Independent Adoption Explained

Picture of a family with their adopted daughter.

Adoption can be a wonderful way for military parents to start or grow a family. One adoption process to consider is an independent adoption, in which the birth family and the prospective family arrange the adoption without using a public agency. In the United States, this type of adoption is also called a private, nonagency or independent domestic adoption.

Would-be parents often pursue an independent adoption through an intermediary, such as a doctor or lawyer. Lawyers who specialize in independent adoptions may help find a child and provide required services. You can also use your own resources and networking skills to adopt independently.

Greater involvement


a Military OneSource adoption specialty consultant for free to learn more.

Independent adoption gives you the flexibility to:

  • Advertise in newspapers or magazines.
  • Scan newspapers for ads from birth mothers.
  • Talk with parent groups to find out how others adopted.
  • Pass out printed calling cards to acquaintances.
  • Actively pursue promising leads.
  • Make initial contact with the birth mother, and learn more about her.

Challenges to consider


about how Department of Defense's Adoption Benefits and Allowances for Service Members helps cover adoption expenses.

Independent adoptions have some challenges you should consider:

  • Expenses — The regulation of expenses varies from state to state. Expenses are unpredictable and can't be recovered if a birth family decides to keep their baby.
  • Advertising restrictions — Some states may restrict you from advertising for a birth family.
  • Legality — It's illegal to adopt independently in four states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and North Dakota.
  • Emotional preparation — Both families could be emotionally unprepared for the adoption process unless arrangements are made for counseling and support.

Adoption offers many paths for bringing your child home. To learn more about adoption options, check out the Military OneSource articles about agency, identified, international and open adoptions.


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