Deciding which type of adoption is right for you and your family is a very personal choice. Make sure you know your options. Here are some key terms and their definitions:
Domestic Adoption: When a child is adopted within the same country.
Foster Care Adoption: When a child is adopted through the Department of Social Services; these are often older children and teens.
International (also Intercountry) Adoption: When a child is adopted from another country. The advantage for many parents is the ability to adopt an infant, although many older children also are adopted internationally.
Special Needs Adoption: This term refers to conditions or characteristics that make a child difficult to place. Some agencies consider black or bi-racial children as special needs. Other special needs categories include siblings, children over age six or eight, children who have been physically or sexually abused, children with permanent or temporary disabilities or children born to a mother with AIDS or other illnesses.
Agency Adoption: These include public or private agencies. Private agencies provide a range of services, including counseling, placements and post-placement monitoring. Private agencies are businesses owned and run by individuals, groups or organizations, and they can be involved in domestic adoptions of infants and older children and international adoptions. They have to be licensed by the state or states in which they operate.
Independent (or Private) Adoption: These are arranged without the use of an adoption agency, generally through an attorney or facilitator. Typically, in this type of adoption, the family takes a proactive role in the adoption process. They may do their own advertising, set up a free phone number for prospective birthmothers or secure their own lawyer to assist in the adoption process and finalization. This type of adoption is not legal in all states.