Independent Adoption in California

There's more than one way to adopt. Many hopeful parents are curious about independent adoption — or adoption without an agency. While there are benefits to this route, there are also several drawbacks.

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Family Connections Christian Adoptions is one of many adoption agencies in California that help find loving homes for children across the globe. From start to finish, we can provide a wide range of valuable adoption services for all types of families throughout California — including your independent adoption.

Independent adoption is a way of adopting a child without an agency.

For some people, an independent adoption, or private infant adoption, without an agency is the perfect path. But there are some important things to know ahead of time. Keep reading for more information on how to find a baby to adopt without an agency in an independent adoption and the benefits and challenges that come with it.

If you want to learn more about the differences between an agency-assisted and private adoption process, you can always contact us today. And, if you are seeking out an Adoption Service Provider to help you complete your adoption, read on to learn more about our independent adoption process and services.

Independent Adoption [Pros and Cons of Adoption without an Agency]

In an independent adoption, the prospective birth parent makes a personal selection of the adoptive family and transfers legal and physical custody of the child directly to them with no agency involved. “Personal selection” means that the birth parent will receive certain identifying information about the adoptive parents, including their:

  • Full legal names
  • Ages
  • And more

Oftentimes in an independent adoption, the adoptive family has to coordinate each step of their adoption journey on their own. And when they find a pregnant parent interested in adoption, the adoptive family still needs to screen them to learn their medical background and commitment level — all of which could be taken care of by an adoption agency.

While independent adoption is often considered “adoption without an agency,” adoptive families still need several important professional services throughout the process.

But before you decide to seek a private adoption without an agency, we encourage you to research your options thoroughly. In the meantime, here is a brief rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of private independent adoption.

Benefits of an Independent Adoption

Independent adoption gives people the ability to choose their preferred method of adoption, bringing on professionals and services at their discretion. Other benefits include:

  • Lower cost (on average) due to fewer professionals involved in the process
  • More direct contact with the prospective birth mother
  • Wait time for finding an adoption opportunity may be lower in certain situations

Disadvantages of an Independent Adoption

Instead of the “one-stop shop” advantages of an agency, a private independent adoption requires you to take on additional responsibility to safely, legally and ethically bring a child into your home. Other disadvantages include:

  • No adoption professional coordinating the steps of the adoption process
  • No financial protection in case of an adoption disruption
  • No screening services before finding the match, increasing the risk of adoption fraud
  • Only third-party counseling and support available
  • Quickly increasing costs the longer it takes to find a match
  • No counseling for the challenging emotional aspects of adoption
  • No post-placement support for navigating the open adoption relationship

Fortunately, FCCA is an Adoption Service Provider that offers services and programs for independent adoptions in California, including Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and post-placement and finalization service.

Independent Adoption with FCCA

In an agency-assisted adoption, the agency often hires and coordinates with different professionals on behalf of the prospective birth or adoptive parents. But, because independent adoptions do not involve an agency, several other professionals must be independently employed, including:

  • A Counselor: Recommended for the prospective birth mother to have emotional support throughout the adoption process
  • A Home Study Provider: Required to conduct a home study for the adoptive family to make them legal to adopt
  • A Media Specialist: Recommended for the adoptive family to create their adoptive family profile and perhaps a video profile to show to prospective birth mothers (otherwise, families need to create adoption advertisements on their own)
  • An Adoption Attorney: Required to legally terminate parental rights of the prospective birth parents and to legally finalize the adoption

When put your faith in FCCA and work with us, we will provide you with all of these services through our adoption programs. As your Adoption Service Provider, we can provide only the following services:

1. Birth Parent Advisement

Our social worker will advise the placing parents of their legal rights and options per the requirements of California law. This advisement must happen at least 10 days before the signature of the Independent Adoption Placement Agreement (commonly called the “consent” to the adoption).

2. Witness the Consent

Our social worker will witness the signatures on the consent.

3. Approve ICPC for Interstate Adoptions

California law authorizes us to approve ICPC requests for children being sent from or coming into the state of California for the purpose of independent adoption. 

 If we have not served as the ASP, then we can provide the following services to the adoptive family:

1. Home Study Services

A California adoptive family is not required to have an approved home study or even cleared fingerprints before accepting an independent adoption placement of a California child. The law permits the adoptive family to obtain the home study and fingerprint clearances after the placement by applying to the local District Office of the Department of Social Services (or the local county adoption agency for residents of San Diego County, Los Angeles County or Alameda County).

But, many adoptive families prefer to obtain a pre-placement home study from a licensed private agency. This pre-approval gives extra reassurance to the placing parents that the adoptive home is a good home. It can also save the adoptive family a significant amount of money since private agency home studies are generally less expensive than state or county home studies.

2. Finalization Services

Whether you choose to obtain a home study before or after the independent adoption, in every case, a state or county worker will visit you and the child after placement. That worker will prepare and file a report to the court within 180 days of filing the adoption petition; by law, private agencies such as FCCA cannot perform this task. But, once the report has been filed with the court, we can assist you with finalizing the adoption.

You will receive a new birth certificate for the child anywhere from six to eighteen months after the finalization hearing.

3. Approve ICPC for Interstate Adoptions

The ICPC governs the transfer of children from one state to another for the purpose of adoption. Approval requires the filing of certain forms and supporting documentation, including:

  • The adoptive family’s approved home study
  • The child’s medical records
  • ICWA compliance forms
  • And others

We assist many families and agencies across the U.S. with ICPC packet preparations, and are authorized by California law to approve ICPC placements for children being sent from or coming into the state of California for the purpose of adoption.

Considerations for Families Pursuing Independent Adoption

Although independent adoption and private infant adoption through an agency share several similarities, the processes do differ in several key ways. Before deciding whether to pursue agency or independent infant adoption, consider the following:

  • Independent adoptions must be open. In California, birth parents and adoptive parents in an independent adoption must exchange personally identifying information, including full names, and even full addresses upon request. In agency adoption, you may have an open, semi-open or closed adoption, depending on the expectant mother’s wishes.
  • You will not receive the same pre-adoption education. Families who adopt independently generally do not receive the same in-depth adoption education and preparation as families who work through an adoption agency.
  • Independent adoption costs may be lower. This can vary depending on your situation. Relative adoptions are almost always less expensive if completed as independent adoption. Be sure to make a complete comparison of all costs, and of the benefits that come with each type of service. Cheaper is not always better.
  • Independent adoption has a longer revocation period unless the birth mother signs a Waiver of the Right to Revoke. In an agency adoption, the relinquishment becomes final when the Department issues a written acknowledgment or 10 days after signing, whichever occurs first. In independent adoption, the consent becomes final 30 days after signing. In either case, the birth mother may choose to sign a Waiver of the Right to Revoke, in which case her consent or relinquishment becomes irrevocable at the close of the next business day.

Many factors must be considered when deciding between agency and independent adoption in California, so choose what is best for your family’s circumstances and needs.

To learn more about our agency and independent adoption services, please contact us to schedule a free consultation, or attend one of our free, monthly adoption information sessions.