What Is Independent Adoption?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on April 18, 2022
4 min read

Though the process can be tedious and time-consuming, adoption is a great option for all involved parties. Adoptive families and the birth parents who cannot care for their babies are both giving them a better life, and many adoptive families and parents from birth choose to try a private adoption for this major step. This is also known as an independent adoption. 

Adoption agencies offer several options for the adoptive family and the birth mother. With independent adoptions, though, agencies are not always required depending on the state.

A domestic, private adoption that does not use an agency is known as an independent adoption. It is sometimes the method of choice when a pregnant mom already has chosen whom she wants to adopt her baby. Both the birth mom and the adoptive family may like this approach because it seems hassle-free. 

With independent or private adoptions, birth parents place their child directly with their family of choice instead of going through a third-party agency. Even though this method is simpler, it is not legal in some states.

Though in some states, an agency is not required, for independent adoptions to work, several professionals should be hired to handle numerous steps in the adoption process, including:

  •  A Counselor – A counselor is not required, however, it is recommended for the birth mom. A counselor can help her to work through the emotions involved with giving up her baby
  • An Attorney – The lawyer is a professional who specializes in adoption. They are needed to legally terminate the birthrights of the birth mom and finalize the adoption legally in court. 
  • A Home Study Provider – A licensed professional has to complete a home study for the adoption to legally proceed. The home study is required to make sure the adoptive family can give the baby a stable and safe home. 

The first contact is made between the birth family and the adoptive parent directly or through a mediator. The adoption intentions will be discussed, and in some states, financial assistance or support may be considered. Medical care and financial means to arrange counseling for the expectant mom may be taken on by the adoptive parent in some states, however, there cannot be any sort of direct cash payment for the baby.

In all 50 of the United States, specific information has to be exchanged between adoptive and birth parents. Though outside parties may assist, the interaction must be directed by principals because, at this stage, no legally binding contract has been drawn.

If the birth mom chooses to continue on this path, she needs to get a reputable adoption attorney in her state. They will go over her rights, the father's rights, and the legal steps needed for a legitimate adoption.

If the parents are not sure who they want to have their baby, an acquaintance can often introduce a birth parent to a family interested in an independent adoption. This acquaintance may be a friend, doctor, coworker, pastor, or lawyer. 

It is illegal for the birth mom to promise the child in exchange for gifts, money, or promises of additional help. The law does, however, permit reimbursement for maternity items, medical care, living expenses, etc. in some states like Wisconsin. This protects the best interest of the child.  

For the independent process of adoption, there is no organization overseeing the process. There are, however, independent adoption laws and procedures ensuring that:

  • The adoptive parent choice has to be made by the birth mom or birth parents.
  • If the baby is born outside of the adoptive parent's state, the adoptive parents must satisfy the requirements to have a home study done before the baby's birth.
  • The appointed attorney representing the adoptive parents will coordinate with the birth parent's attorney.

A private adoption outside of a public welfare agency can be quite expensive.

Private agency adoption: The costs can vary based on the agency used and circumstances, but the range can be from $20,000 to $45,000. These costs cover a home study, legal fees, pre- and post-adoption counseling, medical expenses, social work services, preparation and training for adoptive parents, care for the child, and placement supervision.

Independent adoptions with attorney assistance: These could range from $15,000 to $40,000. That range could include a home study, medical expenses for the birth mom, and separate legal fees for both sets of parents. If there are complications in the birth process, such expenses must be covered.

International adoption: These fees can vary from country to country. The costs are higher than domestic adoption because foreign travel and immigration fees may be involved. This is in addition to mandatory adoption education, court costs, and related documentation. The average cost could be between $20,000 and $50,000.

Usually, birth father rights are separated into two categories: “alleged” fathers and “presumed” fathers. Biological paternal rights depend on legal position and vary from state to state.

Rights of presumed fathers: The presumed father's consent is almost always required for an adoption. If he is not the biological father but is a legal guardian, he must still be notified of plans for adoption. If his location is unknown, an extensive attempt to find him must be carried out. The man can be the presumed father if he is married to the birth mom or unmarried but receiving the child in his home and declaring the child to be biologically his.

Rights of alleged fathers: To get the right to custody or block adoption, an alleged father must file legally to establish paternity. His consent is not needed for adoption. In some states, a man cannot be considered the father of a child unless he has added his name to the state-maintained paternity registry.

Show Sources


Adoption Choice Inc: “Independent Adoption.”

Adoptions With Love: “What is Independent Adoption?”


PACT Adoption Alliance: “Private Adoption: Also Known as Independent Adoption.”

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