If you’re considering adopting a child and feeling overwhelmed about deciding which type of adoption is right for you, I get it; I’ve been there. I spent countless hours Googling, trying to figure it all out. There were many times when I felt incredibly frustrated with the process. If you’re feeling the same way, read on. 

Breaking down the four different types of adoption

To help you narrow it down, let's first focus on the four different types of adoption and then transition into the questions you should ask yourself when considering adopting. 

Embryo donation

There is only one type of adoption that allows you to be the gestational carrier of your child, costs about $15,000, and allows you to adopt in about one year. That is embryo donation

When couples are finished building their family through in vitro fertilization (IVF), they can donate their embryos to organizations that then find adoptees that are looking to build their family through embryo transfer/embryo adoption. Find out more about embryo donation here.

Adoption agency

This is where you choose to work with an agency that walks you through the entire adoption process from start to finish. If you’re considering working with an agency, I would recommend doing your research about the agency. Ask how many adoptions the agency does in one year. How busy are they? How much attention is your adoption going to get? Also, ask what their communication style is. Do they prefer phone, email, or in-person meetings? Make sure you're comfortable with the communication style before you agree to work with them. Some agencies are so busy that you are lost in the shuffle and not communicated with. It’s better to know this ahead of time before you sign on to work with them.

The cost of adopting with an agency can be anywhere from $30,000 on up. The total cost typically includes all of the moving parts of adoption, including fees, home study, etc. 

Perhaps the most important tip if you’re going to work with an adoption agency is to create an adoption profile that helps you emotionally connect with adoptive families. This is so important, even when working with an agency. It is what is going to really make that connection with potential adoptive families and make you stand out from the crowd. Learn more about agency adoption here.

Adoption consultant

An adoption consultant is someone that you hire to walk you through your adoption process. They will help you create your adoption profile, network you with adoption agencies, guide you, and answer any questions you may have throughout the journey.

If you’re going to work with a consultant, I recommend that you do your research and find the right consultant for you. Finding the right partner can save you money and heartache in this process.  

You’ll want to create an adoption profile while working with a consultant as well. This is really a key piece of the adoption puzzle no matter which type of adoption you choose. Having a profile that emotionally connects you with birth parents looking for matching adoptive families will make the adoption process so much easier. Read more about working with adoption consultants here.

Independent adoption

Another type of adoption is called self-matching, or independent adoption. This is where you are going through the process of adoption on your own, not working with an agency or consultant. It is feasible to self-match an adoption in less than a year.

In order to self-match you really have to understand the laws in your state, or the state that you’re looking to adopt. Some states do not allow self-matching, so it’s important to do your research and find out if it is legal or not in your state.

Self-matching includes the typical steps of the adoption process, like home studies, and interviews, and quite a bit of paperwork. But it is unique in that you are the one doing the work of sharing your profile, finding the right coaches and people to help you along the way, finding potential adoption matches, and walking through the process independently.

Just as with the other types of adoption — maybe more so with self-matching adoption — your adoption profile is going to be of the utmost importance, affecting time frame, cost, and more. Find out more about independent adoptions here.

When considering adoption, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you (or your partner) want to give birth to the child?

Ask yourself what is most important to you. Do you or your partner want to carry and give birth to your child? If so, then embryo donation is probably going to be the best path for you. If not, it’s deciding between the other three types of private domestic adoption. 

How much can you afford to spend on adoption?

First and foremost, you need to determine what your budget is for adoption. This will play a large part in your adoption journey and in deciding which type of adoption is right for you. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the funds already raised and ready for adoption. You can always fundraise or apply for grants. 

How are you willing to share your adoption profile?

Are you comfortable getting out there and sharing your profile within your network on social media, through paid advertising, or leaving business cards or brochures with trusted businesses that you see every day in real life? If not, independent adoption may not be the best choice for you. 

What types of support do you need?

Start thinking about the types of support that you may need through your adoption journey. Do you want an agency that’s going to go do all of the legwork for you? Someone who will share your profile and ultimately bring you an adoption opportunity? Or do you want someone that’s going to give you recommendations on multiple different agencies that you could be working with, or potentially even share your profile for you with multiple agencies to find opportunities? All of those questions really come together to bring to life which type of adoption is right for you.

If you're still not sure which type of adoption is the best option for you, don't worry. It's a big decision, and one that shouldn't be made lightly, but this quiz may be able to help. Good luck!

Amanda Koval created My Adoption Coach to offer people hoping to adopt a supportive community to help make their dreams a reality.  Amanda is an adoptive mom of two and an adoption profile expert who has helped over 1,000 families bring home their babies through adoption. She has hundreds of videos on her YouTube channel to teach you how to adopt.