Independent adoption occurs when an adoptive family finds a birth mother through means other than an adoption agency. Some people ask, “Can I legally adopt without an agency?” The answer is yes. You need only two professionals to complete an adoption: a licensed adoption attorney and a home study provider.
How Do Adoptive Parents Find a Birth Mother?
This varies, but it often happens through mutual acquaintances. You might make this connection through a physician, pastor, coworker or school friend. The state of Florida does not permit families to advertise to find a birth mother. Hopeful parents can, however, tell everyone they know that they want to adopt. They can reach out to churches, doctor’s offices and schools. They can even attend adoption support groups and seminars to spread the word of their desire to adopt.
Birth Mother and Adoptive Family Screening
Adoptive families must complete a home study. So, birth mothers can rest assured the selected family completed the screening process. However, when a family locates a birth mother on its own, the screening of the birth mother is often lacking. Some women may not be emotionally prepared for this journey or may hide issues in their medical history. More unfortunate is the possibility of a scam. While it is rare, some women may not be truthful about their pregnancy or intention to place their child for adoption. If you are pursuing an independent adoption and have suspicions about the birth mother, contact your attorney to discuss screening options.
Support for Birth Families
Adoptive families should plan on providing financial support to the birth mother. This support includes expenses related to pregnancy and birth, as well as necessary living expenses allowed by law. The adoptive family will also cover legal fees and any counseling the birth mother receives. Hopeful families should speak with their attorney about providing financial support. The law is clear about what families can and cannot offer to an expectant mother, and how the funds are managed. Under no circumstance should an adoptive family give a prospective birth mother payments. Always speak to an attorney to ensure money is handled lawfully.
Is Independent Adoption Right for Me?
This type of adoption is best suited for those who meet the following criteria:
- An adoptive family and birth mother who already a connection.
- Adoptive families who want to find a birth mother on their own.
- People who want more control over the adoption process.
- Those who want an open or semi-open adoption.
Are There Closed Independent Adoptions?
It is challenging to maintain anonymity in an independent adoption. There is usually some contact between the birth mother and adoptive family, so identities are difficult to conceal. Additionally, the birth mother might want pictures and updates from the adoptive family. If she does, using a third-party mail service would keep last names and addresses private. Independent adoptions are inherently “open.”
Including Agency Services
Because adoption agencies have a lot to offer, it’s not uncommon for an independent adoption to include some agency services. Because of this, my office works closely with a well-respected agency here in Florida. For those who want to include an agency in their adoption, we always have that option available to clients.
If you are interested in pursuing an independent adoption, either as an adoptive family or birth mother, contact licensed adoption attorney, Tammi Driver, for assistance. 727-800-6681