What is the difference between an agency adoptions and an independent adoption?

In California, a prospective birth mother has two options when making an adoption plan: agency or independent adoption.

In an independent adoption, you will personally select the adoptive family and transfer legal and physical custody directly to them, completing the adoption without an agency. This means that you will receive identifying information about the adoptive parents and your adoption will be at least semi-open.

In an agency adoption, you may choose to select the adoptive family or not, and you may choose an open or closed adoption. FCCA will place your baby with the adoptive family you choose.

There are several important differences between these two primary types of adoption. Which one is best? The one that best suits your needs!

To help you figure out which type of adoption is best for you, here are some basic differences between them:

Agency Adoption

Independent Adoption

Legal Advice: You must be advised of your legal rights at least one calendar day prior to signing the final adoption paperwork.

Legal Advice: You must be advised of your legal rights at least ten calendar days prior to signing the final adoption paperwork.

Selection of a Family: You decide whether to select an adoptive family, or whether you want FCCA to select an adoptive family for you.

Selection of a Family: You are legally required to personally select the adoptive family, either in person or by receiving certain identifying information about them through a third party (like FCCA).

Counseling and Legal Services: You may ask for counseling or legal representation, and the adoptive parents may agree to pay for this. As a practical matter, such services are routinely granted upon request without any cost limitations.

Counseling and Legal Services: The adoptive parents are required by law to pay up to $500 for your legal representation, and pay for up to three private counseling sessions. As a practical matter, such services are routinely provided upon request without any cost limitations.

Open Adoption: You may select an open or closed adoption. You do not need to disclose your name, meet the adoptive parents or learn their names if you do not wish to do so. Alternatively, you may meet the adoptive parents and include them in your medical appointments. Open adoptions can include any combination of pictures, letters or visits to which both parties consent. Any open adoption agreement is legally enforceable if it is filed with the court at the time of finalization.

Open Adoption: Your adoption must be open to the extent that you and the adoptive parents are legally required to exchange personally identifying information, including both parties’ full legal names. You may choose to meet the adoptive parents and include them in your medical appointments, or not. Open adoptions can include any combination of pictures, letters, or visits to which both sides consent. Any open adoption agreement is legally enforceable if it is filed with the court at the time of finalization.

Revocation of Consent: Your relinquishment becomes final (irrevocable) on the date that the Department issues a written Acknowledgment, OR 10 days after signing, whichever happens first. There are two exceptions. First, if you request that the relinquishment be “held” (not filed) for a specific period of time, then it won’t become final until that time has expired and the Department has issued an Acknowledgment. Second, you can choose to sign a Waiver of the Right to Revoke, in which case the relinquishment is final either immediately (if signed in front of a judge) or the next business day (if signed in front of a social worker).

You consent becomes final (irrevocable) 30 days after signing. There is one exception: you may sign a Waiver of the Right to Revoke, in which case it is final either immediately (if signed in front of a judge) or the next business day (if signed in front of a social worker).

Home Study Requirements: The adoptive family must be fingerprinted and formally pre-approved as adoptive parents or as private foster parents prior to accepting physical custody of your baby. Before approving a family for adoption, the adoption agency completes a very thorough background investigation of the adoptive family, and usually requires some pre-adoption education.

Home Study Requirements: The adoptive family does not need to be fingerprinted or pre-approved by anyone before accepting physical custody of your baby. The state or county social worker who investigates the family will complete a very basic background check, and no pre-adoption education is provided or required. 

Post-Placement Requirements: After your child is placed with the adoptive family, the adoption agency will complete four post-placement visits to make sure that your baby is doing well. With very few exceptions, the family cannot finalize the adoption until the fourth visit and a medical report have been completed.

Post-Placement Requirements: After your child is placed with the adoptive family, a state or county social worker will only visit the child once in the family’s home before approving the finalization of the adoption.

 

Whether you choose agency or independent adoption in California, FCCA can provide many of the important services you and the adoptive parents will need throughout the process. In every independent adoption (except for relatives or guardians), an Adoption Service Provider (ASP) is required to provide counseling and legal advice to the birth parents and to witness their consent to the adoption. FCCA is a licensed ASP that can provide these and other important independent adoption services.

If you would like more information about FCCA’s agency and independent adoption services for expectant mothers, please call 844-77-ADOPT to speak with an adoption social worker. Your call is confidential and does not obligate you to proceed with an adoption plan.