Being Smart WhenAdopting Independently
When adopting without the help of an agency, do notexpect things to be easier. While you might be able to expect a bit less paperwork, remember that you are now doing the work that an agency would do for you: advertising, screening birth parents, making sure everything is done legally, and handling transactions.
The bottom line is that you are on your own; you are at the mercy of birth parents, state laws, the competence of your attorney, and your own resources (including the knowledge of your friends). For example, if you should choose to adopt internationally, your ability to do so will be limited to what foreign languages you speak and ever-evolving international adoption laws. (Read on for a checklist for an independent adoption.)
If you’ve decided to adopt independently, chances are you’ve already tried to go the agency route with little success and a lot of frustration. You’ve considered the pros and cons of agency versus independent adoption, and you’ve decided the risks of independent adoption are worth the possibility of finding a child faster. Be realistic about your expectations when adopting independently; expect to take some risks and do more work.
Learn all you can about your option for independent adoption — from friends, forums, and even conferences and seminars. Consider all your options for finding a birth mother, including contacting crisis pregnancy centers, obstetricians, school guidance counselors, and friends who could lead you to the right person.
Do It Legally
You want to make sure everything is legitimate and on paper; an attorney is essential for this step. Adoption attorneys may have a list of birth mothers from which you can take your pick.Use an adoption attorney to help you learn where and how you may advertise, or use an adoption advertising consultant.
Independent adoption is legal in all states except Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. However, in these states adoptive parents and birth parents may find each other without agency intervention, arranging for parental rights to be relinquished through an agency.
Only thirty-two states allow independent adoption advertising; other states require you to advertise through licensed agencies. Kentucky doesn’t allow any advertising soliciting children or adoptive parents.
Your best resource can be others with experience adopting independently. By letting friends and family know what you are doing, you may be able to hear about others who can help. You can also try online adoption forums such as forums.adoption.com, which can be especially helpful in learning about the ever-evolving experience of independent international adoption.
Independent adoption is not necessarily easier than using an agency to find a birth family, although it can sometimes be faster. The most important thing is to know the risks and the rules; protect yourself the way an agency would by using an attorney and screening birth parents wisely.