Private Adoption - How does it work? — Promise Love (2023)

How does one even figure out how to get started when looking into adoption?? It can be quite an overwhelming thing!! So, we are going to give you the skinny on how private domestic adoption works. David and have done 2 private domestic adoptions, we just officially finalized one and the second one will be soon, so I can share what we've experienced and the process. Holly shared the process to adopt from the foster system, you can read that HERE. There are huge differences in how each of these processes works and even a different set of laws they fall under.

Private Adoption by definition is: an adoption arranged by a privately-funded, licensed adoption agency. There are costs involved, private domestic adoption is typically $20,000-$40,000 depending on the state and agency. This is usually the biggest deterrent people say when considering adoption. Take a step back and think about it. How much is the car or 2 cars sitting in your drive way and how long will you keep them? 3 years, 5 years? Initially when David and I were looking at our options for adoption, we were hesitant on working with a private agency because it just sounds wrong that you are paying to have a child become part of your family. In reality though, you are paying that amount so that a birth mother can make the most unselfish decision she will ever make, giving her child a home and a life that she probably wouldn't be able, or isn't ready to provide. A lot of these kids would probably end up in the foster system if that mom didn't make that choice. I know for a fact that one of our babies would be in the system right now if it wasn't for her mom making the decision to place her for adoption. Now she will not have to endure the potential numerous foster homes, and years before should would actually be able to be adopted or even aging out of the system. I'm telling you, it is worth every penny, it's rescuing a child and giving them love and a life they might never have.

Ok, off the soapbox:-) Here's from my perspective the steps you can follow to get started:

1. Start researching adoption agencies - There are a LOT of adoption agencies out there. Some reputable, many not so reputable. We have a couple listed on our resources page that we have worked with and know are amazing. David and I opted for a small local agency (Finally Home Christian Adoption Services) because it was faith based and we knew the person who started the agency. You really have to be confident in the agency you are working with, their fee structure, and their support to you and even more importantly to the birth mom.

2. Once you choose an agency they will have a process for you to follow. There are a lot of documents you will have to fill out to be qualified, as well as having an approved home study. The main things are; proof of income and expenses, background checks, references, why you want to adopt and the list goes on.

3. Application and Preferences - This is part of the paperwork you will fill out but it's important so I am making it it's own item:-) Your agency should require you to state what type of things you are open to in terms of a potential child you could be matched with. This includes race, gender, age, siblings, drug exposure during pregnancy, HIV, alcohol during pregnancy, disabilities (both mental and physical) and other factors. You have to decide what your family can handle and what you are open to. We also did a lot of research on our own in terms of HIV and exposure to drugs because we had no idea what the effects are. HIV I thought was the most interesting. If the birth mom is on medication and generally has a c-section the rate of the baby being HIV + is <2%. That is just amazing to me how medicine has gotten to that place. You can plan, and research as much as you want to, but at some point no matter what happens, you have to decide if that is the child that is meant to be a part of your family.

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4. Home Study - This is a requirement by law that the agency you choose has to perform and you have to be approved for before you can have an adoptive placement. There is an actual in home visit and interview with a licensed professional or social worker. All the paperwork you filled out will also be a part of the home study which will check marital status, income, health, references, and background check for criminal and abuse history.

5. Family Profile Book - While all these other things are in process you will have to make a book about your family. This is what your adoption agency will present to birth moms or parents, that are working with your agency to place their children for adoption. It can be a little overwhelming because you have to basically do a book of your life and show photos of things like your home, family members, activities, your wedding, why you want to adopt, a letter to the potential birth mom, pets, hobbies, vacations etc! I had to do ours very quickly and thankfully since I am a photographer I'm very organized and could pull images. Here's what the cover of our book looks like. I basically googled "adoption family profile book" and I used MixBookto actually build the album because it was super easy to throw in pictures and text.
Here's a couple articles I used that helped:
- Adoptive Families
- Adoptive Family Circle
There are even companies you can pay to do one for you like this one: Little Blessings Adoption. It was tempting, but I literally had one day to do ours so I just used ideas from articles and examples to organize our info.

