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What is Adoption? How does it work? Is adoption for me? What type of adoption is for me? What questions should I ask?
Gathering Information :

The process usually starts by gathering information and talking to professionals. Some pregnant individuals and couples search the Internet for information. Others read books and brochures. Some will start the process by gathering general information from a healthcare professional or a counselor. After gathering basic information about adoption, many will seek out an adoption professional. There are basically two types of adoption professionals - adoption agencies and adoption attorneys. There is a third type of adoption professional known as an adoption facilitator. Non-licensed adoption facilitators operate in many states. However, in many states it is actually illegal for adopting parents to pay fees to non-licensed facilitators. Anyone considering adoption should check out their state’s law before approaching a non-licensed adoption facilitator.

Making a Plan :

After gathering information about adoption, the pregnant person or couple has a lot of decisions to make. For those interested in pursuing adoption, they start the process known as making an adoption plan. This usually involves choosing what type of adoption they would like to pursue. If they want to work with an agency, this is called an agency adoption. If they decide to work directly with an attorney, this is called an independent adoption. In most agency adoptions, the birth parents actually surrender their parental rights to the adoption agency. The agency then places the child with the adoptive family that the birth parent has chosen. The agency has legal custody of the child until the adoption is finalized. The agency then places the child with the adoptive family that the birth parent has chosen. The agency has legal custody of the child until the adoption is finalized. In independent adoptions, the attorney coordinates all of the legal paperwork and court proceedings. Attorneys can refer the birth family and adoptive family to adoption professionals who can provide counseling and other services. In some cases the birth parent may have already located a family. In other cases, the birth family may go to the attorney looking for an adoptive family. In an independent adoption, the birth parent(s) directly surrender their parental rights to the adopting family.

There are a few things that are consistent in both agency and independent adoptions :
Adoptive parent(s) have to have an adoptive home study assessment or a pre-placement investigation in order to adopt a child. A home study assessment is essentially a stamp of approval to adopt a child. Every state has a different process for approving adoptive families. Every state has different process for approving individuals or agencies to do home study assessments. The one exception to this rule is when a family or individual adopts a child that is a close biological relative like a niece, sister or grandchild. This is called a kinship adoption. Some states do not require a home study assessment in a kinship adoption.
The process of infant domestic adoption involves a process of voluntary termination of parental rights. That means that the birth parent(s) should be making the adoption plan while being free from pressure or coercion. The word termination means that the birth parent(s) legally and permanently sever their parental rights and responsibilities to the child.
The process of infant domestic adoption involves another individual or couple legally establishing a parental relationship with the child. This is a permanent relationship. Adopted children are afforded the same rights as biological children.

The birth mother cannot legally terminate her parental rights until after the child is born. States vary on the laws about birth fathers. In general, a birth father cannot terminate his parental rights until after the child is born; however some states allow unmarried birth fathers to terminate their rights before the birth of the child. 
The process of termination of parental rights is permanent.  Birth parents are not able to change their mind about the adoption plan once the legal consents have been signed and the revocation period has passed.  There are some states where the legal consent is irrevocable after signing. Most states have a period in which birth parents can legally revoke their consents. The length of time varies from state to state. In some cases, birth parents can attempt to withdraw their consent if they can prove coercion or duress.
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The resources provided on BirthParent.us are for educational purposes only. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of IATI, Harmony Adoptions or its partner agencies. Visitors should seek out professionals to discuss their options before making any decision.