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Do You Have To Go Through An Adoption Agency To Adopt A Baby? An Expert Explains

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When my husband and I started our journey to become parents, one thing was certain — regardless of when or if we could have biological children of our own, one day we would adopt a child or children to bring into our family. Both of our families have been touched by adoption, we've seen how wonderful it is, and we want that for our immediate family as well. If you're also considering growing your family this way, you may be wondering about specifics like, do you have to go through an adoption agency to adopt a baby?

While it varies from state to state, there are traditionally three standard methods for adopting domestically. These methods include going through an independent or state-run adoption agency and being placed with a child that way, going through the foster system with the ultimate goal of adoption after placement, and independent or private placement adoption, where parents work directly with the biological mother to adopt the baby at birth. Only one of the three of these methods are completed through an agency, but agency adoption is the most popular choice because of how relatively quick and efficient it is compared to independent adoption and the foster system, noted National Adoption Center.

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However, not all states allow all forms of adoption. For instance, independent adoptions are illegal in four states: Connecticut, Delaware, North Dakota, and Massachusetts. All four of those states allow agency adoption and have a foster system, but if you're curious to know do you have to go through an adoption agency to adopt a baby, in those states, the answer is yes.

That's because in the foster system, the average age of a child who needs to be placed is 8 years old, noted Adopt US Kids. While it is possible to be placed with an infant or young toddler, the odds aren't exactly in your favor. You also have to go into the system understanding that, sometimes, a part of the foster contract is the goal of reunification with the birth family at some point, be it the parents or another blood relative, according to Abraham Solomon, a social worker in New York City. Solomon tells Romper that there is a great need for foster parents to take on older children — to love them and be patient with them. "They all have undergone a significant trauma to be placed in the system in the first place, and there will be an adjustment period, but the reward is remarkable. There is something beautiful about seeing a child who had all but given up hope come to life in a warm environment and thrive under the care of a loving foster family."

The costs, according to Solomon, vary greatly between differing types of adoption. "Agency adoption is generally on or around $30,000 in fees, all told. Some of those, like lawyer fees, can be reimbursed if you're adopting a baby with special needs, but most are out of pocket. For a private placement adoption, it depends on the individual circumstance. It can be far less than an agency, or significantly more if you factor in hospital bills you might be responsible for and travel and lawyer fees. Fostering is almost free, as far as adoption goes, and at least in New York, there are agencies who will work with you to mitigate even your lawyer fees."

My husband and I haven't decided the route we'll take as far as adoption goes, but I know that eventually we will be foster parents. If you're thinking about bringing children into your life, be sure to really research the agency you want to go through if you're going that route, because they are very unique, and each have their own quirks and rules. Also, if the cost is daunting to you, GoFundMe has a portion of its site dedicated to funding adoptions, so you might want to consider that angle. In the end, it's all about creating families, no matter how you do that, right?

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