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How to find adoptive parents: Complete guide

How to find adoptive parents: Complete guide

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If you are considering putting a child up for adoption, you will probably have a lot of questions going through your mind. Many expectant mothers find the prospect of looking into adoption quite overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start.

Expectant mothers who are considering placing their child for adoption often find it helpful to have an overview of the whole adoption process before making any decisions. Gathering information in this way helps you to feel reassured that you have made the right decision for you and your child, whatever this may be.

To help you understand what may lie ahead should you decide that adoption is the right option for you and your baby, we've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to how to find adoptive parents for your baby:

  1. Gather information

  2. Plan your ideal adoption scenario

              a)  Creating an adoption plan

              b)  Open vs closed adoption

              c)  Personal preferences

              d) Level of contact

   3. How to find adoptive parents for your baby

              a) Personal connections

              b) Online

              c ) Adoption agency

   4. Get to know the potential adoptive family

   5. Create your hospital plan

   6. Complete the legal steps for adoption

   7. After the adoption


Step 1: Gather information


Placing a baby for adoption is never an easy decision to make, and it is important that you have the opportunity to discuss all the available options with people who can help you. You may seek the support of adoption professionals who can provide expert advice about the practical aspects of adoption, as well as counselors and support workers, who can help you to navigate the complex emotions that will undoubtedly arise during this tricky time.

The most important thing to remember is that making inquiries about how to find adoptive parents does not mean you are committing to this course of action for you and your baby. After some research, you might decide that adoption is the right option for you, or not - this is all part of the decision-making process. This first stage is your opportunity to understand what adoption means for you and your baby, helping you to make an informed choice only when the time is right.

We understand that birth mothers who place their baby for adoption are more likely to feel at peace with their decision when it is fully informed and truly theirs, rather than a result of external pressure or opinions. Seeking advice without judgment is the starting point on a journey that will result in you making an informed choice that is right for both you and your child.

If you are considering placing your baby for adoption, or struggling to make a decision, the following sources of information may be of help:

  • Adoption attorney

An adoption attorney is a specialist lawyer who guides expectant parents and potential adoptive families through the adoption process. Nearly all adoptions require the services of an adoption attorney for legal purposes, but they can also provide support in areas such as negotiating the terms of the adoption and arranging financial reimbursement. If you are working with an adoption agency, they may be able to connect you with a reputable adoption attorney in your local area.

  • Family and friends

If you have a family member or close friend with whom you feel you can discuss this, their perspective could be helpful. They may be able to offer insights that you haven't yet considered. Choose people who are non-judgmental and supportive, and if you feel that you are being pressured into making a decision you are not comfortable with, seek advice elsewhere. Ultimately, while others may express strong opinions, you must make a decision that is right for you and your child.

  • Adoption agency

A reputable licensed adoption agency will talk through all the available options for you and your baby, and support you through the process, no matter what decision you make. They will provide access to support from qualified professionals and help you connect with potential adoptive families if this is the route you decide to take.

  • Adoption-competent therapist

An adoption-competent therapist will provide a non-judgmental and supportive environment for you to work through your thoughts and feelings when considering placing a child for adoption. Adoption can give rise to some complicated feelings, such as grief and loss, and adoption-competent therapists undergo specialist training to help you to process these feelings.

  • Support groups

Support groups, whether face-to-face or online, are a good way for expectant mothers to connect with others in the same situation. You may also find it helpful to speak to adoptive and birth parents about their experiences, or even meet with adults who were adopted as a child. Any of the adoption support specialists listed above should be able to direct you to relevant support groups in your area.


Step 2: Plan your ideal adoption scenario


If you feel that adoption could potentially be the best option for you and your baby, the next stage is to work with your chosen adoption support specialist to plan your ideal adoption scenario. This means deciding key aspects such as the type of adoption, your level of contact with both the prospective adoptive family and your child, and how you will select potential adoptive parents.

a) Creating an adoption plan

You will create your adoption plan with the professional of your choice. In the initial stages, your adoption plan will outline your wishes for you and your unborn baby. By mapping out your thoughts in this way, you can create an image of how you envisage your child's future unfolding, and how much you wish to be involved.

