Understanding Adoption – Defining Types of Adoption

Are you considering adoption, but don’t really know where to begin? The first thing to understand is the different kinds of adoption.

Kinds of adoption clearly defined with lists of pros and cons to each. What prospective adoptive parents need!

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As mom of six children, four of whom are adopted, I answer questions about adoption every week. Many people understand what adoption is, but have little understanding of the types of adoption that are available, or the ways adoption can happen.

Out of our four adoptions, no two have been exactly the same. Two were private adoptions without an agency, and two were adoptions through the foster care system.

Types of Adoption

Adoptions can be broken down initially into two major categories; international and domestic.  Within those two categories, there are several different avenues of adoption available to prospective adoptive parents.

International Adoption

International adoption is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a parent or parents from one country adopting a child from another country.  The length  of the international adoption process and the costs involved depend upon the country in which the child is born.  

Typically, the international adoption process is a more expensive option, but it is chosen by many parents because the adoption records are permanently sealed and the biological parents are in an entirely different country.

Pros and Cons of International Adoption

Available Children
Completely Closed
Biological Family in a Different Country

Country can close adoptions at anytime in the process

Domestic Adoption Options

A domestic adoption is one in which both the prospective adoptive parents and the child reside in the same country.  Here in the US, there are several types of domestic adoption.

Private Adoption or Direct Adoption

A private adoption is one where the state, and sometimes agencies, are not involved.  There is an agreement between both the adoptive and the biological parents about the adoption.  

This can happen at any age of the child until the child is old enough to make his or her own choices about adoption.  Private adoptions can occur without an adoption agency.  

Though not as much as international adoptions, there are considerable costs associated with private adoptions.

Kinship Adoption

A kinship adoption occurs when a child is adopted by a relative.  This occurs most often in the US when a child is removed from the biological parents by Child Protective Services and is then placed with a relative to prevent the child from being placed in a foster home.

Typically, when a child is removed from the care of his biological parents, family members are considered first for placement over prospective foster families.

Adoption from the Foster Care System

If you are considering fostering to adopt, read here about the eight things you should consider before you begin the home study process. This post includes a free Pre Home Study Worksheet.

Adoption from the foster care system occurs when a child is removed from his home by the state department of children’s services, no kinship placement can be identified and immediate reunification with biological parents cannot be achieved.  

If possible, it is the goal of child welfare to reunify children in foster care with their biological parents.  However, in the completed statistics from 2015 showed that only half of the over 400,000 children in the foster care system even had a goal of reunification.  This means that half of those children in the system would become adoptable by the foster parents they are placed with.  

There are no costs for the adoptive family associated with adoptions that are facilitated from the foster care system. This makes the foster to adopt option the most economical for prospective adoptive parents.

Adoption Stories

You can read more about our adoption stories here. These are the adoption stories of some of our friends around the country:

A Joyful Adoption Day Story from Renee at Great Peace Academy
One from Kristen at We Are That Family

Additional Information About Adoption

Information about adoption and foster care can be found in the following books and websites:

Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It by Ray Guarendi

Adoption Beyond Borders by Rebecca J.Compton



Free Printable Home Study Check List

Every adoption requires a home study. Get a head start on the home study process by downloading my free home study checklist via the form below and join our Foster Care and Adoption Questions and Answers Facebook group here.

How to adopt a child.  Good explanation of the avenues of adoption.
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