Independent Adoptions

The advantages and disadvantages of skipping the agency when you adopt a child.

Independent adoptions are attractive to birth parents and prospective adoptive parents because they allow the people involved to keep control over the adoption process. However, there are risks and costs involved in independent adoptions that don’t come with agency adoptions, as well as more work for the adoptive parents.

Advantages of Independent Adoptions

Many adoptive parents are reassured by knowing the birth parents personally and dealing with them directly, instead of being afraid that their adoption may fall apart before it is completed. Rather than relying on an agency as a go-between, the birth parent and adoptive parents can meet, get to know each other, and decide for themselves whether to go ahead with the adoption. Independent adoptions also avoid the long waiting lists and restrictive qualifying criteria that can be part of agency adoptions. And independent adoptions usually happen much faster than agency adoptions, often within a year of beginning the search for a child. Finally, independent adoptions can be less expensive than using an agency — although the adoptive parents will have many of the same costs, like paying the birthmother’s expenses, they will save the agency fees.

Disadvantages of Independent Adoptions

Many states place significant restrictions on independent adoptions. For example, states may prohibit adoptive parents from advertising for a birth mother, or limit the amount of money adoptive parents can contribute to the birth mother’s prenatal care and medical expenses.

Another concern is that birth parents might not receive adequate counseling during the adoption process. States differ quite a bit on how much counseling they require birth parents to have before making their final decision to give up a child for adoption. If the birth parents do not get the required amount of counseling, this may make your adoption agreement vulnerable.