The single most important decision you must make before beginning your adoption journey is determining the type of adoption that is right for your family. As you consider your choices, it will be important to listen to what your heart is telling you: your heart’s desire will lead you through this first step of determining the best type of adoption to pursue. If possible, speak to others who have recently gone through the type of adoption you are considering, and use the Internet to find out more about your choices and to better understand what the pros and cons are of each.
A small percentage of US adoptions are international. International adoptions—defined as an adoption where the child lives outside of the US and is a citizen of another country—may provide greater options for adoptive parents, such as selecting age or gender. International adoption is not without risk, however, and countries are constantly opening and closing their doors to adoption. It is also the case that countries can add additional restrictions at any time.
A much larger percentage of US adoptions are done through domestic agencies: Nearly two-thirds of US adoptions are arranged through some type of agency, whether public or private.
Public adoption agencies are licensed and run by the state, county, or city, and are funded by tax dollars. The children they represent tend to be older and may face emotional challenges or disabilities, and the identity of the birth parents may or may not be disclosed. Fees associated with this kind of adoption are usually very low or even non-existent.
Private adoption agencies can be either for- or not-for-profit; funding usually comes from the adoptive parents. These agencies bring together birth parents and potential adoptive parents and they sometimes allow the birth mother to choose who will adopt her child. Private adoptions can take several forms: working with an adoption attorney, an agency, a facilitator, or any combination of professionals.
Although private adoption carries a higher price tag than public adoption (which is usually free), many families choose private adoption because of its numerous benefits, including:
—greater access to potential birth parents
—greater chance of being selected for a child sooner
—help in handling the maze of adoption paperwork
—less chance of details being overlooked
—more personalized services for both adoptive parents and birth parents
In the end, your circumstances—financial and otherwise—will be a large determinant in the type of adoption you pursue. But before looking to circumstances, look to your heart. Spend time with your spouse talking and praying about what each of you wants, and what you feel lead toward. You may find that from this deep conversation and prayer your circumstances rise to meet your heart’s desire.