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Adoption: The Different Types and What You Need to Know

Deciding to adopt is a big decision for any family, and everyone has their own reasons for wanting to do so.  Bringing a new child into your home is exciting, but also can be daunting for families who don't know where to begin the process.  Additionally, as our legal system treats parental rights as one of the most sacred, it can be helpful to educate yourself on the types of adoption before embarking on the journey.  Let the below information serve as a starting point to give you the basics on the types of adoptions available and about your rights as future adoptive parents.

Common Categories of Adoption:

  1. Agency adoptions. Adoptions facilitated through private or public agencies, which are regulated by the state and licensed to place children with adoptive parents. An agency can help you choose a prospective birth mother or child and do much of the screening for you. A public agency most likely works with children in the juvenile dependency system, while a private agency works outside that arena. There are pros and cons to both, so it would be helpful to interview a few agencies to figure out which you feel most comfortable working with.
  2. Independent adoptions. This type of adoption is a direct arrangement between birth parents and adoptive parents. Pennsylvania allows for independent adoptions (though not all states do). But, there can still be many requirements and restrictions so if you decide to go this route, it is suggested you contact a family law attorney to help.
  3. Open adoptions. This is a type of independent adoption that allows the biological parents to maintain some form of limited contact even after adoption. Pennsylvania has put this practice into law with the passage of statute "Act 101" and voluntary post-adoption contact agreements.
  4. Closed adoptions. This type of adoption is the other end of the spectrum from an open adoption. In closed adoptions the files are usually physically sealed.
  5. Stepparent adoptions. A stepparent adoption is when one parent's new husband or wife wants to adopt the parent's child from a previous relationship. Many families choose this option to signify the bond of a new family or show acceptance of a new parent-child relationship. It can have estate planning and financial benefits as well.
  6. International adoptions. International adoption can be an option if a family wishes to look outside of the United States to find their future child. This can be the most complicated of the adoption processes as it requires navigating both state and international law. Additionally, some counties who have historically facilitated many international adoptions have changed their policies or closed their doors, so it is smart to contact an attorney to help.
  7. Same-sex adoptions. This option is available for gay or lesbian couples who would otherwise be unable to have a child together to adopt. This can be done via a method listed above or potentially through a donor or surrogate.

Regardless of which method of adoption you choose, make sure you have all the information you need to proceed with the process. The Law Office of Diana C. Schimmel, Esquire offers free initial consultations and can provide personalized service to guide your family through adoption.

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