Types of Adoption

Adoption Comparison

Families come to adoption for a variety of reasons.  Some have experienced infertility; others have already raised children and primarily are coming to adoption to help a child in need of a family.  There are three basic types of adoption. The process for each is similar.

Kinds of Adoption

Private Infant Adoption

Private infant adoption is usually navigated by an adoption agency or through an attorney. For birth parents, they are seeking these services to place a child for adoption, while families or individuals use these services to adopt a child. Adoptive parents are typically the client that the agency focuses on because they are the ones that provide the funding for the adoption to take place.  The adoptive parents are responsible for the financial aspect of the adoption. Finances may include and are not limited to:

  • Agency fees
  • Cost of counseling for the birth parents
  • Medical care not covered by insurance
  • Completion of homestudy
  • Training costs
  • Living expenses of the birth parents

Some states have laws concerning what expenses can be paid by the adoptive couple.  In Utah, the birth father can sign a relinquishment prior to the baby’s birth but the birth mother must wait to sign until four hours after the birth of the child.

Some agencies require training for the adoptive parents to help inform them of how the adoption process works, how to navigate an open or closed adoption, how to communicate with an adoptee, and so on.  In this type of adoption, the birth parents usually select the family they want to adopt their child.  Because of this, waiting times can vary widely.  The level of contact between the birth parents and adopting individuals is generally arranged prior to the birth. It can vary from no contact to fully involving them in the lives of the adoptive family and child.

The ages of children in a private infant adoption is newborn to up to age four. Agencies and attorneys do not work with older children in private adoption because the costs for support of the family and the child are too high for them to provide. This type of adoption is generally the most expensive, ranging from $12,000 to $50,000.

Cost: $12,000 - 45,000

Waiting Time: Varies - birth parents  allowed to choose

Process Time: Several months

Available Children: Generally newborns

Post Adoption Support: Generally letters and pictures exchanged.  No financial support.

Birth Family Contact: Arranged and agreed upon prior to placement

International Adoption

​International adoption is similar to private infant adoption but requires supplemental paperwork in addition to the homestudy, as well as mandatory training in order to meet Hauge guidelines.  Most international adoptions occur through agencies that work with country governments. Because every country has varying requirements for the individuals that are adopting, not all families can adopt from all countries.  For example, some countries only place healthy infants with childless couples, or don’t place with people over or under a certain age, or you may have to be married for a certain length of time.  It is important to research all of the options that you may qualify for.

 Many families that want a closed adoption choose international adoption thinking they can avoid the birth parent.  But it is important to be aware that many youth from international adoptions have been able to reconnect with birth family through social media and other avenues.  Research tells us that some level of openness is good for children and that it is important for families to be open to the child wanting to reconnect to their past.  Some families may choose international adoption because they believe that the children in foreign countries have not experienced abuse and neglect.  While it is true that many of the children waiting to be adopted have had parents who loved them and cared for them but have died of natural or social causes, all countries have the same social ills that we have in America. Some children of international adoption will have come from abusive and neglectful situations. 

Most children adopted internationally spend time prior to adoption in an orphanage. Families need to be familiar with how this early care can impact the children long after they have left the orphanage.  Orphanages vary significantly in the quality of care they provide which can impact the child in both positive and negative ways. 

The ages of children adopted internationally are generally 6 months to 16 years.  The US government will not approve a visa for a child over the age of 16. The waiting time varies from country to country and between programs, with waiting times for younger children usually being longer.  Costs for this type of adoption range from $12,000 to $ 45,000.

Cost: $12,000 - 50,000

Waiting Time: 6-24 months depending upon the country and immigration guidelines.

Process Time: 4-6 months depending upon country and immigration guidelines.

Available Children: 9 months - 16 years depending upon the country.

Post Adoption Support: Varies by agency.

Birth Family Contact: Varies by agency.

Public Adoption / Foster Care Adoption

Foster care adoption, also known as public adoption or foster-to-adopt is when a family or individual adopts a child who is in the foster care system. The client in this type of adoption is the child and most of the services are directed to the child. In most cases, when a child enters the foster care system, the state will look for appropriate kin and work to place with them first. If no kin is available they will look for a family that is willing to foster the child, and possibly return them back to their birth family.  If this isn’t possible, the child will stay in the foster care system, living in a residential placement facility, a foster home, or a group home until a family or individual is found to adopt the child.

There are many children whose parental rights have been terminated and they are legally free awaiting adoption, but they most generally are over the age of nine, part of a sibling group or have some kind of handicap. The children generally have been removed from their families because of abuse and neglect and have experienced trauma. To assist with the treatment of the effects of this trauma, there is adoption assistance available to these children. This includes a Medicaid card until they are 18, a monthly maintenance payment, and a reimbursement of any fees associated with the adoption. Generally, this amount is up to $2,000 but varies from state to state. The monthly maintenance payment amount is based on the child’s needs, and not the family’s income. It is meant to cover the special needs that the child has as a result of the abuse and neglect they have suffered.  It is also dependent upon the child’s current level of need.

Young children are available for adoption, but they are most often adopted by their foster parents. This means that if you are interested in adopting a child under the age of nine you would need to be a foster parent first, and you would be expected to support a reunification plan with the biological parents.  It may take several placements before you have a child that becomes available for adoption. 

The age range of children available is birth to 21. Foster care adoption is free by means of a state provided homestudy and a series of classes that deliver training regarding the foster care system, and the behaviors and needs of the children as a result of the trauma they experience. These classes are provided at no cost to the family.

Cost: $0

Waiting Time: Depends on what special needs family is willing to consider. Also age of child and sibling groups.

Process Time: 4-6 months

Available Children: 0-21 years, with younger children placed as legal risk or foster to adopt.

Post Adoption Support: Most children qualify for subsidies.

Birth Family Contact: Based on the needs of the child.