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Adoption is the process of a permanent legal transfer of responsibilities and parental rights from a child’s biological parents to adoptive parents. Adoptive parents then have legal possession over the child with the same rights as their biological parents. [1]


Types of adoptions

There are two main forms of adoptions, open and closed.

Open Adoption


An open adoption is a form of adoption where the biological parents and adoptive families both have access to each other’s personal information with the option to stay in contact. [2] In open adoptions, the adoptive parents have all the parental rights as a biological parent. Both parties are eligible to make the decision to stay in contact through visits, mail, photos or phone calls. [2] Furthermore, there is also semi-open adoption also known as mediated adoption where an agency caseworker, lawyer or someone that acts as a mediator that will pass along photos, mails, and any information between the birth parents and the adoptive family. Semi-open adoption allows the birth parents and adoptive family to communicate but still maintain privacy in their lives. Private contact information like addresses and names are not shared.

Closed Adoption


A closed adoption is a form of adoption where the biological parents' record and information is kept sealed from the adoptive family. [3] Closed adoption is also known as confidential adoption or secret adoption. However, if the child has a relationship with their biological parents, it cannot be considered a closed adoption. [3] This type of adoption was most popular during the post-World War II Baby Scoop Era. [3]

International Adoption


In addition to the two main forms of adoptions, there is also another type of adoption known as international adoption. This type of adoption also refers as intercountry adoption or transitional adoption. International adoption is an adoption which allows individual or couples to become the legal parents of a child who has a different nationality. Many countries have established various laws to accept international adoptions. For instance, countries like China and South Korea have well established policies and procedures for international adoptions. However, countries like Africa have extended the residency requirement for those individuals who want to adopt children internationally.[4]

How to adopt

When a couple or individual decide to adopt a child, there are several different places and people that can help facilitate adoption.


Adoption agencies can be public or private. They are regulated by the state or province and licensed to place children with adoptive families. [5]

Public agency

Public agencies are usually run by the state or province and usually include abandoned, orphaned or abused children. The children can be brought by their own biological parents or expectant parents who are seeking to give their child up for adoption or they may have been already in the care of the government. [5]

Private agency

Private agencies are very similar to public agencies; however, the only difference is that private agencies are formally regulated by private owners and organizations instead of the government.


Independent adoptions occur when it involves direct arrangement between birth parents and adoptive parents. In most arrangements, an attorney will be hired to handle the paperwork and legal issues regarding adoption. [5]


When an adoption occurs within the family, it is considered an independent adoption where both parties directly organize the adoption procedure with each other. [5]


An identification adoption is the combination of both independent and agency adoptions. In most instances, both parents find each other and together they ask the agency to handle the rest of the process including the legal paperwork. [5]


The process of international adoptions can be quite complicated because of the laws and citizenship regulations in different countries. Many parent(s) choose to use agencies to help with the adoption process because of their international relation skills and assistance in making the adoption proceed smoothly. [5] There are legal regulations that one must follow for an international adoption. For instance, one must be approved by a foreign adoption agency and have consent from the biological parents and local guardian of child. [5]

Adult Adoptions

Adult adoptions are one of the most rare adoptions. [5] Adult adoptions occur when an individual or couple wants to secure inheritance rights for those they have grown to respect and love. [5]

Causes for giving a child up for adoption

There are many reasons why parent(s) who have or expect a child may need to put their child up for adoption. The parent(s) have to make the difficult decision of whether or not to place their child up for adoption for the sake of better futures for the child and parents.

Teen Pregnancy

When a female under the age of 20 has a child, it is considered a teen pregnancy. [6] Adolescents usually do not plan to have children so young, hence the parents are put in a situation where they are not yet capable of raising a child. They often have less support from their family and friends, have less experience raising a child, or are unwilling to raise a child.

Low-socioeconomic status

Individuals with a low socioeconomic status tend to lack the resources and finances to raise a healthy and prosperous child. The most common groups of these individuals are: single mothers, parents living in poverty, and teen mothers. Parent(s) lacking the means to offer their children more resource stability often choose to put up their children for adoption to other parents that can provide more resource stability. [7]

Culture, Morals or Religion

In particular cultures, parents and family have a gender preference. If the undesired gender is the outcome of the pregnancy, the parents will often put their child up for adoption. For example, in past Chinese culture, families preferred to have a baby boy because they believed boys are stronger and would be more capable to help the family with hard labour. [8] In other cultures and religious beliefs, selective abortion is forbidden. Hence, the next best option would be to place the child up for adoption. [9] Before the 1970s, Ann Fessler investigated young white women in North America as they were forced to give up their child if they were pregnant. She found that the culture of that time was for many "illegitimate" babies to be given up for adoption due to familial and societal obligations. [10]

Birth Parent’s Age

An older parent who has a child may feel that their age restricts them to raise their child. The parent’s physical and mental health will decrease over time and they may find the strength and stamina necessary to raise a child too much. [9]

Undesirable Single Parenting

Single parents with a child often feel they are unable to raise a child due to the lack of financial support and presence of two parents. Additionally, single parents may make the decision to place their child up for adoption because the other parent may be unwilling to take custody of the baby, offer financial support, or moral support towards the upbringing of the child. [9]

Reasons to adopt a child

Many individuals adopt children because it enables them to expand their family when they would otherwise be unable to or to help a child in need of a stable home.



