Domestic adoption rates have increased over the last few decades. According to the National Council for Adoption, there are now over 20,000 domestic adoptions per year. While the annual number of domestic adoptions has been increasing, the annual number of international adoptions has been decreasing.
Adoption is a journey for all involved in the process with the hope of the best possible life for all. Many couples are unable to have children on their own but would love to be parents, and others already have children but want to expand their families further. Adoption is a choice that opens up opportunities for all involved, including the birthparents, the adoptive parents, and the children themselves.
Giving up a child is a hard decision for young birthparents to make, but it can lead to a better life for both them and the child. In domestic adoptions, birthparents can choose the extent of contact with the child and the adoptive parents with open, semi-open, and closed adoptions. In some domestic newborn adoptions, the birthparents can choose the adoptive parents. And also for some domestic adoptions, the birthparents and the adoptive parents meet before the adoption, which lets birthparents know what type of household the child will go to. It is also becoming increasingly popular for the adoptive parents and the birthparents to build relationships with each other. In the United States, many adoptive parents help the birthparents prior to the adoption in different ways, such as helping pay for living expenses and utilities or doctors visits.
Hopeful domestic adoption parents must go through a “home study” to see if they would be capable and committed parents. Domestic adoption does have the negative stereotype that it takes years for prospective adopters to be matched with children from the time that they first apply; however, according to a 2012-2013 Adoptive Families survey, about half of respondents were matched with a birthmother in less than six months.
Adoption is also good for the child as the adoptive parents have the time and commitment for guidance that children need in their daily lives. Depending on the state they reside in, the birthparents are able look for either couples or single parents and those already with some children or those with no children. Thus, they can have a say in what type of family environment the child will grow up in.
There are several differences between domestic adoption and international adoption. A big difference is that while medical records for international adoptions are limited, those for domestic adoptions are more thorough, so prospective adoptive parents can choose what they feel they are prepared to care for.
A major concern of those considering domestic adoption is potential legal troubles and “co-parenting.” But once the adoption goes through the courts and the birthparents decide on what type of adoption they want—open, semi-open, or closed—the child is then recognized by law as part of the family of the adoptive parents. And after the adoption is finalized, contact is limited to what has already been agreed upon.
Adoption is an important life decision and journey for all involved and should be thoroughly researched—including the differences of international adoption and domestic adoption and the differences of open, semi-open, and closed adoptions—so both the birthparents and the prospective adoptive parents are well informed of the details.
By Meagan Devlin