Your adoption plan will be constantly referred to and updated throughout the adoption process, and it absolutely fine, and very common, for this plan to be adapted and reworked during the process. This is your roadmap through your adoption experience and is there to help and guide you along the way.

b) Open vs closed adoption

One of the first decisions you will need to make is whether you want an open or closed adoption. In an open adoption, you can choose and meet with the potential adoptive parents before the birth if you wish, as well as maintain contact with the child once the adoption is finalized. In contrast, closed adoptions share very little information between the birth and adoptive parents, and no direct contact will take place, either during or after the adoption is finalised.

The type of adoption you choose will also affect who assists you with the practical and legal aspects of the adoption. Closed adoptions require the support of a licensed adoption agency to match the child with a suitable potential adoptive family. Open adoptions can also take place through an adoption agency, or you may prefer to liaise with a reputable adoption attorney.

Open adoptions are by far the most common choice made by expectant mothers, and the long-term contact between the adopted child and their birth parents has been shown to be mutually beneficial. The level of contact is mutually agreed between all parties beforehand and may include letters, photographs, telephone calls, and face-to-face contact.

Some expectant mothers still choose a closed adoption for personal reasons, but this decision does not necessarily need to be final. Some adoption agencies only place children into families who agree to an open adoption, so expectant mothers can go from a closed to open adoption if their feelings and situation change post-adoption.


c) Personal preferences

Whatever type of adoption you choose, it is a good idea to consider what the ideal family scenario would be for your child. This information is invaluable during the selection process for potential adoptive families and can give you peace of mind that you've made the best possible choice for your child.

Of course, you may not have any strong preferences, which is absolutely fine. You may read through a few profiles and find a family that seems a perfect fit, even if you have nothing in common.

Here are some personal and practical attributes you might want to think about:

  • Size of family

Families come in all shapes and sizes - do you envisage your child growing up surrounded by siblings and a large extended family, or being nurtured in a small family unit?

  • Cultural and ethnic background

While it may not be a primary consideration, it may be that finding a potential adoptive family from a similar ethnic or cultural background to your child could be beneficial, as they grow up and want to learn more about their identity and heritage.

  • Values & beliefs

Are there any personal values or beliefs that are particularly important to you? It can be reassuring to know that your child will be raised will be raised in an environment where similar values and beliefs are upheld.

  • Hobbies & activities

How a family spends their leisure time is hugely important, and you may wish to connect with potential adoptive families who share common interests. This is particularly helpful if you are pursuing an open adoption, as it gives you a way to connect with the child and their adoptive family through shared hobbies.

d) Level of contact

As part of your adoption plan, you will need to think about the level of contact you wish to have with the potential adoptive family and your child at all stages of the adoption process. It is important to find a level of contact which suits all parties, and is in the best interests of the child. You may also feel differently further down the line and wish to increase or decrease the level of contact - this is completely normal and can be incorporated into your adoption plan.

Before the birth

It is important to think about how much contact with the potential adoptive family you would be comfortable with during your pregnancy. Some expectant mothers find it beneficial to send regular updates, while others prefer to keep contact to a minimum.

Your adoption professional will work closely with you to ensure that you never feel pressured into agreeing to more contact than you feel comfortable with - this is your pregnancy journey and your wishes must be respected at all times.


During the birth

Again, as the expectant mother, it is your right to decide who should be present during the birth. This is a very personal experience and, as a parent considering adoption, it is natural to feel apprehensive about the whole process. You may decide it best not to inform the potential adoptive parents until after the birth, or opt to inform them earlier so they can come to the hospital - again, this is entirely your choice.

After adoption takes place

You and the potential adoptive family must be on the same page about the level of contact that will take place after the adoption is finalized. This will form an open adoption agreement, which can either be an informal verbal arrangement or a legally binding document.


Step 3: How to find adoptive parents for your baby


Once you have had the opportunity to consider all of the important aspects of the adoption process, you will hopefully have an idea as to whether or not adoption is right for you and your child. If so, it is important to understand how you may go about finding prospective adoptive parents for your baby.

a) Personal connections

If you are close to friends or family, it may be that they know of a couple or individual who is hoping to adopt. may know of a potential adoptive family for your child. You may even decide on a kinship adoption, where a family member adopts your baby. In this scenario, you may be able to complete the whole process with the assistance of an adoption attorney, although in some states, it is mandatory for expectant mothers to access the support of a licensed adoption agency.


b) Online


There are many websites or personal ads online where you may be able to find a family you feel would be suitable to adopt your child. This is a viable option, although you will still need the services of an adoption professional to carry out the relevant background checks.

c) Adoption agency

A licensed adoption agency can introduce you to potential adoptive families who have undergone background checks and are ready to adopt. Look for an agency that helps with the selection process, drawing up a shortlist of waiting families based on your preferences and adoption plan. Many adoption agencies can also offer additional services, such as couseling and assistance in obtaining adoption expenses.