Infertile women are those who incapable of becoming pregnant through various reasons including age of body or health condition. [11] Infertile men are usually due to health conditions. An infertile would-be parent can choose to expand their family through adoption.

Same-Sex Couples


The ways that same sex families/couples are similar from heterosexual families are how their children are raised. However, same sex families do challenge heterosexual family forms. They use different methods to have children. As opposed to the traditional way that we are used to through a biological mother, same-sex couples have children through one of the most popular method which is adoption. This is because same sex couples are unable to reproduce because of biologically incompatible organs between partners. If they do not choose for one partner use their sperm or egg and the egg or sperm of a donor, then they can choose to adopt a child. [12] However, same sex couples still facs struggle in legislation in terms of adoption in various part of the world due to the misconception that lesbian and gay parents do not raise physically and mentally healthy children. Moreover, the mainstream believe that children of lesbian and gay parents might struggle to develop proper sexuality and gender identity. As a result there are only a few countries that allowed adoptions by same sex couples. These countries are: Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and some part of the United States.[13]

Rescue a Child

Some families believe in adopting children to give a child the opportunity of having a loving and supportive family. Individuals who choose to rescue a child tends desire an impact on the child’s life providing nurturing, teaching and a prospective future. [14]

Assisting Family

In incidences where both biological parents are unable care for their child or children for any reason, the custody will usually go to a family relative. This relative adopts the child and custody changes from the biological parents. Another example is when a biological parent remarries, the stepparent may want to have custody and responsibility over the child so the stepparent will adopt the child from the biological parent to gain full parental rights. [11]

Requirements to adopt a child

Some basic requirements are needed to be eligible to adopt a child.

Financial Stability

To be able to adopt a child, the adoptive family must have a stable financial record to provide the basic necessities and resources towards the growth of the child.


Depending on which country one lives in, some countries including the United States of America state that an individual must be at least 21 years to legally adopt a child. [15] Additionally, the adopter and family must complete a criminal history background check to ensure the safety of the adoptee so that he/she is not being adopted into an abusive home. [15]

Completion of an Application

When adopting a child from an institution, they will require an application to be filled out to acquire personal information regarding the adopter’s background, lifestyle, and contact information. [15]

Effects of adoption

During and after the process of adoption, the individuals can experience strong emotions.

Adopted Child

After the child discovers that they were adopted they tend have mixed emotions. The child will often feel rejected and abandoned and they will question why they were given up for adoption. [16] Additionally, some children will feel grief over not being able to meet their biological parents, siblings, family members and over the loss of their birth culture. [16] An author David Brodzinsky also suggests that children who are adopted are always on a “lifelong search for self” because they are constantly trying to learn more about their biological family and their own cultural background as an individual. [16]

Adopted Child by same sex couples

Some researchers have examined the association between child development and parental sexual orientation. Farr (2010) investigated the behavior problem of the adopted children between heterosexual family and homosexual family. Her research suggests that adopted children raised by gay or lesbian couple have less behavior problems such as symptoms like anxiety and depression.[17] Furthermore, Stacey’s(2001) research suggests that children that are adopted and raised by same sex couples have the same equivalent level of psychological well being as those children raised by heterosexual couples. All these researches suggested that there are no association between sexual orientation and children development. Lesbian and gay couple are capable of raising physically and mentally healthy adopted children.[18]

Parents of Adopted Children

Being the parent(s) of an adopted child can bring tremendous joy and stress. As the child grows up, the child may realize they are not directly related to their adoptive parents and this can strain their relationship (or even bring the family closer together). [19]

Birth Parents

The effects on the birth parents after giving their child up for adoption can be psychologically draining and depressing. [20] Many biological parents, especially mothers, become emotionally attached to the child when they are pregnant or raising the child, and have a hard time giving up what is known to be their own child. The biological parents may feel a sense of loss for someone who is still alive and may begin to mourn. [20] Furthermore, the birth parents may not only grieve for the loss of the child, but also secondary losses like parenting roles. It is impossible for birth parents to entirely forget about their child and if the adoption is open, the thoughts and feelings of the birth parent can be less full of grief because they are able to see their child grow up.


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