6. Waiting - Once your home study is approved then the waiting begins. It can be long or short depending the things you are open to that you stated in your application and family profile. Typically, for a newborn the waiting process they say is about a year. Sometimes it's much shorter and sometimes it's much longer. Generally, the more open your profile the faster it can be. When you are in process don't be afraid to let friends and family know what you are doing and that you are in process. Many times matches occur because a friend of a friend knows someone who is thinking about adoption and you never know what might happen!

7. Match - Adoption agencies also have a process for working with prospective birth mom's. When a birth mom signs on with an agency and has committed to the process they will then be presented family profiles to choose who they think will be the best fit for their child. Once the birth mom officially choses the family, depending on the situation there can be a lot of interaction with the birth mom or very little. This can include going to doctor appointments and getting to know her. Every situation is totally different. The agency we chose really focuses on the birth mom, which we really liked because they did weekly counseling with her that walked her through a lot of the emotional things she was going through and getting her ready for the emotions she would experience when the baby was born. Birth moms have to actually decide to place their children for adoption 2 times. Once when they actually sign on with an agency and a second time after they give birth and officially have to sign the documents and handing the baby over to the adoptive family.

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8. Costs - You usually just hear a blanket amount of how much adoption costs but not really an explanation of it's for. The adoption agency you choose should give you a detailed fee schedule about what amounts are due when. There's agency fees, legal fees, and also a legal amount of birth mother expenses by law allowed. In Florida it's $5000, but it does vary by state.
Examples of what agency fees include are:
- Application process
- Adoption training
- Background checks
- Home study
- Birth parent paperwork
- Birth parent counseling and support
- Administration fees
- Initial legal fees
- Post placement visits
Legal Expense:
- Document filing
- Birth certificate
- Certified copies of judgements
- Court representation
Birthparent Expense:
- In Florida these are not to exceed $5000 unless approved by the court
- The agency should determine a budget with the birthparent for necessary living expenses like food, rent, utilities, clothing, etc that must meet legal guidelines
- These should all be itemized and presented to you before the finalization hearing. I don't know if all agencies do this, but our agency even reimbursed us when the amount budgeted was not fully used.
- Medial care of the baby at time of birth are the responsibility of the adoptive parents. This scared me at first because you never know what can happen, but our agency gave us a letter to present to our adoption agency so that our normal medial insurance covered the baby beginning from birth. This is something you need to check with your insurance company at the beginning to see what their policy is.

When you add all of these tasks up, and there are more these are just the big ones, the time and legal services that go into a successful adoption should make sense.

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8. Birth - It's an exciting and emotional time when the baby is actually coming! Again, each situation and the adoptive parents' involvement is totally different. With each of our babies' births we knew we would go to the hospital when contractions started to be about 2 minutes apart. Our first daughter's birth mom was induced on 2/14 and we thought we would have a Valentine's day baby! Maddie wasn't actually born until 2/16 at 12:35am, so we were on pins and needles for like 2 days. It's good to have a task to work on, I left painting our nursery for our project and I'm glad we did because we had literally 36 hours where we needed something to occupy our time. For Maddie's birth we were in the waiting room while she was born and we got to see her right after, while they were weighting her and we got to feed her for the first time. For Evie, our 2nd one, I was actually in the room and got to see her being born and cut the cord. Different hospitals have different policies for how involved they will allow adoptive families to be. The hospital our girls were born at was very adoption friendly and as long as you are there before the baby is born, you can get the 2nd wristband so you can go in and out of the nursery and stay with the baby there if necessary.

