Domestic Infant Adoption

Domestic Infant Adoption in the US

Domestic Infant Adoption

infant adoption

Domestic infant adoption, also known as baby adoption, domestic adoption, birth mother relinquishment adoption, and sometimes private adoption, is one way to adopt an infant in the US. 

It is possible to adopt a baby in the US using either an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. In most infant adoptions in the US, the expectant mother (or couple) chooses the adoptive parent or couple for her child. The vast majority of baby adoptions in the US are open.

What Are the Different Ways to Adopt a Baby in the US?
It is possible to adopt a newborn or young infant through private adoptions where the birth mother and birth father relinquish their parental rights voluntarily, and usually choose the adoptive parents that they want to raise their child.

It is also possible to adopt through the foster care system, but the majority of infants who are available for adoption are adopted by relatives or by their foster parents. International adoption is not a good option if you want to adopt a baby. The youngest children available through international adoption are usually around 2 years old, and most will have significant special needs or be part of a sibling group.

Check out this graphic resource, Quick Comparison Chart for the Different Types of Adoptions or listen to this 1 hr. podcast, How to Adopt in 2023.

How Many Infant Adoptions Take Place in the US?
The number of babies adopted each year in the US is always a challenging number to come by since infant adoption is governed by state law. There is no central place where the number of infant adoptions must be reported. The best estimate is approximately 19,000 babies were adopted in 2020 in the US.
How Much Does It Cost To Adopt a Baby in the US?
The cost of adoption varies greatly by type of adoption, whether the adoption is through an adoption agency or adoption attorney, how many services are provided by the adoption provider, whether the adoptive parents have to travel to the state where the baby is born, how many agencies the adoptive parents are working with, whether the adoptive parents are working with adjunct professionals, such as an adoption consultant, whether the expectant mom has health insurance, and other factors.

Given these variables, the average adoption cost from an adoption agency ranges from $25,000 – $60,000. Some adoption agencies have a sliding fee scale where adoption costs are based on your income. An independent adoption through an adoption attorney usually costs in the range of $35,000 to $50,000.

See the resource page, Cost of Adoption in the US, which breaks down the cost by type of adoption and analyzes factors that affect the cost.

How To Find an Expectant Women Who Might Be Considering Adoption
There is something inherently dehumanizing about using the word “advertising” when used in reference to finding an expectant woman who might be considering adoption. As an adoption education organization, we walk the line in trying to provide practical resources for prospective adoptive parents and undercutting the basic humanity of a woman in crisis. And make no mistake, a pregnant woman considering placing her child for adoption is a woman in crisis. We have tried to walk that line, even though the edge is razor-thin at points. We have utilized words trying to carefully balance what people will be using when they search the internet for information with the understanding that no one owes anyone else a child.

We suggest you read this blog that addresses how “advertising” for prospective birth mothers can turn them into a commodity. has many resources to help you find prospective birth mothers. These will get you started, but check out the many more resources at the icons at the bottom of this page.

What Is An Adoptive Parent Profile (or Dear Expectant Parent Letter) and How To Make One
An adoptive parent profile is a portfolio or “book” prepared by families that are looking to adopt an infant in the US. This profile is sometimes known as a “Dear Birthmother Letter”, although that is not preferred because a woman considering adoption is not a birthmom. She is an expectant mom considering adoption.

The profile contains basic information on the prospective parent(s), why they want to adopt, and pictures representing their life. These profiles are shown to expectant mothers or couples considering adoption and are the first step in choosing the family with whom they want to place their babies for adoption.

Adoptive parents often feel a lot of pressure to make the perfect profile book to be chosen. While there is no such thing as perfect, has many resources to help you prepare your adoptive parent profile and know what to include and leave out. These radio shows, fact sheets, blogs, videos, and expert Q & A’s can be found by clicking the icons at the bottom of this page. Here is a sample of what you will find:

What is Open Adoption?
Open adoption means some degree or type of contact or exchange of information between the adoptive families, adoptees, and birth families. The amount of openness is tailored to the needs and desires of the parties involved. The resource page, Open Adoption, has extensive resources to help adoptive and birth families navigate openness. has many additional resources on domestic infant adoption. A few recent ones we think you will find particularly helpful are:

Many more podcasts, articles, and fact sheets on domestic infant adoption can be found by clicking on the icons below.

Sources: podcasts with experts, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, National Council for Adoption 

Image credit: Papermoons

Additional Resources

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Creating a Family Podcasts on Infant Adoption

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Creating a Family Blogs on Infant Adoption

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Creating a Family Factsheets, Tips on Infant Adoption