Domestic Adoptions

Domestic adoption generally refers to the adoption of U.S.-born infants through for-profit or non-profit adoption agencies or facilitators. Unfortunately the number of infants available for adoption has Been decreasing due to a variety of factors, including increased access to contraception, the legalization of abortion and changed social attitudes about unmarried parenting.


Until the late 1970s, agencies generally selected adoptive families for children without consulting birth parents. Current practice is much different. In many agency adoptions birth parents are actively involved in selecting the adoptive families for their children.

It has also become increasingly common for birth and adoptive families to have some form of direct contact after placement. This practice is called "open adoption," but the degree of openness can vary significantly. Birth and adoptive parents may meet before the adoption is finalized and have no further contact, or the families may maintain some level of ongoing contact throughout the child's life, such as exchanging photos or letters or having face-to-face meetings.

All states permit state-licensed private agencies to place children with adoptive parents. Adoption agencies charge fees to counsel birth parents, identify and ensure the suitability of prospective adoptive families, obtain the child's medical and social history and assist with adoption placement. Additionally, agencies often provide pre-adoption parent education and post-adoption services for adoptive parents.

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Some states permit adoptive parents to pay reasonable living, medical and legal expenses of the birth mother in independent adoptions. Adoptive and birth parents contract with lawyers to legally finalize the adoption. No state permits the exchange of money for children for the purposes of adoption.

(Source: The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute)

State Adoption Laws

The following information about the adoption laws of different States is provided for reference only. Any information will need to be verified depending on the circumstances of each specific adoption and the adoption code of each specific state.

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