Step 4: Get to know the potential adoptive family

In an open adoption, you'll have the opportunity to get to know the potential adoptive family if you wish. The level of contact at this stage is entirely up to you - you may be happy with a telephone or video call, or you may prefer to meet in-person. There is no pressure to make any decisions within a certain number of meetings - you are in control of who you meet, how you meet, and when you make any decisions. Your adoption support worker can help organize a call or meeting if you feel nervous about making this initial contact.

One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of placing a child for adoption can be the first contact with your chosen potential adoptive family. However, often, expectant mothers feel reassured after meeting their chosen family. Sometimes, nerves can be settled after only one meeting, particularly if you find that you have things in common with the family, and you get along well. Remember that this is also the potential adoptive parents’ opportunity to get to know you, helping them learn about your values and culture.

Remember, too, that any prospective adoptive parents may also feel nervous, as they will be keen to show you that they are capable of providing a loving, supportive environment for your child. Nerves on both sides are very normal, but can be easily overcome.

If you are not 100% sure that you've found the right fit, it is absolutely OK to meet with more than one potential adoptive family. Don't feel that you have to commit at the first meeting either - this is not a decision to be rushed into.

Step 5: Create your hospital plan

Once you've decided on a potential adoptive family for your baby, the next stage is to finalize the details of your hospital plan. This determines everything that happens during and immediately after the birth, including:

  • Your birthing plan

  • Who will be present at the birth

  • When the potential adoptive parents will be informed

  • Who will feed and change the baby

  • When and where the potential adoptive parents will meet the baby

As with any aspect of your adoption plan, you have the right to change your mind at any stage. For example, you may have decided to be present when the potential adoptive parents meet the baby, but after the birth feel that it would be better to have the baby taken to another room when the first meeting occurs.

Adoption and birth are hugely emotional experiences, and while it is important to make a plan, it is equally important that you feel under no pressure to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Adoption professionals/representatives will support and advise at every step.

Step 6: Complete the legal steps for adoption

After the baby is born, it is normal to revisit your decision to place your baby for adoption. Remember that nothing is set in stone - taking a moment to check in with yourself to make sure this still feels like the right option for you and your baby is crucial at this stage. It is essential that you feel fully committed to whatever decision you make, and your adoption team should support you no matter the outcome.

Once you feel confident in your decision to place your baby for adoption, the next steps will occur as outlined in your adoption plan. This will vary according to hospital regulations and state laws. In some states, it is common practice for the baby to leave the hospital with the adoptive parents once medically discharged, and you may need to sign the adoption consent form at this point. In other states, you cannot relinquish your parental rights until you have been discharged from the hospital. All information will be provided to you well in advance of your hospital visit, so there will be no surprises.

Step 7: After the adoption

So, you've given birth and signed the relevant paperwork to place your child for adoption with your chosen family - but what happens next?

It is entirely natural to experience a whole host of emotions at this time, and it is vital that you are able to access the support of experienced professionals to help you process your feelings. Even when you are confident in your decision, placing a child for adoption can be a source of grief and loss, and post-placement support can be invaluable as part of the healing process. Then, when the time feels right, you can start to initiate contact with the adoptive family as previously agreed. Remember, if you need to revisit the adoption plan, it is still possible to do so.

Choosing to place your baby for adoption is one of the hardest things an expectant mother can do, and it is essential to access support and guidance along the way. We hope that by understanding every stage of the adoption process, you now feel better equipped to make an informed choice that is right for both you and your child.

If you found this article useful, you might also find this useful: Information for expectant mothers


  • If you are pregnant and wondering whether adoption could be the right option for you and your baby, you can contact us any time on (800)-969-6665 or by filling out this form.


  • Adopt International is a non-profit organization. We provide extensive support and assistance to expectant mothers who are considering adoption for their child. Learn more here.