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9. Hospital time - Our adoptions were both open adoptions, which means that we have interaction with the birth mom, closed adoption is no or little access. So I'm going to describe this in terms of open adoption. I'm going to do a blog posting on exactly what both open and closed means because that seems to be another thing people are scared of. The time after the baby is born, until you get to bring them home is probably the most emotional part of the process, and difficult to explain how it feels. In Florida, the birth mom has to sign over rights to the baby to the adoption agency before she is discharged from the hospital, which is generally 48 hours after birth, sometimes longer if she has a c-section. Again, each situation is going to be different. You want to be happy and spend time with the baby, but this is also the time that the birth mom has to connect with and come to terms with her decision. With both of ours, the hospital gave us a separate room so that we could spend time with baby but just down the hall from the birth mom so whenever she wanted to see her she could. It's a very tricky situation because you want to spend time with the baby, but not too much time that the birth mom doesn't get to, but not too little time that you aren't committed. I can't really think of another example of what unselfishness looks like, a birth mom placing her child for adoption is the ultimate example. She needs to feel loved and supported and to know that you are going to love that child with all your heart forever.

10. Signing - That 48 hours can seem like an eternity because until the birth mom signs the paperwork it's not done. Our adoption agent called us after the signing so that we could come and see the birth mom before she was discharged. With both of ours, we all prayed and cried together with the birth mom and wanted her to feel loved and secure that these sweet babies would be loved and grow up in the home they wanted for them. If the birth mom doesn't feel secure, loved, and supported she may not go through with her decision in the end. At our hospital it was funny because even though I didn't give birth, I had to be wheeled out in the wheel chair as if I had. Leaving the hospital is one of the happiest moments you will ever have, it's not the end, it's the beginning of something amazing.

11. Post Placement - After you bring baby home, there will generally be several post placement visits by your agency to make sure that everything is going smoothly. It's also a requirement so that you can finalize the adoption in court. In Florida, once the birth mother signs, she can not change her decision. In some states, they can change their mind after a certain timeframe like 30 or 60 days even after the baby has already gone home to the adoptive parents. Your agency so make you aware or what the law is in your current state.

12. Finalization -In Florida, you can officially go to court for the adoption finalization hearing after 90 days. Sometimes it takes longer depending on how backed up the courts are. The hearing is really a legal celebration of the decision you have made to adopt. The judges are generally very nice and happy during this hearing because it's probably one of the only happy things they get to do. In Hillsborough County family court, you can bring family and friends, and also have photo and video taken during the hearing. They also give the child a teddy bear which is really sweet. You basically take an oath that you are going to love and provide for the child for their entire life just as if you had actually given birth. It's a really awesome and amazing feeling to legally and officially finalize an adoption. I'll be sharing photos and video from Maddie's when I get them so you can see what it feels like.

13. Risks - Adoption is never a for sure thing until it's done. We didn't tell many people or make it public until after our birth moms had signed the paperwork and we were bringing our babies home. Sometimes it doesn't work out and the birth mom does not actually go through with her decision. We had just come off of a very emotional foster case so we were cautiously optimistic but we were in a good frame of mind because we knew if it was meant to be it would happen. It's a huge risk you take both monetarily and also emotionally. But giving birth yourself is a huge risk in the same way so it's actually not that different. You have to really trust your agency and their process to ensure that the mom's needs are being taken care of so that she can make the best decision. Some agencies won't refund any of the money you have already paid, and some will put it towards a future adoption if it's services that were already completed like a home study, application, etc. You have to pray and trust that God will put in your home the children he wants to be there, and you don't really have any control over it. It's scary, but amazing, because if you are along for the ride and open truly amazing things can happen.

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FAQs

How long do you need to be in a relationship to adopt? ›

You do not need to have been in a relationship for a set amount of time to adopt as a couple but the adoption agency will be looking for a couple who can show they have a stable and enduring relationship. In many cases part of the evidence for this may be that you have been together for at least 2 years.

How much is private adoption Florida? ›

Adoption Costs

The costs of private adoption in FL can cost anywhere from $30,000 and up. In comparison adopting a child from DCF often costs very little or nothing at all. Additionally, any required classes and the home study portion are provided free of charge.

How long does the adoption matching process take? ›

Currently most approved adopters are being matched within 6–12 months, but for some it may take a little longer. Watch our 'Meet the Adopter' webcast to find out how one adopter was dealing with the wait as well as expert advice on how to manage this difficult time from a social worker.

