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Independent Adoptions

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Independent adoptions are desirable for both birth parents and prospective adoptive parents because they allow all parties to control the adoption process. However, there are some risks and costs involved in these adoptions that do not come with agency adoptions.

Advantages Of Independent Adoptions

Many adoptive parents are reassured by knowing the birth parents personally and interacting with them directly, instead of being afraid that their adoption process may fall apart before it’s completed. Rather than relying on the agency as a go-between, the birth parents and adoptive parents can meet on their own terms prior to the adoption.

Independent adoptions also avoid the long waiting lists and tough qualifying criteria that is often associated with agency adoptions. These adoptions generally happen much faster than agency adoptions, oftentimes within a year of beginning the search for a child. Going this route tends to be less expensive, as well.

Disadvantages Of Independent Adoptions

Some states have placed significant restrictions on independent adoptions. For instance, states can prohibit adoptive parents from advertising for a birth mother or limiting the amount of money adoptive parents can contribute to the birth mother’s care and medical expenses.

One concern many states have is the birth parents not having access to adequate counseling during this process. States will differ quite a bit on how much counseling they’ll require birth parents to undergo before deciding upon adoption. If the birth parents do not satisfy the required counseling, this can make the potential adoption agreement vulnerable.

There are a few states that will extend the period during which the parents can revoke their consent in the independent adoptions, making this process longer than agency adoptions. This will place your adoption agreement at additional risk. If the agreement falls apart completely, the prospective adoptive parents can lose investments of time and money without any recourse.

Even when independent adoptions are successful, a lot of work, including a lawyer’s help, is necessary. Adoptive parents typically spend lots of time and money simply searching for a birth mother, not to mention the efforts needed to follow through and complete the adoption process.

Check the legality of independent adoptions in your state prior to pursuing this route. A few states, such as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Minnesota, have made independent adoptions illegal.

Independent Adoption Costs

Typically, prospective adoptive parents must cover the costs of finding a birth mother, costs relating to pregnancy and birth, and costs involved in the adoption process. Hospital bills, travel expenses, attorney and court costs can often surpass a total of $10,000. Some states allow the birth mother’s living expenses during pregnancy to be covered, as well.

Every state allows adoptive parents to pay certain “reasonable” expenses that are related to the adoption process. Each state will have its own laws that define what costs can be paid by adoptive parents. When entering into independent adoption, you must adhere to these laws when giving any financial help to the birth mother. Most states do allow adoptive parents to pay the birth mother’s counseling, attorney and living costs. It is possible for some states to allow the birth mother’s housing, food and transportation to be covered while pregnant.

The majority of states require all payments to be itemized and approved by the court before the adoption can be finalized. Any improper payments could jeopardize the adoption.

Open Adoptions

An open adoption is one in which both the birth and adoptive parents form a relationship prior to the adoption. In most cases, the parties will come to some sort of agreement about the birth parents having some degree of contact with the child following the adoption.

Some adoptive parents may want to meet the birth parents just once before birth, while others may wish to form a more meaningful relationship. Some agreements may limit contact, with others agreeing to regular visits. These visitation agreements are common, but not enforceable by a court.

Open adoptions can reduce stress by eliminating the fear of the unknown. Adoptive parents are reassured by meeting and getting to know the birth parents ahead of time. This openness can be beneficial to the child as well, as he or she may grow up with fewer questions than a child of a closed adoption may have.

Source:

  1. Nolo. Independent Adoptions. www.nolo.com. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/independent-adoptions-29696.html

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