Adoptive Families, the award-winning national adoption magazine, is the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption.


What You Should Consider When Adopting Independently

Many parents who want to adopt a baby in the United States choose to do so through independent adoption. In this case, prospective adoptive parents work with an attorney to connect with birth parents and then develop an adoption arrangement that meets both parties’ personal needs. For many adopters, the direct involvement is empowering. The desire to adopt a newborn may be an even stronger motivation. Increasingly, too, many adoptive parents value having some degree of openness with their child’s birth parents.

Here's what you need to know:

The time that it will take to be chosen by a birthmother can be uncertain, particularly if you have special circumstances (by virtue of your age, profession, location, religion, or marital status). Families comfortable with aspects of open or semi-open adoption will find it easier to be matched with a birthmother than those who do not.  While most adoptive parents complete independent adoptions in less than two years, some wait longer for a baby.

Even when birth parents choose you, the outcome not certain until the adoption is finalized. In attorney Steven Kirsh’s experience, “About half the birth mothers decide against adoption before the baby is placed and about 20% after the baby is born but before consents are signed.” Fewer than 1% of final adoptinos are contested, however.  Living with the uncertainty is the single most difficult aspect of independent adoption for most families.

Costs vary widely (from $8,000 to more than $30,000, according to the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse), depending on many factors adoptive parents can’t control.  For example, you may have to advertise longer than planned, or the birthmother may have medical complications that extend her hospital stay.  What you can do:  Look for a birthmother who has medical insurance or is living at home.  Limit phone chats with your attorneys, since that time is typically billed.  Steer clear of intermediaries who ask you to pay a "finder's fee," or who charge you to place your name on a waiting list.  Spread costs out over time by setting up escrow accounts or working out a payment plan with the hospital.  Don't forget that the federal adoption tax credit applies for each attempted adoption.

©Copyright 2004 Adoptive Families magazine. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Subscribe to Adoptive Families online at or via toll-free phone 800-372-3300.

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