Considering adoption but not sure where to begin? There are many ways that the 135,000 children adopted every year in the U.S. find homes. Here are some frequently asked questions about adoption answered by our Maven experts.

What are the different ways to adopt a child?

There’s no “right way” to adopt a child. You can adopt through the foster care system, work with an adoption agency, or find an expectant mother or family in need on your own and hire an adoption attorney to finalize the adoption. 

Here are the three most common ways to adopt:

  • Foster to adoption: There are over 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States. The primary goal for children being fostered is to ultimately reunite with their biological parents, but for those who aren’t able to, families are able to adopt their foster children. Aspiring foster parents are required to complete a home study (a written report created by a caseworker through interviews, background checks, references, and more) and training to ensure fostering is the right fit. 
  • Domestic infant adoption: People who want to adopt an infant domestically also start with a home study, and can then decide if they want to adopt through an adoption agency, consulting service, or a private adoption lawyer. 
  • International adoption: International adoptions still make up 26% of U.S. adoptions,  despite a decline in the practice in the last two decades. The process, laws, and requirements for adoptive parents vary from country to country. 

Adoption rules vary based on where you’re adopting from. If you’re adopting a child born in a different state or country, you’ll need to learn the laws of both places. Private adoption agencies can also set their own additional restrictions. For instance, they may only allow you to apply for adoption if you’re infertile, if you’re married, or if you’re under a certain age. There are also many restrictions around sex-same couples adopting internationally. Even in the U.S., some states require one partner to adopt with primary parentage, and the “secondary” parent must apply through a separate process. 

What are the different types of adoption? 

  • Open: The adoptive and birth families share identifying information and stay in touch during and after the adoption process
  • Semi-open: Referred to as “mediated adoptions,” no identifying information is shared and communication between the adoptive and birth parents is organized through an adoption agency
  • Closed: The birth parents and adoptive parents do not communicate or share identifying information 

What questions should you ask an adoption agency? 

If you’re adopting through an agency, it’s important to remember that not all adoption agencies will give you the same level of support and assistance. As you search for adoption agencies, you should look for credible agencies that are licensed and will support you through every step of the process. 

When you meet with agencies, you should ask: 

  • How many expectant parents do you work with? 
  • What is the average wait time for a child to be placed?
  • How much will the process cost? Do you pay upfront or are there additional charges along the way? 
  • Is there a fee for the home study? 
  • What support services do you offer for prospective adoptive parents? 
  • How do you support expectant mothers? 
  • Do you offer open adoptions, closed adoptions, or both? 
  • Is there a licensed attorney on staff?
  • What is the screening process for adoptive families? 
  • What is the wait list like? 
  • What counseling services are available? 

It takes a village to adopt a child—make sure your village will be there for you. 

How much does adoption cost? 

The price of adoption can vary widely based on what path you choose. When adoptive parents work with an agency, the process can generally cost between $20,000 and $50,000, depending on factors like age and birth location. There are agencies that have sliding scale fees based on the adoptive parents’ income that may be cheaper than the given range. If you choose to adopt through a lawyer without an agency, fees may range from $25,000 to $45,000. Most adoptions through foster care are free and often funded by the government. 

What is a home study? 

There’s a thorough system in place to make sure adoption is right for you and your family. The official term for this process is “home study,” where a social worker gets to know you and your family over a period of three to six months. While the idea of being studied sounds intimidating, the goal isn’t to present a squeaky-clean version of yourself: it’s to be authentic. Remember, these steps are only put in place to ensure the safety of the child—and that you’re making a match that will last a lifetime. 

How Maven can help

You likely have more questions, but you don’t have to do this alone. If you need personalized guidance on the adoption process, our Care Advocates and Adoption Coaches can help you every step of the way. Maven is here to support you—find more resources for your pathway to parenthood in the Maven app. 

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