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Adoption - Questions and Answers Please feel free to contact me, Dr Vince Berger, at Adoption Services if you have any questions or if we can help you in any way Adoption - Questions and Answers
Adoption - Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers
for Adoption Families

We are here to help you in your search for information regarding adopting a child. If you have any questions for which you cannot find answers on our websites, please feel free to give us a call.

Questions and Answers

The questions and answers below represent only a small sampling of those that we frequently are asked to address.  This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but may help you get started.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

How are a private adoption and an agency adoption different?

With an agency adoption you are working with an adoption agency that is licensed and screened by the state for your safety. In a private adoption you are working directly with an attorney, with some other individual, or with a referral service or adoption facilitator who in all likelihood is not licensed and who received little or no screening from state authorities. In many states the ending of parental rights is different and takes longer in a private adoption than in an agency adoption. Note that for either and agency adoption or private adoption you will need to have a Home Study and will need to comply with all state and federal adoption laws.

Can we save money by proceeding with a private adoption instead of hiring a child adoption agency?

In many instances you can save money but I know of very many cases where the adopting family has paid significantly more for a private adoption.  I also know of all too many cases where an adopting family has lost thousands of dollars in a private adoption and have nothing to show for their loss except their pain.  Also be aware that while in most states you can conduct a private adoption, a few states have outlawed them and require an agency adoption.  In general a private adoption is considered more of a risk for both the birth mother and you.  An agency adoption can offer protections and services that are not obtained in a private adoption.  I suggest you carefully read about agency and private adoptions and that you proceed with a licensed child adoption agency.  If you do proceed privately, make sure to work with an attorney that specializes in adoption.

Can you briefly summarize the different types of child adoption?

The types of adoption can be classified several different ways.  In general there are agency adoptions that are done with the assistance of a licensed adoption agency and private adoptions that are done through an attorney or other private individual.  Another way to classify adoptions is to say they are either a domestic adoption (where the child is a citizen of the same country as the adopting family) or an international adoption (the child's citizenship is different than that of the adopting persons).  Domestic adoptions can be further broken down into an intrastate or interstate adoption, a step-parent adoption, or an adoption of a blood relative.

How can my new husband adopt my daughter?

You are asking about the most common type of adoption, step-parent adoption.  In a step-parent adoption the biological parent who is being "replaced" must have their rights ended before the child can be adopted by the new parent.  You will need the help of an adoption attorney or family law attorney to end the biological parents rights and then to help with the adoption itself.

Does an open adoption mean we have to allow visits with the birth mother?

No. Very simply an open adoption is where identifying information is shared between the birth mother and the adopting family. In a closed adoption specific identifying information is not provided to either party.  Many, if not most, open adoptions do not have ongoing steady contact with the birth parents although such contact can take place.  Whether visitation takes place depends on the state where the birth parents rights were ended, the conditions set forth at the time of placement, and the best interests of the child.

Is it safe to use an adoption facilitator rather than a child adoption agency?

The U.S. government advises against using an adoption facilitator and suggests that an adoption agency be used.  Additionally many states have laws restricting adoption facilitators. Please visit the following link for more information on child adoption facilitators. We advise you to work only with a licensed child adoption agency.

Can we work with an adoption agency not licensed in our state?

In almost all of the U.S. states the answer is yes.  However, some states (such as NY) make working with an out of state child adoption agency very difficult.  In general, you are not limited to only those adoption agencies within your state of residence. When you call agencies make sure to ask them if your state of residence presents a problem.

Where can we get a list of adoption agencies in our state and in other states?

Your state of residence has an adoption office or adoption contact person that can provide you with a list of licensed child adoption agencies. You can also click the link for domestic adoption agencies or international adoption agencies to see a list of child adoption agencies in your state.

How do I go about selecting an agency?

An adoption agency can be licensed, unlicensed, for profit or non-profit and can be public or private.  The most important thing for you to is to only work with a fully licensed non-profit child adoption agency. Call each agency to verify their status and to check on the types of adoption they conduct. Visit our link Selecting an Adoption Agency.

How long can we expect to wait before a child is placed with us?

