but this is not always the case. Private adoptions should not be confused with private agency adoptions.
A special type of agency adoption is foster adoption aka fost-adopt. This is a form of adoption in which a child is placed into a home as a foster child, with the expectation that the child will become legally free and be adopted by the foster parents. Also, children may be adopted directly from the foster care system without the period of fostering.
To find out state-specific information you may contact the people listed onthis chart directly, when you are ready to find an agency please visit AdoptMatch our matching pary.
This section has covered the major distinctions in the types of adoptions available in American adoption. Other terms you may hear are: second-parent adoption, sibling group adoption, special needs adoption, step-parent adoption, transcultural adoption, transracial adoption and kinship adoption. Full definitions are available in our Glossary.
For information on adopting a child from a foreign country, call the
Office of Children's Issues, United State Department of State, 888-407-4747
To navigate the website and locate information by country:
- Use the drop-down box on the left side of the screen to select the country in which the child resides.
- Choose from a variety of topics, including:
- Who can adopt
- Who can be adopted
- How to adopt
- Traveling abroad
- After adoption
- Contact information
For specific information on immigration and adoption, please visit
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 800-375-5283