Resources on all aspects of domestic and intercountry adoption, including adoption from foster care. Includes information for prospective and adoptive parents; information about searching for birth relatives; and resources for professionals on recruiting adoptive families, preparing children and youth, supporting birth parents, and providing postadoption services.
Adoption is a lifelong, life-changing journey for all members of the adoption triad: birth parents, adopted people, and adoptive parents. Adoption, the legal transfer of parental rights from one parent to another, provides children with love, nurturance, and stability and promotes their well-being and their opportunity to become healthy, productive adults.
In the United States adoption is governed by State law, although State law must comply with overarching Federal legislation.
Adoption is essential for the permanency of many children, including:
- Children and youth in foster care who will not be reunited with their birth parents. In many cases these children are adopted by other birth relatives.
- Other U.S. infants and children whose birth parents make adoption plans for them. Birth mothers or fathers may or may not have ongoing contact with the adoptive family or child.
- Children in other countries who need families. In intercountry adoptions, little or no information may be known about a child's birth family at the time of adoption.
Public agencies place foster children for adoption. Private agencies sometimes contract with the public child welfare agency to place foster children; they also may place U.S. infants, or children from other countries. In some States, facilitators (attorneys, physicians, or other intermediaries) may coordinate adoptions without an agency's involvement.
Research demonstrates that most children who are adopted thrive. With training and support, the most ordinary people have grown into their roles as adoptive parents with amazing results. These parents clearly show that adoption is one path to the love, stability, and nurturing all children need.
- Frequently asked questions
Types of Adoption
Find information on all types of domestic and intercountry adoption, interjurisdictional placements and types of adoptive families.
The domestic adoption section includes information on foster care, kinship, domestic infant, customary (Native American), and independent/private (attorney) adoptions, as well as guardianship. The reasons children enter foster care and characteristics of children in care are also addressed.
The intercountry adoption section includes information and resources on the adoption and readoption processes, adoption from specific countries, and the Hague Convention.
- Domestic adoption
- Intercountry adoption
- Interjurisdictional placement
- Types of adoptive families
For Prospective Adoptive Parents
Information on how to adopt, types of adoption, the home study process, financial assistance, laws and policies, characteristics of children who wait for families, issues unique to various types of families, and information useful both before and after a child is placed in your family.
- How to adopt
- The adoption home study process
- Funding adoption
- Legal considerations for prospective adoptive parents
Foster Care Adoption
Foster care adoption involves the adoption of children who are living in the U.S. foster care system. These adoptions are usually handled through local and regional public agencies; however some States contract with licensed private agencies to recruit, train, conduct home studies and license adoptive parents for these children. In some States prospective parents will be dually licensed as both foster and an adoptive parents.
While most children who are adopted from foster care are adopted by their foster parents and other children are adopted by their relatives, nationwide there are still many thousands of children in the U.S. foster care system waiting for permanent families (See the Trends in Foster Care Adoption from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System on the Children's Bureau website for the most recent years' numbers of children waiting: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends.htm. Child welfare professionals must recruit potential adoptive families for these children who are waiting for adoption.
- Foster care adoption strategies and programs
- Recruiting, preparing, and retaining foster/adoptive parents
- Children waiting for adoption
- Legal issues and laws on foster care adoption
- National Adoption Month
- Related resources
Recruiting, Preparing & Retaining Foster/Adoptive Parents
Strategies, tools, and organizations to help professionals identify, recruit, prepare, and retain resource families (foster, adoptive, and kinship families) for children waiting for adoptive families. Resources include State and local examples.
- Recruiting foster/adoptive parents
- Preparing foster/adoptive parents
- Retaining foster/adoptive parents
Preparing & Supporting Children and Youth
Children and youth in out-of-home care need preparation and support as part of the permanency planning process.
- Preparing children and youth for permanency
- Transition and postplacement support
Supporting Birth Parents
- For pregnant women, birth mothers, fathers, & relatives
- Working with birth parents
Find resources on adoption assistance, counseling, support groups, maintaining important connections for children, trainings, parenting and school issues, and improving postadoption practice.
- Adoption assistance
- Research and outcome studies on postadoption services
- Help for families
Search & Reunion
Find information and resources on searching for birth relatives, reunion, obtaining birth and adoption records, support groups, and relevant laws and policies.
- Searching for birth relatives
- Obtaining birth and/or adoption records
- Lifelong impact of adoption
- Support groups