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Domestic adoption

[Domestic Adoption]
Photos courtesy Adoptive Families readers  

An Overview

Despite myths to the contrary, domestic newborn adoption remains alive and well in the United States. Current estimates of the annual number of infants adopted domestically (excluding foster and relative adoption) range from 25,000 to 30,000—more than all international adoptions combined. Moreover, the process can go much more swiftly that you might imagine. In a 2007 Adoptive Families survey, the majority of respondents were matched with a birthmother in less than 12 months, and 15% got "the call" to travel after the baby had already been born, without a prematch.

In most U.S. newborn adoptions, adoptive parents are selected by the birthparents of the child, and, in at least half of the cases, the birthparents and adoptive parents have met. Domestic adopters usually appreciate the opportunity to build a relationship with their child's birth family. As one AF reader wrote, "It's as if we were all on different paths, moving around each other, and one day, our paths crossed to create this family." While ongoing contact is increasingly common, the extent of contact varies significantly.

Depending on the situation, and the laws of the state where the family lives and where the baby is born, prospective adoptive parents may cover some of the living and medical expenses of the birthmother. For a chart of state adoption law in the U.S., see the Adoptive Families website:

Fast Facts:

Estimated Cost: $15,000 to $25,000. Costs can total considerably more in certain circumstances.
Profile of Children: Privately adopted babies in the U.S. are usually newborns.
Parent Ages: There are no legal restrictions in most states, but many or most birth families select the family for their child, so parents who are younger than 25 or older than 45 may wait longer to be selected.
Family Status: No regulation, but birthparents may be looking for a couple rather than a single parent, and a family with few or no other children.
Travel: The adoptive family must satisfy the laws of the state where the baby is born before they can bring the child to a different state. Depending on the state, this may take just a day or two or several weeks.
Timeline: A baby cannot be legally relinquished before birth. Most experts advise prospective adoptive parents to be careful about making an emotional commitment to a potential birthmother too early in her pregnancy.

Helpful articles from Adoptive Families magazine:

Perception & Reality: The Untold Story of Domestic Adoption, by Eliza Newlin Carney
The Truth About Domestic Adoption, by Eliza Newlin Carney
The Reluctant Spouse, by Jill Smolowe
The Final Step, by Eliza Newlin Carney
On Loving Your Child's Birthmother, by Susan Tompkins and Janine Latus Musick
The First Conversation with a Potential Birthparent..., by Nelson Handel
Writing a Terrific Birthmother Letter, by Nelson Handel
Still Waiting for the Call? Best Profile Tips, by Lori Holden
Independent Adoption, by by Mark T. McDermott, J.D.

To get started in domestic adoption:

Consult these helpful books:

The Adoption Option Complete Handbook by Chris Adamec
The Adoption Resource Book by Lois Gilman
Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew
Somebody's Child: Stories from the Private Files of an Adoption Attorney by Randi Barrow
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by David Brodzinsky, Marshall Schechter, and Robin Marantz Henig
Reaching Out: The Guide To Writing A Terrific Dear Birthmother Letter by Nelson Handel

Consult these websites to stay up to date:

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute:
Child Welfare Information Gateway: Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?
Ethica: updates on changes in adoption law and practices:

©2003 Adoptive Families. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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