Child Adoption FAQs

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Child Adoption

What is domestic adoption?

Domestic adoption involves adoptive parents and a child that are citizens and residents of the United States. Domestic adoption can be completed in one of two ways. The first is through an agency and is typically referred to as “Agency Adoption”. The second is when the birth family and the waiting family connect through personal means, networks, or online. This type of domestic adoption is often referred to as a “Private Adoption”.

What is the difference between private and agency adoption?

Both are types of domestic adoption. Agency adoption is done with the assistance of an agency. Agencies are legally allowed to receive funds from waiting families to disperse appropriately to birth families for certain pregnancy related expenses. No financial assistance should ever transfer directly from a waiting family to a birth family. In most cases, agency adoptions take longer to legally finalize and require more post-placement visits.

Private adoption occurs when the birth family and the waiting family connect through personal means, networks, or online; without the assistance of an adoption professional. This type of adoption does not allow for any financial assistance to be transferred between families. Should you begin the path of private adoption and realize there is a need for financial assistance, you can easily sign on with an adoption professional and switch to an agency adoption. Private adoptions are often finalized in a shorter time-frame with only one post-placement visit.

What are the benefits of placing my child for adoption?

The circumstances that lead a birth family to place a child for adoption are never easy or optimal. However, placing a child for adoption can provide many benefits for all involved, especially the child.

Family Stability. Adoption provides benefits to the child by providing a stable and loving environment for them to grow up in. Many women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy do not feel ready to parent a child, either because of age, financial background or social circumstances. Choosing adoption provides stability with adoptive parents who are ready to parent a child. Birth parents may choose the family they wish to adopt their child, giving their baby a planned and supported opportunity.

Understanding. Adoption can provide answers for a child growing up with adoptive parents. With an open adoption, a birth family may have contact with the child and adoptive family. This enables the adopted child to grow up with a better understanding about adoption, and provides both a medical history and ethnic background for an adoptee.

A Positive Future. Families who choose to place a child for adoption benefit from the decision as well. Studies show that after an adoption, birth parents tend to receive more advanced levels of education and find better jobs. They are also less likely to have another unplanned pregnancy and report positive feelings toward adoption and their decision.

Can birth families request financial assistance from waiting families?

Financial assistance should NEVER transfer directly from a waiting family to a birth family. NEVER.

If a birth family requires financial assistance, this must be done through an adoption professional at a child placing agency. Financial assistance can only be given in certain circumstances for specific expenses.

What are the differences between Open, Semi-Open, and Closed Adoption Agreements?


  • Description: Offers direct contact between donating and adopting families on a mutually agreed upon regular basis. Full identities are known.
  • Typical Contact: Phone, email, facebook, sending holiday gifts/birthday presents, and/or occasional visits are all valid potential methods of contact.
  • Pros: Resulting child(ren) could benefit from knowing about his/her genetic background, family members, and medical history.
  • Cons: You may find close contact to be uncomfortable. This type of relationship takes time to build so sometimes finding the right match can take longer.


  • Description: Offers mediated or direct contact on a scheduled basis, though neither regular nor casual contact. At least partial identities, like first names, are known.
  • Typical Contact: Contact is sometimes mediated through an agency. Can include (but is not limited to) emails, letters, and/or pictures (typically once or twice a year at scheduled intervals).
  • Pros: Resulting child(ren) still have access to their genetic background and medical history. This type of adoption could be flexible and grow into a more open situation should both parties desire that change.
  • Cons: Mediated communication could hinder the possibility of a deeper relationship forming between the two families. In the event of a medical emergency, it may or may not be possible for the adoptive family to ask timely health related questions of the genetic family.


  • Description: Offers no ongoing contact. Donors may request notification of birth through a mediated party; however, no further information is relayed after birth. Partial identities may be known.
  • Typical Contact: Some communication may occur prior to birth. Typically no communication after birth, though some families reserve the right to communicate in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Pros: Adoptive families fully control how and when resulting child(ren) learn of their unique background.
  • Cons: Possible negative emotional toll on future children if questions concerning genetic origin and heritage cannot be answered.


  • Description: Offers no contact. Minimal details are known about donors beyond their basic characteristics provided in the profile information. No identification.
  • Typical Contact: None at all, either before or after the transfer.
  • Pros: Anonymous embryo sets are currently in high supply with low demand for them. This can accelerate the matching process and even, sometimes, cut costs. For some recipients, the great need for these children to have a chance at life is a compelling factor that overcomes the drawbacks of an anonymous relationship.
  • Cons: Possible negative emotional toll on future children when questions concerning genetic origin and heritage cannot be answered. Negligible background is provided on the genetic parents beyond basic physical characteristics.

What is involved in the adoption process?

Every adoption experience is unique, but generally speaking you can expect the following events to occur (although not necessarily in this order).

  1. Matching. You meet and agree to work together towards adoption.
  2. Choose an Adoption Professional. This could be a lawyer, agency, or facilitation service that will guide you through the legal process and provide pre-adoption counseling.
  3. Child Placement. The baby is born or the child is presented and placed with the adoptive family. The adoptive family will receive placement paperwork giving them guardianship of the child for insurance purposes.
  4. Finalization. After a pre-determined length of time, the post-placement visit is conducted and the official legal finalization is completed in court. A new birth certificate can be issued at this time.

What expenses are birth families allowed to ask reimbursement for?

As different states and governing authorities vary on the allowable reimbursable expenses they permit, it is extremely important that you consult with an adoption professional before asking or promising certain expenses. Making a misstep in this area could nullify your potential adoption agreement.

How can you be sure birth families or waiting families are telling you the truth?


You can’t ever be 100% sure you are being told the truth. You can do several things to gain more certainty and a higher level of comfort with potential matches. A Homestudy will allow birth families to read the opinion of a licensed social worker on many aspects of the potential adoptive family. The birth mother’s pre-natal medical records will present pertinent information to a waiting family about the child in question. Your adoption professional can also assisted you in gathering information concerning medical, educational, and family backgrounds.

What is a homestudy?

A homestudy is a professional document containing information about waiting families. Required for the finalization of every adoption, the home study is a written report of the findings of the social worker who has met with the applicants on several occasions, both individually and together, usually at the social worker’s office. At least one meeting will occur in the applicant’s home. If there are other people living in the home, they also will be interviewed by the social worker. It highlights items such as relationships, interactions with children, your neighborhood, and your childhood. A home study also requires prospective Adoptive Parents and other adults living in the home to receive an FBI fingerprint background clearance. The home study helps potential birth families and the courts determine if a stable environment exists for a family to receive an adoptive placement. NRFA offers its members a homestudy service at a discounted rate, which can be found under My Account, then by clicking on Additional Features.

When should waiting families begin the homestudy process?

It is extremely important that the home study be started immediately. Your home study must be completed and you must be approved for placement by a child-placing agency before you can take your baby home. In many instances, waiting families have been present with adoption opportunities within a week or two of listing their profile on NRFA, so the key here is to be ready. Do not miss an adoption opportunity due to not having a completed homestudy!

Is there any way to save on adoption fees?

Birth families do not have to pay anything to participate in an adoption plan. There are several ways that adoptive families can save, raise, or be reimbursed for the adoption expenses they incur. The following are potential ways to do this:

  1. The Federal Adoption Tax Credit
  2. Federal Child Tax Credit
  3. State Tax Credit
  4. Employer Benefits
  5. Loans and Grants

Is there any way to save on adoption fees?