  • If you are a family who is considering adopting a child, learn more here.

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If you are pregnant and considering placing your baby for adoption, you deserve to have a respectful and positive experience.


We can help every step of the way.

Our adoption counselors can:

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Help decide if adoption is right for you


Advise you of your rights, and connect you to resources


Help you choose an adoptive family


Assist you with obtaining adoption expenses


Help you learn more about open adoption

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Support you before and after the birth of your baby

You are in control, and can choose what your adoption plan will be.

About us

At Adopt International, we believe it is important that you make this decision on your own terms and surround yourself with helpful, supportive professionals.

We have over 40 years of experience working with pregnant women, which has taught us that in order to have a successful adoption it is imperative that a birth mother is comfortable and confident in the choice she makes.

We are advocates for open adoption. Research shows it is the best kind of adoption plan for birth families, adoptive families, and adoptees.

Words from birth mothers


“I want to thank Adopt International for all they have done for me and my daughter and her family.


They truly know the meaning of open adoption and making it work for us all.”

- Monica

“From the second I walked in the door I felt like I was in a very warm and supportive environment.”

- Bethany

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“You didn’t pressure me into anything.

You held my hand all the way through the process and made sure I knew everything about placing my child for adoption.

I am forever grateful for your agency.”

- Birth mother

“Well, I chose Adopt International because the awesome family I chose to be my birth daughter’s adoptive parents were already working with y’all, and when I met with y’all myself, you were so pro birth parent, understanding, and down to Earth in a situation that was straight up madness.

I have love, love, loved being in contact with y’all over time and seeing that you really do care, just like you showed me over a decade ago!”

