top of page

The Four Types of Adoption Sources

Updated: Dec 14, 2023


Finding an adoptee who meets the potential adopter’s expectations can be a difficult process.

There are four types of adoption sources, each having different requirements and different types of children. These four sources of adoption include:

Public adoption agencies

These agencies receive funding from tax dollars. They are likely to have more “special needs” and “waiting children” than newborns and infants. There usually is no charge (or a minimal fee) for their services; they sometimes also subsidize certain adoptions.

Private adoption agencies

These adoption sources receive licensing from the states where they are operated and are usually sponsored by charitable or religious organizations. Private adoption agencies are a more common source of newborns and infants, although some such agencies do specialize in other types of adoptive children. They generally base their fees upon a sliding scale (ability to pay), which cover the operating expenses of the agency. Some private agencies specialize in foreign adoptions.

Non-agency adoptions

The terminology for this form of adoption is “independent” or “private.” Non-agency adoptions are usually arranged through a doctor, attorney or religious

leader who is aware of a pregnant woman who chooses not to keep her child but does not wish to use an agency. In these cases, the adopters generally pay for the pregnant mother’s care and all legal fees related to the adoption. This form of adoption may hold the risk of something going wrong before the arrangement is completed. Conversely, it can be a faster procedure (with less “red tape”) than an agency adoption. If the legal fees are reasonable and there is no payment for the child itself, most states allow privately arranged adoptions. Some foreign adoptions can be arranged privately, but caution is advised.

Black market adoptions

This approach is a form of independent adoption that violates the law. The fees are usually high and often involve the illegal buying and selling of children. In addition to the financial and ethical aspects, there is a serious risk that something may go wrong. For example, a mother that believes she was forced or defrauded into giving up her baby may later seek to cancel the arrangement. Furthermore, the adopters may have to falsify information in order to secure an adoption decree. These problems can lead to increased costs, legal difficulties and loss of the child. Although some adopters (desperate for a child and unable to find one from another source) do resort to this source, such an approach to adoption is


43 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Denis Mercier
Denis Mercier
Oct 14, 2023

I can think of no one else as knowledgeable and dedicated to understanding and remediating the foster child crisis. The man knows whereof he speaks. He has lived it. Or at least most of it. He has made it his life's work, thanks to the William F. Gladden Foundation.

Denis Mercier, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies

Rowan University

Glassboro, New Jersey

bottom of page