One in six couples is infertile. Many of them turn toward adoption, as well as other adults who adopt for reasons other than infertility.

But questions and fears often arise: Is adoption as hard as many people say? Is it excessively expensive? Is the birth mother likely to change her mind? Fortunately, the answer to all of these questions is “no.”

Success in adoption, like any challenging endeavor, is often dependent on one’s knowledge and effort. The more you know, the better your chances of success. And the harder you try, the luckier you tend to be. As an attorney who has limited his practice to adoption for 21 years, and completed more than 900 domestic and international adoptions, I can tell you that there is a type of adoption for virtually everyone.

The two biggest mistakes people make are being too traditional in their selection of an adoption professional to assist them and being too unimaginative in the type of adoption they attempt. For example, most people can name only four types of adoption.

  1. Independent adoption, which is usually arranged by an attorney to assist in locating a birth mother to start a newborn placement. The birth mother selects the adoptive parents from photo-resume letters.
  2. Public agency adoption, aka the “county” agency, which places waiting children, many presently in foster care, of all ages and ethnic groups. These adoptions are generally free to help such children find homes.
  3. Private agency adoption, which typically handles both newborn and older child placements.
  4. International adoption, in which a person adopts a child born in another country. China, Guatemala and Russia are the most popular countries for international adoptions.

In actuality, 14 different types, or subtypes, of adoption exist. Even some adoption professionals don’t know this or won’t tell you— as your greater knowledge may mean the loss of your patronage when you learn the professionals may not be your best option for adoption.

Too often, people who want to adopt open their local yellow pages and select one of the adoption agencies or attorneys listed. To find a plumber, great. For an adoption, no. It’s possible an excellent adoption professional is right in your community, and the laws of your state encourage adoption. But, frequently the agency or attorney best suiting one’s needs is located in a different county or even state. The best option for adoption may require a wider search, like when selecting a suitable college, job or spouse.

There are more than 1,200 licensed private adoption agencies, and about 400 members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. These numbers far exceed what you will find in your local phone book, and one of the missing names might be just right for your unique needs and desires.

To consider a unique adoption method, let’s look at one of those 14 types: non-resident adoption. Almost half of the states nationwide allow you to adopt from their state when the baby is born within their state, even if you live in a different state. You can complete either an independent or agency non-resident adoption in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. You hire an agency or attorney in that state, the hired party networks for a birth mother for you, the child is placed and you finalize the adoption under their state laws. The only service needed in your home state is a home study, which entails an overview of your family to assess whether your home is suitable for the adopted child. This one example demonstrates the importance of being fully informed.

There are many unjustified fears and misconceptions about adoption.  Let’s address them.

I want to adopt a newborn, but I am nervous about meeting a birth mother.

Most birth mothers are loving young women who want the best for their children. However, they are presently unable to parent. Meeting you gives a birth mother confidence in the placement of her child. It also lets you share her compassion for your child as you raise him or her with the knowledge that the adoption was a loving and unselfish act by the child’s birth mother.

I’m worried a birth mother will place a baby with me, and then reclaim the child.

Few birth mothers seek to stop adoption. Though every state has different laws, each state has a specific limited time for the birth parent to change his or her mind. In some states, the consent is irrevocable upon signing. Often the limit is 72 hours post-birth, ten days or longer. If you don’t like the laws of your state, go elsewhere!

Adoption is too expensive for me.

If you’re adopting, you have several main costs— the home study (done by your agency or a state office, depending upon your state); the legal/bureaucratic side of the adoption (done by an attorney, or an agency and its attorney); and the birth mother’s possible medical, living and counseling expenses. Most reputable attorneys and agencies charge $4,000 to $12,000 for complete services, and only charge a percentage until you are selected for a placement. The majority of birth mothers have state Medicaid or insurance, covering all medical costs, and only some birth mothers need help with living costs. This means many domestic newborn adoptions are possible for under $15,000. International adoptions are usually $20,000 to $30,000.

There is a federal adoption tax credit of $11,390 for those with modified adjusted gross incomes up to $170,820— the credit declining with incomes up to $210,820. This is a credit, which is better than a deduction, allowing it to be a dollar for dollar elimination of federal taxes owed.

People can’t adopt if they are single, are older than age 40, already have children, or if both partners work full time.

None of these are usual factors in independent adoption, as the birth mother personally selects the adoptive parents, not an agency. Even with agencies, many are flexible. Each country sets its own requirements in international adoption.

I want to adopt an older child needing a home, but I’ve been told I’m limited to those in my community.

Not true. Almost every public agency, and some private ones, works with the national or regional exchanges. Because of shared photo listings, you can actually go online and see these children right from your home. To see all the children, however, you must use the agency’s computer, as agencies have a special code to access every child.

You can succeed at adoption. Educate yourself, select the right kind of adoption to pursue, hire the best agency or attorney for you, and put all of your energy into your goal.

Educational Web sites:



Adoption Facts vs. Myths
Adoption Facts vs. Myths

The real truth on adoption.