- Myra

  • How do I make this decision?
    We’ll help you think of all your options, and the pros and cons of each of them. We are always here to listen and sort through your emotions so you are comfortable with the choice you make in the end. Adopt can also give you referrals to other programs, counselors, and connect you to other birth moms or parenting resources.
  • What is open adoption?
    Open adoption is when you choose the family who will parent your child, and you have the option to stay in touch with that family. Often times in open adoption you will exchange pictures, letters, and have visits with the family and your child. If you are interested we can share lots of research with you about how this is best for everyone involved, but ultimately you get to make the decision that feels most comfortable to you.
  • How do I pick a family?
    Families make picture books about themselves for you to start to get to know them. After you look at the books and have chosen a family you can, if you want to, meet them face to face. If you don’t like the first family you meet it’s perfectly alright to keep looking until you find the best family for you and your baby.
  • I don’t live in Hawaii or California, is that okay?
    Yes, we are available 24/7 no matter where you are living. We can work with you to pick one of our waiting families, who are in California and Hawaii, or work with an agency in another state in order to make sure you have the best family and adoption plan for you.
  • What happens at the hospital?
    If you are matched with a family before going into labor we will work with you, the adoptive family, and the hospital employees to create a hospital plan that meet your needs. This plan is flexible and can always change depending on how you are feeling at the hospital. We believe this is your time to call the shots and make sure the experience is what you want it to be. ​ If you are admitted to the hospital and have not been matched yet, don’t worry. With our over 40 years of domestic adoption experience working with women, we are well versed in being flexible, and working quickly in order for you to pick an adoptive family, meet them, and even have the baby go home with them. We can help you fill out the paperwork, or can work with you to get it completed after discharge.
  • Do I have to pick the family?
    No, some of the expectant mothers we work with, don’t want to pick the family, and we are happy to do that for you if you want. We will ask you questions about yourself that help us narrow down who would be a good match for you and your baby.
  • What happens after the baby is born?
    Every open adoption is different because the relationship between the adoptive family, birth family, and adoptee changes based on how much and what kind of contact the birth family wants. Often birth families are in touch with the adoptive family pretty soon after the baby is born, and receive pictures, letters and even have visits with the child. Before the adoptive parents are able to finalize the adoption they have to wait 6 months. During that time they will meet with a social workers 4 times to check in on the baby, their parenting, and to make sure everything is going smoothly.
  • What if I am due really soon?
    Don’t worry. We have been doing this for a long time and no matter how much time we have before the baby comes we will make sure you are supported, and feel comfortable throughout the process. We work with people at all stages of their pregnancy and some women even after they have delivered.
  • Will this cost me?
    No, there is never any cost to birth families. Most state laws allow the adoptive family to pay for pregnancy related expenses for the birth mothers a few months before delivery and 1 or 2 months after. This means any maternity clothes you need will be covered, along with the medical bills, as well as a few other expenses. Every state is different but we can help you figure out what is allowed and what isn’t.
  • What if I used some drugs/alcohol?
    We will find a loving forever family for your child no matter what your medical history entails. Depending on the type and amount of the drugs used, we will make sure to match you with a family who is prepared to raise a child who may have been impacted by drugs in utero. It is important that you are honest and upfront about the drug use so we can match you with an appropriate family.
  • What happens if I decide to parent?
    If you decide to parent your child we are completely supportive of you and the decision you have come to. This is a big and important decision, and we would never want you to feel pressure to place your child for adoption - no one will be upset with you.
  • Will my child be mad at me, or confused when they are older?
    One of the benefits of open adoption is that there are no secrets. Children are told about their past and their birth families. They understand the decisions that you made when they were a baby were in the best interest of you and your child. Also, many birth parents enjoy making scrapbooks and albums that document pregnancy, birth, and the early life of their child from the perspective of the birth parent. We have seen that when children grow up knowing their birth families and are able to ask you questions they do better. They have less confusion, less anger and feelings of resentment and abandonment. Since we have been around for so long we have seen the benefits of open adoption first hand. Children of open adoption enjoy getting to know how they are like their birth families and how they are like their adoptive families.
  • How do I get started?
    Call us at (800) 969-6665 and we can answer any questions you have and send you the paperwork to get started. We can also meet with you face to face if you prefer.
  • Do I need a lawyer?
    No. An adoption agency, like Adopt International, will advocate for you and advise you of your legal rights. That being said, if you want a lawyer we will help get you one.
  • If I place my baby for adoption, can I still choose their name?
    Yes, a birth certificate will be created that has your name, as the mother, and whatever name you give your child (we will get you an original of this birth certificate). With your permission, we will also get an original for your child to keep as many adoptees really value having a copy of their original birth certificate. When the family finalizes their adoption a new birth certificate will be made with the adoptive parent’s names, and the name they give the baby. Often both parties talk about it and decide a name together. Many adoptive parents choose to include the name you give the baby as their middle name.
  • How do I know who will be good parents my baby?
    In order for us to present a family to you they have to go through a long background check, where we look at their personal history, medical history, criminal history, and finances among other things. They are also required to take classes on parenting, and adoption. Then we approve them to become an adoptive family, this is called the Home Study. We find the best matches come when you and the prospective adoptive family have things in common like shared values, hobbies and dreams for your child.
  • How will I feel after the adoptive family takes my baby home?
    Placing your child for adoption is a scary, stressful, and very hard thing to do. You will feel sad, there is no way around it. Grieving is a normal process after placing your child, and we are here to support you, listen and help you cope with your emotions at this time. Many people find it helpful to go to counseling or talk to other women or couples who have been through a similar situation.
  • How do you make sure that the adoptive family upholds the open adoption agreement?
    Adopt International only works with families who want open adoptions and in California you have the option to make your post adoption agreement legally binding. We can help you figure out exactly what details you want in your agreement, and then make it legally binding if that is what you choose. If you live outside of California but pick a California family you may have the option to still have a legally binding agreement about continuing contact. Many other states have similar laws. We can help you figure out the laws of your state.

¿Considerando dar en adopción? 

Si estás embarazada y consideras dar en adopción a tu bebé, mereces tener una experiencia respetuosa y positiva. Te empoderaremos para que puedes tomar la mejor decisión para usted. Tenemos trabajadoras sociales que hablan español para ayudarte y responder a tus preguntas.


Nuestras consejeras de adopción pueden:

  • Ayudarle a decidir si adopción es la mejor opción para ti

  • Apoyar en su decisión de criar a tu niño o por familia adoptiva.  

  • Ayudar a aprender sobre la adopción abierta. 

  • Ayudarle a elegir una familia adoptiva

  • Informarle sobre sus derechos y a poner en contacto con los servicios que se requieran. 

  • Asistirle para conseguir ayuda en los gastos de adopción. 

  • Apoyarle antes y después del nacimiento de su bebé. 


Usted tiene el control, y puede elegir el mejor plan de adopción que mejor le convenga

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