For Oregonions interested in adoption, there are a variety of different options to consider. The process can be done through a private agency or the Oregon Department of Human Services. Adoption can also be done independently, without involving an adoption agency or the DHS. With an independent adoption, the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) find each other through a source other than an adoption agency.
Although independent adoptions can require more work on the part of the adoptive parents (since there is no agency managing and overseeing the process), it can be a faster, less costly process. In some cases, it also allows the birth and adoptive parents to develop a personal relationship, which can provide some comfort and security to all involved.
If you choose to pursue an independent adoption, an experienced adoption attorney can help you complete the adoption process and ensure that everything is done properly.
Under Oregon law, a single person or two people, whether a married couple or not, may adopt. In an independent adoption, the child is placed with adoptive parents directly by the birthparent. One type of independent adoption is when the adoptive parent independently finds a pregnant mother through advertising or networking, and then completes the adoption process with the assistance of an attorney or an adoption agency. When seeking to adopt, it is important to understand that paid adoption “facilitators” are illegal in Oregon.
Another form of independent adoption is when a family member or friend adopts a child because the parents are unable to care for the child. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and close family members often adopt children this way. This type of independent adoption can cost much less. When both parents agree to the adoption the average cost to adopt a single child is $5000, including filing fees, legal fees, and incidental expenses. A home study will still be required and will be an additional expense.
Step-parent adoption is also a type of independent adoption. It covers all adoptions where one parent remains on the birth certificate while another person is added to or replaces the other parent on the child’s birth certificate. The average cost for step-parent adoption is $5,000, so long as there is only one child and the other parent agrees to the adoption. The cost includes filing fees, legal fees, and incidental expenses. This type of adoption rarely involves a home study, but if a home study is required, that will be an additional expense as well.
Independent adoptions often happen much more quickly than going through the waiting lists and wait times often associated with agency adoptions. Unlike with agency adoptions, adoptive parents and birth parents are free to meet with each other to talk about the prospective adoption. In addition, adoptions with direct access to birth parents can be much less expensive than going through an agency.
One of the disadvantages of independent adoption can be the lack of counseling during the adoption process. Birth parents have the right to adoption-related counseling at no expense, and while private adoption agencies exist to provide counseling to adoptive parents and birth parents, with an independent adoption, such services are not as readily available.
For adoptive parents, the costs of an independent adoption could include the mother’s prenatal care and for the legal documents that need to be drawn up. In some cases, an attorney may be required for the birth parents and it is customary that the adoptive parents pay this cost. In order for an independent adoption to be finalized by the court, adoptive parents may be required to provide an itemized account of all money given or paid on behalf of the birth mother, so be sure to keep track of all money spent.
In addition to preparing and filing the adoption petition and other required documentation, an experienced adoption attorney can help you work through potential issues such as the level of openness in the adoption and whether to have an open adoption agreement; finances of the adoption (while it is legal to pay certain expenses for the birth mother, it is illegal to buy a child); obtaining medical and genetic information; and arranging the home study. Adoptive parents should consider having a pre-placement home study done by an adoption agency licensed to provide independent adoption home studies.
After the birth parents and adoptive parents have agreed to the adoption and the baby has been born (if that is the case), the mother will sign a consent to adoption and certificate of irrevocability. In some cases, if the child was already living, both parents may be required to sign a consent to adoption and certificate of irrevocability. This process often involves an attorney for the birth mother and father that the adoptive parents will pay for. At that point, the attorney for the adoptive parents will prepare and file the adoption petition as soon as possible.
Once the petition and any required home studies are filed in court, the medical and genetic information provided, the judge signs an order granting the adoptive parents temporary guardianship of the child, and the child is placed, the consent to adoption becomes irrevocable. A post-placement report will then be submitted to the court, along with the “general judgment of adoption,” which, when signed by the judge, will finalize the adoption.