Adoption is the legal process during which the parental rights to a child are transferred from the child's birth parents to the child's adoptive parents. Once the adoption is finalized, the adopted child becomes a permanent member of the adoptive family.

Persons seeking to become adoptive parents may pursue an adoption through several avenues, including an agency adoption, independent adoption or intracountry adoption. In an agency adoption, the prospective adoptive parents will work with a public or private adoption agency to secure the adoption of a child. In an independent adoption, the birth parents will choose the prospective adoptive parents. In an intercountry adoption, the prospective adoptive parents will adopt a child from a foreign country.

State laws largely govern adoptions in the United States. Based on the Uniform Adoption Act, these laws set forth the requirements for creating a legal parent-child relationship among persons who are not biologically related. For instance, the law includes provisions for preplacement evaluations of adoptive parents, confidentiality of adoption records, the types of information that must be disclosed and more.

For international adooptions, federal immigration law also applies. Prospective parents should be aware of the requirements that must be met to obtain a visa for their adoptive child.