Adoption: A Guide to the Process

For some women who’ve gone through early menopause or premature ovarian failure, adoption is a great way to start (or extend) their family. We won’t use this article to compare adoption with, for example, surrogacy or IVF as ways of beginning your family.

This is because, in most cases, you’ll already have a firm idea of what makes sense in your medical situation, as well as a gut feeling for what feels right for you.

Mother cradles hand of newborn baby

When considering adoption there are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to look abroad to adopt a child (international adoption), or would I prefer to adopt a child from the country in which I live?
  • Between an open, semi-open, or confidential (“closed”) adoption, which makes the most sense for me? The former two involve a degree of ongoing communication between the birth parents and adoptive family. In a confidential adoption, however, there is no continued dialogue or sharing of information before or after the adoption is complete.
  • Would I rather hire a specialist attorney to pursue an independent adoption, or would it be better to use an agency?

In this article we’ll go on to explore the various steps in this decision-making process.

Deciding to Adopt

If you’re going through premature ovarian failure (POF), it’s important to realize that this is not strictly menopause. One of the key differences is that women with POF can and still do ovulate from time to time and in some instances, can even get pregnant. Spontaneous pregnancy is not unheard of in these cases and up to 10% of women with POF will become pregnant this way.

For others, fertility treatment (particularly IVF) is an option to achieve pregnancy. However, for many women with POF (particularly those with high FSH levels), IVF can be an expensive endeavor with a low probability of success.

Childs feet resting in mother's hands

Common Concerns Regarding Adoption

It isn’t unusual for women considering adoption to have come through a stage of grieving — a sense of “loss” tied to their diagnosis of POF or early menopause. This is perfectly normal  — and not something to dismiss as selfish or silly.

Many women hold the idea of giving birth to their own offspring very dearly from a young age. It can be difficult to contemplate the thought that you won’t be able to pass on your traits to your child — or that no-one will ever comment on your physical similarities.

Nevertheless, for most, this is a temporary or fleeting concern. Remember: there is much more to the parent-child bond than genetic material. As much as anything else, parenting is about shared experiences, care-giving and the mutual love that develops between you. And, in any case, you will pass on traits and characteristics to your adoptive children — via their learned behaviors.

International / Domestic Adoption

Adoptive mother holds up young son

International adoption involves identifying a suitable foreign country from which to adopt your child. Many countries allow overseas couples to legally adopt orphaned children.

In these cases the paperwork is normally completed in the child’s country of birth/residence, so when you travel home, he or she is considered to be yours legally.

If you are considering this route, the state department’s intercountry adoption resource is a good place to start.

Domestic adoption, of course, means adopting a child from within the country in which you reside. There can be a great number of possibilities and variations when it comes to pursuing adoption in this way.

In the USA, for example, adoption laws differ substantially from state to state. Some families adopt infant children whilst others will look to adopt a child out of foster care.

For many the first port of call when considering a domestic adoption is to seek out a specialist attorney. The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys lists its members online, but remember — not all adoption attorneys are members of this organization and this doesn’t necessarily indicate lower standards of practice.

What Type of Adoption Works for You?

Open Adoption

Meetings are arranged between the birth parents and adoptive family before the placement takes place, and personal details are shared by both.

This type of adoption involves a lifelong connection between the two parties (birth parents and adoptive family). For example, being present at the birth; making home visits; attending extended family occasions; and perhaps more.

Historically, this type of adoption was considered rare but in recent times it has become far more common, with a large majority of domestic adoptions now involving a degree of openness.

Semi-open Adoption

Similar to the above but with somewhat less “closeness” in the frequency and types of contact between the birth parents and adoptive family.

An agency may serve as a “go-between”, allowing photos and updates regarding the child to be shared between the parties. In some cases, the birth parents and adoptive family may meet but detailed identifying information is not shared.

Confidential (“Closed”) Adoption

This approach has become somewhat less common over the years. Here there is no planned contact at all between the parties before or after the adoption is complete. However, you may receive medical information regarding the birth parents that is relevant to your adoptive child.

How to Pursue Your Adoption

There are many important choices still to make even after you’ve developed some idea of whether you’d like to adopt from home or abroad, and what type of adoption you want it to be. Perhaps most significant is deciding whether to pursue an independent adoption or whether you’d like to work with a reputable agency.

Independent adoptions can often be somewhat cheaper than using an agency, but on the downside, there is more variability in service. This is because agencies follow formalized procedures with a high level of monitoring to meet imposed standards.

Nevertheless, there are a number of fantastic attorneys who specialize in helping adoptive families, and they should be required to meet certain professional standards depending on your jurisdiction.

To find one, you might consider using the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys directory, or contacting your local Bar Association’s referral service to request the names of local attorneys with experience assisting adoptive families.

Agency adoptions are performed by licensed bodies authorized to operate in a particular area(s). Here is a list for New York, for example, containing details of agencies on a county-by-county basis. As well as private agencies, there are also adoption units within public social services departments. offer a useful state-by-state map to help you identify both kinds of services in you area.

A big part of this process involves deciding what type of adoption best suits your needs. At this point, you may look to local adoption attorneys or seek help from a specialist agency. The former choice is often more cost-effective, but agencies are able to guide you through the process with very formal and regulated procedures.

Life as an Adoptive Parent

After navigating through these legalities you’ll be welcoming a brand new addition to the family. This is a special moment in the life of any parent — one to cherish and enjoy as you start this new chapter in life together.

The way in which the adoption is handled, from the child’s perspective, will again depend on the degree to which your adoption is open or closed. Nevertheless, one thing’s for sure: you’ll be embarking on this journey with a special new family member, not only a child but a recipient of love and care from a special home.

If you’d like to share your experience with adoption, or meet like-minded women, consider joining our support group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts