With private adoption, the risks tend to be more financial. An adoptive couple will be responsible for all financial costs leading up to the placement of a child, even if the birth mom changes her mind. With foster/adoption the risk tends to be more emotional. There is a higher risk that the placement may be disrupted prior to the child being legally free for adoption if relatives are found or birth parents comply with the state’s requirements. Many people are willing to take on this risk since they desire to have infants or toddlers join their family and want to minimize the number of placements their child has to go through.
The time it takes to finalize an adoption can be very similar when comparing private adoption and foster/adoption. What differs, typically, is where the child is located while you wait. For a private adoption, the wait can be 1-3 years before a child is placed in your home. Once a child is in your arms, the adoption is finalized in just a few short months. For foster/adoption, the child might be placed just a few months after you are licensed but then the wait to adoption finalization can be 1-3 years. Once the parental rights have been terminated and the child is legally free, the adoption is typically finalized in four to six months. Some adoptive parents choose to consider only legally free children so that the wait is shorter from start to finish.
In all adoptions, whether private or through the state, the basic requirements are the same. A family needs to be matched with children, a homestudy needs to be written, and an attorney needs to be hired. However, the person or entity responsible for paying these services is different with private vs. state adoptions. For foster/adoption, there are very few costs to parents. In fact, parents will be given incentives such as monthly stipends, health insurance for the kids, and tax credits. Even your legal fees can be reimbursed a few weeks after the adoption is finalized. If you choose to work through an agency, please be sure to ask upfront for their fees so that you are well educated prior to making any decisions. Most foster licensing agencies will not charge foster/adopt families for their services but a few do. For private adoption, it can cost anywhere from $6,000-$40,000, depending on many factors including agency fees, travel, birth parent costs, and others.
Most private adoptions occur with infants. The children who are adopted out of foster care are all ages, including infants. If the child is legally free, he is most likely older since it typically takes a few years for the state to run through the process of assessing the birth parent’s ability to parent and then terminating parental rights. Children who are already legally free are the kids you might see on www.nwae.org or www.adoptuskids.org. These kids are typically older, seem to have higher special needs, or are part of a larger sibling set because they have been in the state’s care for a longer period of time. This is most likely due to the increased difficulty in finding an adoptive family. Children who are not yet legally free cannot be listed on public websites. Many of the younger children end up in a foster/adopt home before they even become legally free. The benefit of foster/adoption is that you can typically take in younger children.