A good starting point for your adoption journey is to decide whether to use an attorney or agency to handle the adoption process.  Every adoption must comply with the law and be approved by the court.  In the U.S., at least as many newborns are placed through attorney-assisted adoptions as through agency adoptions.

Benefits of Using an Adoption Attorney

  • In an attorney-assisted adoption, also called independent adoption, direct placement or private adoption, the adoptive parents and birth mother (or birth parents) each have their own attorney.  That way each party knows they have their own advocate in their corner who will put their interests first.
  • In an agency adoption, the birth parent(s) relinquish their parental rights to the agency, and the prospective adoptive parents work through the agency to adopt.  In a direct placement adoption, the birth parent consents directly to the adoptive parents and never relinquishes rights to an agency. 
  • In a direct placement adoption the baby is typically discharged from the hospital directly to the adoptive parents.  Temporary foster care may be required in an agency adoption.
  • Attorney-assisted adoptions often give greater flexibility to both adoptive parents and birth parents.  Agencies may give preference to certain types of individuals or couples (for example, based on religion, marital status, age or sexual orientation), or impose other requirements, such as whether the parties can meet face-to-face before the child is born.
  • Attorneys can evaluate how best to handle contested adoptions, if a contest should arise (such as when a birth father opposes an adoption and the birth mother wants it to go forward).

An experienced adoption attorney: 

  • Understands the complex laws that apply to adoption, and how they apply to the specifics of your case. 
  • Provides an unbiased explanation of adoption methods and resources and helps you develop a legally secure plan tailored to your needs.
  • Assesses any risks involved in your situation, such as whether the adoption might become contested, and helps you plan accordingly.
  • Is accustomed to dealing with the legal system and the courts.
  • Can help to resolve any problems that arise between the parties during the adoption process, and negotiate with the other party's attorney if necessary.