Welcoming a new member to the family through adoption is a big, life-changing step. Whether adoptive families have a specific child or adoption method in mind, no two adoptions look precisely the same.
Depending on the circumstances, parents looking to adopt have several options available to them, each with varying financial, legal, relational and time-bound considerations.
1. Private adoption
Many would-be parents or guardians seek private adoption arrangements, often through an adoption agency, when growing their family. Parents may also draft a private, independent adoption agreement directly with birth parents without going through an agency.
2. Foster care adoption
Children in the child welfare system are eligible for adoption following the termination of parental rights, which may be due to abandonment, neglect or abuse. Foster children can range in age from infant to age 17 and may involve two or more siblings adopted together in the same arrangement.
3. Kinship adoption
If a parent or guardian is no longer able to care for a child, a relative may opt to adopt him or her. Common kinship adoption arrangements include aunts or uncles adopting nieces or nephews, and grandparents adopting grandchildren. Courts and welfare services prefer these arrangements over other forms of adoption for children with caring, close relatives.
4. Step-parent adoption
In these arrangements, a child’s biological parents both agree to transfer parental rights to one parent’s legal spouse. Step-parents may only adopt a child if the child’s non-custodial parent relinquishes all of his or her rights and responsibilities, at which time the step-parent becomes the child’s legal parent.
5. International adoption
Growing in prevalence, parents seek international adoptions to bring a new addition to their family from another country. These adoptions can be expensive and require a great deal of paperwork in order to establish citizenship for the adoptee.