What is a Private Adoption?

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  • Written By: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2020
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A private adoption generally occurs without the assistance of a licensed child-placement agency. In a typical case, the prospective parents desire to adopt either a baby, child, or multiple siblings with whom they already have some type of connection. For instance, the child may have been orphaned by friends or relatives of the prospective parents. In other situations, the birth parents are no longer able to care for their child and are seeking to have the child adopted by people they have selected or are acquainted with. A private adoption may also be referred to as an independent adoption or a non-agency adoption.

Private adoptions generally follow a different process than adoptions that occur through a child-placement agency. Usually, the adoption is triggered when the prospective parents have expressed an interest in adopting a particular child. With a newborn private adoption, the prospective parents may have a specific pregnant woman in mind. Once the child or birth mother has been identified, the parents normally hire a private adoption lawyer specializing in family law to handle the legal details. In some circumstances, the parents may retain the lawyer to locate a child or birth mother for them.

Not all jurisdictions allow private adoptions. In the jurisdictions that do, the requirements can vary significantly. The adopting parents and their lawyer must carefully adhere to each requirement throughout the adoption process. Failing to do so may result in a challenge to the legality of the adoption.


Most jurisdictions require the prospective parents to obtain consent from both of the birth parents. In addition, a private adoption is customarily subject to a court process before it can be finalized. During this process, a social worker usually conducts a homestudy, which is a detailed evaluation of the prospective parents' home and life. Some jurisdictions also require the birth parents to undergo counseling before the adoption is finalized. Normally, the prospective parents cover their own legal expenses as well as the birth mother’s medical expenses, if the child is a newborn, as well as the birth parents’ legal fees.

Identified adoption, also called designated adoption, is a type of private adoption in which the prospective parents and the birth parents find one another independent of a child-placement agency. After they have located each other, they then use a licensed agency to complete the adoption. The agency typically performs tasks like conducting the homestudy, assisting with the court process, and handling paperwork. The agency may also offer counseling services to the birth parents.



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