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Quick Comparison of Adoption Types

Also available in a printable version

Listen to an hour long discussion of the variables in this chart at Adoption Options: What Type of Adoption is Best for You.

  International Domestic Private Domestic Public
Age of child Youngest is usually 12 months. Many toddlers and pre-school aged children. School aged children are also available. Primarily newborns. Majority are over age 6; some younger children available but often in sibling groups and most placed with foster-to-adopt families before they are legally free for adoption.
Current Health information on child Varies by country but all countries give a current assessment on health and some are quite extensive. Complete Complete
Prenatal care and habits of birth mother Prenatal care varies greatly by country; if child is relinquished rather than abandoned birth mothers are usually asked about prenatal care and habits, but the information is not usually extensive. Prenatal care varies; birth mothers are asked about prenatal care and habits. Varies greatly.
Birth Family Medical History Very little with most countries. Usually detailed questionnaires are asked of birth mother and birthfather (if known). Varies
Select Gender and Age? Usually yes, although adoption agencies may prohibit gender selection with first child. Usually no Yes, but few infants or toddlers are available that are not part of sibling group.
Paperwork Lots Minimal by comparison Minimal by comparison, although families usually must attend a 10-12 weeks educational preparatory course.
Possibility of Birth Parent changing mind In most countries there is little possibility by the time the child is referred. States require that birth parent must wait from 1-15 days after birth to consent to the adoption. States allow 0-180 days for birth parent to revoke their consent. After that time period there is little risk The goal of the foster system is family reunification when possible. When this is not in the best interest of the child, the state seeks to terminate parental rights. Parents can contest the termination. There are children available whose parental rights have already been terminated.
Waiting time until child is home 12-36 months depending on country and gender; time is usually predictable. A few countries, such as the China traditional adoption program, have significantly longer waits. See China Adoption Chart for different programs. Varies greatly depending on how appealing biography is to a birth mother; how much you can afford to spend on advertising and applying to different facilitators and agencies; and health, race and risk factors of the child you are willing to consider. Varies greatly depending on flexibility of parents; can have child in your home while adoption is being finalized.
Contact with birth parents Usually not, although may be possible in some countries. Yes, with trend towards increased contact after adoption. Varies; often contact with birth siblings or extended family members is requested.
Age of parents 25-60 Most states have no legal restrictions; agencies often have age requirements; even where agency or attorney have no requirement, parents over 40 or younger than 25 are selected less often by birth parents. No restrictions depending on what is in the best interest of the child.
Marital Status Depends on the country. See Country Adoption Charts . Most states have no legal restrictions, but single applicants are selected less often by birth parents. No restrictions depending on needs of child.
Travel Usually; Some countries allow the child to be escorted to the US. See Country Adoption Charts . Yes, if child is born in another state. The adoption must be processed through the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children, which may require adoptive parents to spend up to a week in the state of birth, usually with the child in their care. Listen to the Creating a Family podcast on Domestic Adoption: Finding a Child & Adopting Across State Lines Only if adopting a child in another state. (See Domestic Adoption: Finding a Child & Adopting Across State Lines )
Cost $20,000-$60,000
(average $30- 35K)
(average $28-35K)
Minimal (monthly adoption subsidies often available even after adoption)
Predictability of Cost Fairly Predictable Can vary greatly, but more predictable with agency adoption where adoptive parents are not responsible for birth mother medical costs. Predictable
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