Can one person in a relationship adopt a child? ›

Is it more difficult to adopt as a single person? No. Potential adopters go through the same process whether they are single or living with a partner. Adoption agencies are interested in finding the best parents for the children who need an adoptive family, and they could be single or living in a couple.

Can my partner adopt my child without biological father's consent? ›

If your child has another legal parent who has parental responsibility, his or her consent is required to an adoption order (although in exceptional cases this can be waived if this is in the child's best interests). If your child's other parent does not have parental responsibility, his or her consent is not required.

Can you adopt your partner's child without being married? ›

Applying for an adoption order

You must be aged 21 years or more. If you are not married to the child's parent, you need to satisfy the court that you are living as partners in an enduring family relationship.

Is private adoption legal in Florida? ›

Private Adoption – Adopting Without an Agency

Some adoptive families wonder if they are able to adopt without using an adoption agency – and the answer is yes! In fact, only two professionals are required to legally complete a domestic adoption: a home study provider and an adoption attorney.

Do adopted kids get free college in Florida? ›

College Tuition

Florida's children adopted from care are eligible for free tuition at any Florida state university, community college or vocational school in Florida up until age 28.

How long does the adoption process take in Florida? ›

The process to become an approved adoptive parent includes attending a preparation course of ten weeks, obtaining local, state and federal background checks, MAPP/PRIDE training, current physical exam, and completion of a home study. The process can usually be completed in eight months.

Do you get credit checked for adoption? ›

During the initial stages of the adoption process, your finances will be looked through carefully. You'll need to provide proof of bills, your monthly income, payslips, bank statements and a credit check will be taken.

What happens in stage 2 of adoption? ›

Stage 2: Getting to know you more

You will also be invited to attend more detailed training to prepare you for adoption. This stage takes 4 months. Once the assessment is completed, your social worker will present a report that will lay out your strengths as an adopter to the Independent Adoption Panel.

Can you choose your adopted child? ›

Just like choosing the gender of the child you adopt, you can also choose their age. When applying through an adoption agency, they will ask you if you have an age preference and will try to match you with a child of that age.

How do I adopt my girlfriends kids? ›

If you want to adopt a stepchild, you may need the consent (or agreement) of both your spouse and the child's noncustodial parent (requirements vary by State). By giving their consent, the noncustodial parent relinquishes all rights and responsibilities, including child support.

Is adoption process hard? ›

The process of adopting can be a long, complicated and emotional ride, with far more legal and financial roadblocks than many people assume. But, as most adoptive parents will tell you, it's also a deeply fulfilling journey.

Can you adopt if you smoke? ›

Smoking will not necessarily rule you out from adopting. Consideration will be given to this and to all health- and lifestyle-related issues, and the agency will want to know of any specific health risks to you or to the children who may be placed in your care .

Can my step dad adopt me if im 30? ›

Requirements for Adult Adoption in California

That said, the court does require that the adopting adult is at least 10 years older than the adoptee, and the adopting parent and the adoptee must agree to the adoption.

Does an adopted child have more rights than a biological child? ›

Adopted children have the same rights as biological children, including being legal heirs. The child is the legitimate child by all means. And as such has the right to receive support(both emotional and financial) from both parents.

How much does it cost for my stepdad to adopt me? ›

Overall, the cost of stepchild adoption can vary state to state and ranges from $700-$3,500.

How long does a father have to be absent to lose his rights UK? ›

It doesn't matter how long the father has been absent from the life of his child, as parental responsibility is not lost by the operation of law unless the absence without a trace is for at least six years or more, when the absent father with parental responsibility may be presumed to have died.

Can a step-parent get parental responsibility? ›

If you're not the mother, you can apply to court to get parental responsibility. You need to be connected to the child, for example as their father, step-parent or 2nd female parent.

Can my step dad adopt me at 16? ›

In order to be eligible for 'step-parent adoption' the child in question must be under 18 when the application is made (and cannot be over 19 when the order itself is granted). Sadly this rules out the possibility that a step-parent can adopt their adult step-child.

