Identified adoptions are also called designated adoptions. Identified adoptions combine elements of both independent adoptions and agency adoptions. In an identified adoption, the birth and adoptive families find each other, but an agency is used for the process.
A Hybrid Approach
Identified adoptions can be a great hybrid between independent and agency adoptions. Adoptive parents and birth parents can bypass long waitlists but still benefit from counseling and other agency services.
When Is an Identified Adoption Used?
Families may choose this option when they have already found prospective birth or adoptive parents but do not want to do a traditional private adoption. Some states do not allow independent adoptions, but designated adoptions may be permitted in those states. Both private and designated adoptions allow the birth parent(s) to choose the adoptive parent(s), but designated adoptions have the added oversight of the agency.
Advantages of Identified Adoptions
Having an agency handle most of the adoption allows the parties to have the safeguards that an agency adoption offers while empowering the birth parent(s) to choose the adoptive family for their child. The specific processes that the agency employs will differ by state and by agency, but there are many commonalities. Generally, agencies will do home studies, background checks, and other adoptive parent screening. Agencies also provide counseling to birth parents before and after the placement and may also offer ongoing support for adoptive parents. Another function that agencies may provide is to connect birth and adoptive parents with other people who have been through the process and can offer firsthand support.
Identified adoptions are a good option for birth parents who already know whom they want to adopt their child, but who want the security that agencies provide. It is also as close to an independent adoption as some states will allow. For both sets of parents, the agency has experience and knowledge that can help make the process run more smoothly and easily. An identified adoption is also a good choice for people who plan on having an open adoption.
How Do Parties Find Each Other?
One of the defining features of identified adoptions is that the birth and adoptive parents find each other outside an agency or other intermediary. There are many ways that the parties may find each other. A common way is that the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) already know each other. This can be through a family relationship, a friendship, or any other kind of acquaintanceship. Some states allow adoptive parents who are looking for an identified adoption to engage in some limited advertising. However, states are very nervous about people engaging in illegal “baby selling,” and the advertising laws reflect this caution. Thus, it is important to consult an adoption attorney or to look at state laws to make sure that you comply.
Always check your state’s adoption laws before considering internet match services.
The internet opens up a whole new world of potential match making between birth and adoptive parents, but parties should be extremely cautious. There are many stories of people on both sides of the equation being scammed. While agency involvement may help to provide additional safeguards, finding birth or adoptive parents over the internet may be illegal in your state and is generally considered a bad idea by experts.
Sometimes adoption attorneys will keep a list of prospective adoptive families whom birth parents can use. This is covered in the facilitated adoption section.
Selecting an Agency
Once the adoptive and birth parent(s) have found each other, the next step is to find an agency to handle the adoption. Depending on your location, you may have many agencies from which to choose, or there may only be one nearby option. If you can choose, the internet can help you to find an adoption agency that has a good reputation and works well for your situation. For example, if you are doing an open adoption, you will want an agency that has experience with these kinds of adoptions. (However, open adoptions are much more common these days, so that may not be difficult as it once was.) Other kinds of adoption in which certain agencies may have expertise include kinship adoptions, transracial adoptions, and adoptions by LGBTQ+ parents. Meanwhile, religious families may prefer an adoption agency that is affiliated with a church or religion.
Potential Downsides of Identified Adoptions
The biggest downside of an identified adoption is that the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) need to already have found each other. People in states that do not allow independent adoptions may be frustrated by needing to have the agency involved in an identified adoption. Identified adoptions also do not have the benefit of the agency’s expertise in “match making,” and the desires of birth and adoptive families may diverge, which could jeopardize the adoption.