What are the Different Types of Adoption?

Adoption is the permanent and legal process of transferring all the parental rights from one person or couple to another. It is a major life-changing event where a new member of the family will be welcomed. Adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as biological parents, and the same goes with adopted children who have all of the emotional, social, legal and kinship benefits of biological children.

Adoption has several types. If you’re looking into growing your family through adoption, here are its different types which may help you decide what kind of adoption you should go for.

Agency Adoption

Adopting can be done through either a public or a private agency. Agencies that process adoption are licensed to place children with adoptive parents. Children in public adoption agencies are usually those who wards of the state, often because they have been abused, abandoned, or orphaned. Private adoption agencies, on the other hand, handle children who have been brought to them by parents who are seeking to give their child up for adoption.

Independent Adoption

Independent adoption involves a direct arrangement between birth parents and adoptive parents. This type of adoption sometimes uses a go-between such as a doctor or member of the clergy. Independent adoption has a delicate nature, therefore, it’s better to hire a lawyer to handle the paperwork. Also, not all states allow independent adoptions, that’s why it’s important to check your state’s law first before opting for it.

Identified Adoption

This type of adoption is a combination of independent adoption and agency adoption. In an identified adoption, the adoptive parents will find a mother who wants to put a child up for adoption. Once they find one, both sets of parents will ask an adoption agency to handle the rest of the process.

The advantage of an identified adoption is there will be no wait list for the adoptive parents. Also, prospective parents can have more control over choosing the child they will adopt while still benefitting from the counseling and professional services afforded by an agency.


This type of adoption is where a child will be placed in the adoptive parent’s house as a foster child. It comes with the expectation that the child will be legally free and available to be adopted by the prospective parents.

Stepparent Adoption

This type of adoption happens when the new spouse of the parent adopts the parent’s child from a different partner. It is a much simpler process compared to traditional adoption if the birth parents both consent. However, if one parent does not consent or cannot be found, a lawyer is needed and a significant amount of time and paperwork will be involved.

Same-Sex Couple Adoption

Same-sex adoption has been legalized in all U.S. states. But prior to that ruling, there were some states such as Florida and Mississippi, which explicitly banned gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. Some faith-based adoption agencies may also decline a same-sex couple’s adoption application due to “religious reasons”.

Adult Adoption

This is a rare type of adoption but most of the states provide for them. One of the common rules when it comes to adult adoptions is that there must be at least a ten-year age difference between the parent and the adult being adopted. Also, the parties need to show why they want the adoption.

Most of the time, the main reason why people undergo an adult adoption is for them to secure inheritance rights for people they have grown fond, especially for couples who do not have children. However, there are some states that do not allow adult adoptions especially when caregivers are involved. It’s because they are preventing caregivers from taking advantage of their elderly patients.

International Adoption

This is probably the most complicated among all types of adoption. It’s because to be able to adopt a citizen of a foreign country, you need to satisfy both the laws of the state you live in and the laws of the host country. Aside from that, parents also need to obtain an immigrant visa for the child through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If that will be approved, the child will automatically be granted with U.S. citizenship upon entering the United States.

Agencies that offer international adoption should be certified by the State Department. Aside from that, the adopting parents also need to prove to the State Departments some important things such as if the foreign adoption agency has provided counseling for biological parents, has secured legal consent from the biological parents, has considered local placement of the child, and if the child has been properly cleared for the U.S. adoption.

Adopting internationally without an agency is also possible, however, since the process is very complex, the majority of adoptive parents choose to adopt internationally through a U.S. agency which specializes in this type of adoption.

These are the different types of adoptions you can choose from. Remember that every family’s needs vary and there are also a lot of reasons for choosing different adoption methods that are available under the law. If you still haven’t decided yet, maybe contacting an experienced adoption lawyer might help you find out what type of adoption is perfect for you.