The answer depends on what kind of adoption you are talking about (domestic or international), the race and age of the child, and any other restrictions you  may place on what the child needs to have or not have. The total time from start to finish can vary from a few months with a foster care adoption to several years with a healthy newborn. You will need to contact adoption agencies and ask each one what the waiting period is for the type of child you would like to adopt.

Where can we get help with the fees involved in an adoption?

Financial help for many types of adoption is available through state grants, loans, employer benefits, adoption tax credits, and federal adoption subsidies. Visit the links Financial help and adoption help for additional information about financial help and medical help.

Should we consider a biracial or transracial placement?

You should certainly consider it, but only if you have carefully thought about how the adoption of a biracial or transracial child will fit into your immediate family, extended family and community. Whether such an adoption is a good decision for you is a decision only you can make.

Can I adopt as a single man?

Adopting as a single man or single woman can be harder than adopting as a married couple; however, both single men and single woman are accepted by many domestic child adoption agencies.  In an international adoption many countries allow singles to adopt but they are much more strict in allowing single men as opposed to singe women.  Some countries like China do not allow singles to adopt?

I am 47 and my husband is 58.  Are we too old to adopt?

The U.S. states do not normally limit the age of an adopting person or couple.  However, many adoption agencies have age and other adoption requirements.  You will need to call several agencies until you find one that does not limit the age of the adopting persons.  Also be aware that a birth mother or birth father may put a limit on the age of the persons who will be adopting their child.  International adoption could be more of a problem since many countries have upper age limits on adopting persons.

How long does it take to end the parental rights of the birth mother and birth father?

The parental rights of both the birth mother and birth father must be ended in order for you to adopt a child.  The time needed to end their rights varies from immediately after the birth of the child up to 6-7 months.  Every state is different and almost every situation is different and that is one of the reasons you should have the help of an adoption agency or adoption attorney.  The links Birth Parents Rights and Adopting Family Rights may help you understand this issue.

What are the important child adoption laws?

We have created an entire website, ChildAdoptionLaws.com, just to deal with child adoption laws. The short answer is that for a domestic adoption you should be aware of the child adoption laws of your state, the laws ending the parental rights of the birth parents, the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and the Indian Child Welfare Act. In an international adoption you need to comply with your state laws, the laws of the U.S. government, the laws of the foreign country, and the requirements of the Hague Convention. Your child adoption agency or your adoption attorney can help you to understand the impact of these laws.

What countries should we consider in an international adoption?

At this time, the most popular countries for adopting a child internationally are China, Guatemala and Russia, but children from many other countries are also available for adoption.  Adoption from all three of the above mentioned countries have recently changed and each country has its own restrictions, policies, and processes.  Please visit the links for a China adoption and Guatemala adoption as well as Russia adoption and other countries adoption for additional information.

How long has your agency, Adoption Services, been in operation?

Adoption Services has been fully licensed since 1986.  We are a full- service, non-profit child adoption agency that is licensed in multiple states. We can help adopting persons living in any U.S. state or in a foreign country. We also have special services to help military personal and expatriates living abroad. Adoption Services can help with closed, open, intrastate, interstate, and international adoptions. Please visit our home page to read about our commitment to help you and all pregnant women and birth parents.

How can I get a copy of Dr. Berger's Adoption Manual?

Dr. Berger, the Founder and Director of Adoption Services, is a PhD psychologist who has been helping birth parents and families for almost 40 years.  He put much of his knowledge on this website and into the adoption self-help manual.  We were selling the manual for $35 but we now have it on our website.  You can click on the link adoption self-help manual and download it.  It is free to anyone who wants to download it.

What can we expect to pay for an adoption?

The answer depends on the type of adoption you are doing and several other variables.  Total adoption costs include not just your Home Study and agency fees, but also fees for criminal record and child abuse clearances, FBI clearances, attorney fees, birth mother and child medical fees, travel, and more.  Fees for a domestic adoption range from almost nothing in a foster care adoption to $60,000 or more with some agency and private adoptions.  The total fees in an international adoption range from approximately $15,000 to $40,000.  Please visit the link Adoption Costs for more information.

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