Adoption is the legal process of transferring parental rights of a child to an individual or couple that is not biologically related to the child. However, there are kinship and surrogacy adoptions, in which one of the adoptive parents may be genetically related to the adoptee.
The process of adoption can be done domestically, in the U.S., or internationally from another country.
Domestic adoptions can be facilitated by a public or private agency as well as an attorney or facilitator. In the U.S., it's possible to be placed with an infant through negotiations with a pregnant women who does not intend to raise the child after birth. It's also possible to adopt older children from the U.S. foster care system, in which 100,000 children are waiting to be placed in adoptive homes.
Finding the right adoption option depends on the adopter's lifestyle and, for infant adoptions, the kind of adoptive parents a future birth mother envisions for the child. There is no such thing as an ideal adoptive family, although there are traditional and nontraditional adopters. Traditional adopters are young heterosexual married couples. Nontraditional adopters may be older, single, gay or lesbian, or disabled, among other things that make it more difficult to place a child with them.
Placing a child in an adoptive family requires an adopter to pass a home study, which is the most important step in the adoption process. A case worker comes to adopters' homes to see the environment a child will be raised in as well as interview the adopters about their motives for adoption, among other things.
Adoption fees range from being nearly free to over $40,000. The federal and state governments sometimes offer subsidies to help adopters finance their adoption.