How long does private adoption take in Florida? ›

The estimated timeframe of how long it takes to adopt a child in Florida is between four months to one year, depending on how specific you are about the types of adoption opportunities you're comfortable with.

What is private adoption in Florida? ›

Private domestic adoption is the voluntary placement of a child in an adoptive home by the birth parents. The birth parents consent to the placement of the child with an adoptive family of their choice. If you're adopting a newborn in Florida, there's a high likelihood that it's a private domestic adoption.

Can a child be adopted without the father consent in Florida? ›

Throughout the United States, Florida included, an unwed mother has a legal right to give a child up for adoption without the father's consent unless he takes specific steps to declare his paternity within a specified period of time.

What benefits do adoptive parents get? ›

Adoption pay and leave

Adoption pay is equal to 90% of your salary for the first six weeks of pay. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at £139.58 a week or 90% of your gross average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). If you are in a couple and both of you work, you may also share parental leave and pay.

Does adoption affect fafsa? ›

Unless your legal guardian or foster parents have legally adopted you, the FAFSA does not consider them to be your parents on the form. If they have legally adopted you, they are considered to be your parents, and you should include their information on the form.

Do adoptive parents get paid? ›

Adoptive Benefit is a payment made to a parent who is on adoptive leave from work and covered by social insurance (PRSI). Adoptive Benefit is paid for 24 weeks from the date you adopted your child. To get the full 24 weeks of Adoptive Benefit, your adoptive leave must begin on the date of adoption.

How much do foster parents get paid in Florida per month? ›

How Much Do Parents Get Paid Monthly Per Child in My State?
A-HI-MN-P
Florida: $458-$550Massachusetts: $674-$803Oklahoma: $455-$593
Georgia: $523-$630Michigan: $482-$600Oregon: $693-$795
Hawaii: $576-$676Minnesota: $641-$898Pennsylvania: Varies by county
Mississippi: $696-$876
11 more rows
5 Oct 2022

How much do foster parents get paid in Florida 2022? ›

ACTION NEEDED: As of January 1, 2022, all Level II-V foster parents previously receiving a 2020 room and board rate in the amount of $484.06, $496.46, or $581.09, for the child(ren) in their care must be paid the increase as specified in section 409.145(3), F.S.

What checks do they do for adoption? ›

Checks during this stage will include:
  • A full DBS check, to make sure you can safely look after a child (or children) throughout their life. ...
  • Checks with the local authority social care, child protection and education services where you live or have lived.
  • A full medical check with your own GP.

What credit score do you need to adopt? ›

SoFi Bank, N.A: Great for zero fees
ProsCons
Receive a 0.25% APR discount for signing up for autopayNeed to have a minimum credit score of 680 to qualify
Pauses loan payments to qualified borrowers if you become unemployedHigh minimum loan amount of $5,000, but could be higher depending on which state you live in
1 more row
30 Sept 2021

How long does an adoption assessment take? ›

If your registration of interest is accepted we can move you onto the more formal two-stage assessment process which should take about 6 months to complete.

What happens in Stage 1 of adoption? ›

Stage 1 is all about preparing you for your adoption journey. This stage takes approximately 2 months. We will conduct a series of checks (local authority checks, DBS, medical and ex-partner checks) as well as consulting your referees.

How can I speed up my adoption process? ›

Generally, families that are more receptive to adopting a child regardless of race will be quickest to match. They will be presented to more birth parents and have more opportunities to be chosen. Opening up the age range can also result in a faster adoption.

What are the stages of adoption process? ›

From start to finish, the product adoption process goes through six stages: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, activation, and finally adoption.

Can an adoption order be overturned? ›

Birth parents can ask the court to revoke a Placement Order in certain circumstances and can also ask the court for leave to appeal against an Adoption Order. If leave is granted to appeal, then in some situations an Adoption Order may be overturned.

