Adoption Options and Their Pros and Cons


Adoption is a long and difficult process, and there are many different types of adoption, with varying advantages and disadvantages. We receive many questions about the adoption options available in the state of California, and so we’ve put together a breakdown of the three most common types of adoption, with brief descriptions of their benefits and drawbacks.

It should be noted that these are not complete and comprehensive descriptions. If you would like more assistance, please contact us on our site, or call us at (916) 400-4516.

Independent Adoption

Independent adoption (sometimes referred to as open adoption or private adoption) is perhaps the most complex route to adopting a child, as it’s essentially a do-it-yourself process. In independent adoptions, you do all of the footwork: looking for parents who are willing to give another family the privilege of raising their child, meeting with the parents, contacting your local California adoption service provider, securing a lawyer to handle the legal aspects of the process, and so on.

Independent adoption can be a good choice for prospective adoptive parents who wish to develop a close relationship with the birth parents of a child and be more intimately involved in the adoption process. Additionally, independent adoptions can sometimes take much less time than adoptions through an agency, due to the lack of waitlists and time-consuming legal processes, and can cost far less than an agency adoption.

However, independent adoptions have many potential pitfalls. Without extensive research about the adoption process and the laws regulating it, it’s easy to make costly and time-consuming mistakes. The complications of an open adoption can exact an emotional toll as well: adoptive parents and birth parents who arrange an adoption independently don’t always receive counseling during the adoption process, unless they are proactive enough to arrange for it themselves. This can result in unexpected emotional difficulties down the road, or even cause the adoption to fail.

Agency Adoptions

When you think of an adoption, this is probably what comes to mind. In an agency adoption, prospective adoptive parents go through a public or private agency which facilitates adoptions. The details of an agency adoption can vary widely. In some cases, you may not even be able to learn the names of a child’s parents, while some agencies encourage open adoptions in which you can meet with the biological parents, and possibly even stay in contact with them long-term.

There are a lot of advantages to adopting a child through a reputable agency. An agency can navigate the complex legal process of adopting a child, provide you with the necessary preparation and counseling, and file necessary paperwork. In addition, good agencies are well experienced in placing children with the adoptive parents that will give them the best possible chance for success. Agency adoptions are a good choice for those who want the maximum possible security and guidance.

The main shortcomings of agency adoptions are time and money. Agency adoptions are time-consuming, sometimes taking years to complete. Agency adoptions are also very expensive, due to the extensive and costly services provided by adoption agencies; agency adoptions can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Stepparent Adoption

A stepparent adoption is exactly what it sounds like: when a stepparent chooses to become the legal guardian of their spouse’s child.

Under ideal circumstances, stepparent adoption is the least complicated and most successful type of adoption, due to the continued involvement of one birth parent and the fact that there is usually already a loving bond in place between stepparent and child. In addition, stepparent adoptions are much less expensive and time-intensive than other forms of adoption.

However, stepparent adoptions are complicated by one key issue: the other birth parent must either willingly surrender their parental rights and responsibilities, or have them legally terminated. For the latter to occur, it must be shown in court that the other birth parent has somehow abandoned their child or is unfit to be a parent. Without the other parent’s consent or the termination of their parental rights, a stepparent cannot adopt a stepchild.

It should be noted that a stepparent must be legally married to a child’s parent in order to adopt a child through the stepparent adoption procedure.

Adoption is a complicated process, and there are many other forms of adoption in addition to those described above. If you would like more information or assistance, contact a lawyer experienced in California adoption law, such as the lawyers at Toeppen & Grevious.