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Independent Adoptions

Independent adoption is an adoption completed without the help of a licensed social service agency. These adoptions are sometimes called private adoptions and are generally done with the help of a lawyer, doctor, clergyman, or other person not associated with a licensed adoption agency.

Although adoption agencies’ rigid requirements for prospective parents have begun to relax in recent years, a baby shortage is now producing long waits for couples wanting to adopt infants through agencies. Independent adoptions have become an attractive option for individuals seeking to adopt. The shortage of children, however, has also led many couples to consider “black market” adoptions, where a premium or finder’s fee is paid for a child.


There are specific fees that adoptive parents may pay for the birth mother’s expenses. Iowa Code § 600.9 Report of Expenditures describes these fees.

Protecting You and Your Child From Risk in Independent Adoptions
An independent adoption can be completed without risk, but to protect your welfare and that of your prospective child, you should be cautions as you go about a private adoption. Recent studies have pointed out risks that may be involved. These risks can affect the biological parents, the adoptive parents, or the child. However, by close adherence to the law and good placement procedures, these risks can be minimized and should be of no real concern in a well-considered independent adoption. Each adoptive situation can offer unique circumstances that you should discuss to you full satisfaction with your attorney.

The biological parents are at risk if they do not have the opportunity to receive professional counseling before and after their decisions to give up their child. Many biological mothers and fathers are young and unmarried, and a pregnancy can be a very complicated and stressful situation for them. Often they are not aware of the options available to them, or are they informed of the availability of professional counseling. This risk can be eliminated by proper contact and assessment of their commitment to release their child for adoption. Pre- and post-natal counseling for biological parents can assist in a good transition for them to future healthy relationships and to acceptance of their decision to ask you to raise their child.

Adoptive parents are at risk if they do not have appropriate and accurate information about the child’s background and counseling for themselves on the adjustments they must make to parenthood. Iowa law requires that a complete medical history and family background of the child be documented as part of the adoption process. This firm will arrange counseling and referrals for counseling when the adoptive parents need them. When issues arise that can be dealt with in counseling, this firm will arrange such counseling when the adoptive parents need it. Some issues that can be dealt with in counseling are the sharing of information and feelings about adoption, conflicts about infertility, the problems of adoptive parenthood, and the special needs of adopted children.

The child’s right to a secure, permanent home is not at risk if strict adherence to legal standards and ethical guidelines is maintained. This will be accomplished thought compliance with the provisions of the Iowa Code and through pre-placement and post-placement home studies done by certified home study investigators licensed by the Department of Human Services.

A well-considered independent adoption ought to eliminate all of the significant risks of the process. Each independent adoption must be handled in a way that is consistent with the highest legal, professional, and ethical standards to ensure its success.

The Client’s Role in Independent Adoption
Responsibilities for the Search. Clients are asked to assume primary responsibility for developing and working through their own search program. Diligent and consistent follow-up with definite or possible contacts has been shown to be the most critical factor to a successful early placement. You are looking to put yourself in the right place at the right time and make others feel obligated to help in your search.

During the search phase, your attorney’s role and his legal assistant’s role are secondary. It is clients who make initial contacts through phone calls, letters, and personal contact to let people know of their interest in adopting a child.

Implementing the Search. The search for an adoptable child is unique to each family interested in adoption. It is recommended that you begin by contacting close friends, relatives, acquaintances, clergy, physicians, and social service professionals. One can view the process as ever-widening circles of people with whom contact is initiated, refined, and expanded. These people can be classified into three groups: 1) close friends, family, your personal attorney, and you physician; 2) other friends and professional acquaintances; and 3) less familiar acquaintances and professional contacts.

The process focuses first on contacts made through the “core group” of close friends, family, personal attorney, and physician. Your first obligation is to let all of these people know of your interest in finding a child. These core individuals may provide you with the names of other individuals to contact in an ever-expanding search. Follow up on each contact you make. Any leads produced in your search will be immediately followed up by this office.

Steps in the Search Process.
1) Discuss with us your decision to adopt, your motivations, personal background, and the scope of your search activity. Basic information about yourselves can be organized either through the home study or by you writing a narrative about yourself.
2) Develop and implement a search program by (a) organizing a systematic list of contacts; (b) writing letters or make phone calls to all contacts; (c) following up on all your contacts by phone or letter; (d) continuing refining and expanding your list of contacts with consistent effort.
3) Register with appropriate and available adoption agencies in Iowa.
4) Complete a home study.

The Role of an Attorney in an Independent Adoption
The primary obligation of an attorney is to represent his or her client. In an independent adoption, the protection and advocacy of the client’s interests are the lawyer’s ethical focus. However, our firm also urges its clients to accept their personal and ethical responsibilities to the child and the biological parents.
Our firm will attempt to minimize any risks as well as answer your questions and assist your search. During the search phase, our firm will follow up on suitable leads and help you in any and every way to make this process efficient, productive, and relatively unstressful. Again, the success of this process hinges on your consistent initiation and continued effort to make contacts and produce leads. While children may become available through the independent efforts of our firm, we attempt to make a placement consistent with the birth parents’ requests.

Costs of an Independent Adoption
A couple planning an independent adoption should budget approximately $10,000, although costs can vary widely with each situation. Some placements can be accomplished at a lower cost depending on the circumstances. Generally, the adoptive parents pay for the uninsured medical costs of delivery and postnatal care of the biological mother and baby. The remainder of the budget will be needed for counseling, the birth parents’ investigations, legal fees and expenses, court costs, and other fees and expenses incident to the termination of parental rights and adoption. Be sure to check your medical insurance in advance to determine what medical costs might be covered for the child under your insurance policy.