There are two types of adoption: agency adoption and private placement adoption. In an agency adoption, children are generally in foster care and are placed by a state or local government agency. The agencies conduct investigations of potential parents and decide whether placement is in the child’s best interests. These parents, if approved, can then complete the adoption process in court.
Conversely, in a private placement adoption, a child is not in foster care. The state’s Office of Children and Family Services does not oversee these adoptions, except for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
All 50 states, Washington, DC, and the Virgin Islands are parties to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, which has procedures for the interstate placement of children. The states where the children came from and going must approve the child’s movement.
During the vetting process, background checks and criminal history checks are important, and agencies check the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. They also may check for reports of child abuse and neglect in other states. The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs must also provide clearance. However, Agencies cannot consider certain information. This includes the parents’ religion, race, fertility, gender preference, martial status, employment, income, volunteer activities and education.
An attorney can advise prospective families on undergoing agency and open adoption. They can help assure that their rights are protected.