Adopting a child is a very fulfilling experience for parents, but getting there isn’t always easy. One of the first obstacles is understanding the different types of adoption in the US and choosing the one that’s best for you.
While speaking with social workers, psychologists and other relevant experts, Parentology learned that there are many different ways to categorize adoptions. Some professionals only distinguish between international and domestic. Others split adoption types into private and public. However, Katria Jenkins, Ed. D, executive director of Osceola County Child Welfare Operations, takes a more detailed approach. She uses the categories described below.
1. Adopting Through the Child Welfare System
Also known as foster care, this system involves, “Adopting children who are under the custody of the State,” Jenkins says. “Children are abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents and therefore taken into foster care … After a parent’s parental rights are terminated, their children become available for adoption.”
2. International Adoption
According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, international adoptions are extremely common. Many families pursue this option to widen their search for an addition to the family. Others want to provide opportunities for children of poor families in underdeveloped and developing countries. However, Jenkins cautions that it is expensive and challenging. One of the greatest hurdles to overcome is filing for citizenship for the child.
3. Private Adoption
Another expensive option is private adoption.
“Private adoption is done typically through an agency and is often extremely expensive,” says Crystal Rice, a Licensed Graduate Social Worker and therapeutic consultant at Insieme Consulting who facilitates support and education groups specifically for foster parents and adoptive parents. She’s also the mother of two adopted children. Rice tells Parentology the cost can run upwards for $20,000 or higher. “[Taking classes] is not always a requirement in private adoption agencies; however, you should be looking for an agency that does require classes as there is a lot to learn.”
Note that sometimes there is no agency. Instead, there is a direct legal agreement between the adoptive and birth parents.
4. Relative or Kinship Adoption
Sometimes people adopt members of their own family. One of the most common instances is when an aunt adopts her nieces and nephews because her sibling is unable to care for them. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, in any instance where children cannot safely remain at home with their parents, this is the first type of adoption considered.
5. Adult Adoption
This is perhaps one of the most surprising additions to the list, but it does happen.
“There is typically a 10-year age difference and both adults can demonstrate that it is in the adoptees [sic] best interest to be adopted,” Jenkins says. For example, “[The] youth placed in a foster home at 17, but is now 18 years old … caregiver and youth want to become an official family and move forward with adoption.”
The Recommended Type
There is no one type that is best for any family. If you are considering adoption to start or grow your family, be sure to consider your finances, patience, resilience and the willingness to navigate international and transracial complications.
Jenkins advises anyone interested in adopting through foster care to call 1-866-90-CHILD (24453) to start the process.
Different Types of Adoption in the US — Sources
Katria Jenkins, Ed. D, Osceola County Child Welfare Operations
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Adoption USA. A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Race, Ethnicity, And Gender
Crystal Rice, LGSW, Insieme Consulting
Child Welfare Information Gateway: Kinship/Relative Adoption