Can you adopt an adult? ›

Adoption is the same legal process whether the individual is a child or an adult. The court issues a new birth certificate for the adopted individual and any existing legal relationships with biological or custodial parents are severed.

Can an adopted child live with birth parents? ›

If your child is over the age of 18, there is little that you can do about the decision to go live with their birth parents. You can definitely communicate with your child about why they have made this decision and support them in any way that you can, depending on the circumstances.

When you marry someone with a child does it become yours? ›

When you marry someone with children, you may or may not be able to claim the children as dependents on your tax return. Ordinarily, the parent who has custody of the children is entitled to claim the exemption, regardless of who pays child support.

Can I adopt my girlfriend's child without being married in Ohio? ›

In the state of Ohio, you can adopt as a single person or as a married couple only. In order for both partners to establish legal parenthood, they must be married to each other. In some counties, you also must be married for a full year before the court will grant an adoption.

Do I have to be married for my boyfriend to adopt my child in Indiana? ›

If you are married, both you and your spouse must sign the petition. Unmarried couples cannot petition to adopt together, only one partner may be the petitioner.

Can I adopt my girlfriend's child without being married in California? ›

But, like other states, California has also allowed adults who are unmarried but in a relationship with a biological parent to adopt that parent's child through what is called a “second parent adoption.”

Who comes first wife or child? ›

In a marriage with children, it may seem counterintuitive to not put the kids first, says psychologist Yvonne Thomas. "However, it's actually healthier to make your spouse the first priority." This is because it benefits all of your family members.

Should I date a girl who has kids? ›

When you're dating a woman with kids, you're going to have to respect that her kids come first. There will be many times when the kids will mean less time together, and not every person feels comfortable with that. If you aren't accepting of a woman's children, then you shouldn't be dating her.

What last name does baby take if not married? ›

Unmarried Mother

Until paternity is established, she enjoys sole legal custody, which means she is the only one with authority under California law to name her child. Thus, she may choose any last name she likes. She can give the child her last name, the father's last name, or any last name she wants.

How do I adopt my girlfriends kids? ›

If you want to adopt a stepchild, you may need the consent (or agreement) of both your spouse and the child's noncustodial parent (requirements vary by State). By giving their consent, the noncustodial parent relinquishes all rights and responsibilities, including child support.

How does private adoption work in Ohio? ›

Private Independent Adoption

This kind of adoption involves a child who isn't in the custody of the county or state. Private adoption involves a direct arrangement between the adoptive and birth parents. In this type of adoption, the birth parents give consent to the adoptive parents. Anyone may help with adoption.

Can a biological parent regain custody after adoption? ›

Answer. If your parental rights have been terminated by a court of law and/or your children have been legally adopted, in most states there is no provision for reinstating parental rights or reversing an adoption decree except under certain circumstances such as fraud, duress, coercion, etc.

Can my husband adopt my child without biological father's consent Indiana? ›

Indiana adoption law has provisions by which a stepparent can adopt a child without the consent of the noncustodial, biological parent.

How can I adopt my boyfriend's daughter? ›

In California, an unmarried person may adopt their partner's child through a process known as “second parent adoption.” Basically, the custodial parent “places” their child for adoption with their partner but executes an addendum in which they retain their parental rights.

How much does it cost to adopt a stepchild in Indiana? ›

Currently, the required background can be completed for as little as $200. The third part of the costs for a stepparent adoption include the attorney fees. These vary greatly depending on the attorney's knowledge and experience with adoption. Generally, attorney fees will be at least $2,000.

How long does a father have to be absent to lose his rights in California? ›

California law allows for parents' rights to be terminated if he has not exercised his parental rights like visitation for at least six months.

Is an adopted child more likely to be like his or her birth parents or adoptive parents? ›

In terms of weight, adopted children tend to resemble their biological parents more than they do their adoptive parents.

How much does an adoption cost? ›

According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, working with a private agency to adopt a healthy newborn or baby or to adopt from another country can cost $5,000 to $40,000. Some agencies have a sliding scale based on the prospective adoptive parent's income.

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