What is Private Adoption? 

What is private adoption?


Domestic adoptions in the United States are conducted either through an agency or with the assistance of an adoption attorney.  In a domestic agency adoption, the adoption agency is an intermediary between the prospective adoptive parents and the birth parents throughout the process.  


In a private adoption, on the other hand, the process is pursued directly by the prospective adoptive parents with the assistance of an adoption attorney. Birth parents decide how to identify prospective adoptive parents and when to contact them; and they are able to relinquish custody directly to the adoptive parents, not to an agency.


The prospective adoptive parents are responsible for, and have control over, adoption decision-making, outreach and process.  Once one has decided to pursue private adoption, he or she should engage an experienced adoption attorney and get the word out.


What is the role of the adoption attorney?


The laws governing adoption and the role of the adoption attorney vary from state to state.  In interstate adoptions (where the birth parents and adoptive parents live in different states), more than one state’s laws may apply, and the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) dictates procedures for the transfer of children from one state to another.  An experienced adoption attorney can help navigate the laws and regulations. Some information about state adoption laws can be found here.


The adoption attorney can provide guidance on the adoption process, review the prospective adoptive parents’ home study, handle legal documents, ensure that the birth mother and birth father’s rights are addressed, and represent birth and adoptive parents at the adoption court hearing. In several states, attorneys can even help locate and screen expecting parents. It is often advised that the adoptive and birth parents are represented by different attorneys, to avoid a potential conflict of interest.


For a list of certified adoption attorneys in your state, please see the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys website.


Who are we?


Families for Private Adoption (FPA) is a volunteer network of adoptive families, adoption professionals, and prospective adoptive parents.  Our mission is to provide education, support and encouragement for prospective adoptive families pursuing private adoption.   


How can we help?


FPA holds two Successful Adoption Workshops every year.  The full day workshops provide an overview of how the laws work and resources for advertising and outreach.  But perhaps most important of all, the workshops are an opportunity to meet people who have built their families through private adoption.


FPA has a buddy system that can connect you to a current adoptive family who can tell you about their experiences, provide ideas and suggestions, answer questions, and provide encouragement all along the way.


FPA sponsors annual events for adoptive parents and children throughout the year, including a winter party and a summer picnic for kids and a wine and cheese party for parents.  These events are wonderful for meeting other families and networking.