In an agency adoption, a birth parent relinquishes his or her parental rights to the adoption agency by executing a consent in favor of the agency. The agency then places the child for adoption with adoptive parents selected by either the birth parent or the agency.
Thus, if the birth parents or adoptive parents need assistance in locating one another, a private agency can get involved to match the parents. Typically, the agency provides adoption services such as counseling and financial support to the birth parents. The birth parents often assist in choosing the adoptive parents by reviewing “resumes” of interested parents, which include non-identifying information and photos of the prospective adoptive parents.
Home studies are required as part of the adoption process. The agency working with the families will provide the home study services. After the adoptive parents have been identified and after the child is born, each birth parent gives consent to guardianship of the child in favor of the agency. This consent gives the agency the right to place the child for adoption. The birth parents have 30 days after signing to revoke their consent. Meanwhile, the adoption agency files a petition in the appropriate circuit court to obtain legal guardianship of the child. Once the revocation period expires, the court will grant legal guardianship to the agency and terminate the parental rights of the birth parents. While the guardianship proceeding is pending, the child will be placed with the prospective adopting parents if the parents are willing to assume the risk of placement before the parental rights are terminated. Otherwise the baby will be placed in a foster home until the parental rights are terminated. The child will then be placed with the adopting couple.
Following a required post-placement supervision period, the agency gives its consent to the adoption to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents proceed to finalize their adoption by filing a petition for adoption in the circuit court in the county where they reside.
During the period of post-placement supervision following the placement of the child, the agency retains legal custody of the child while the adoptive parents have physical custody. In the majority of agency adoption placements, either public or private, the child is placed directly with the adoptive parents following his or her birth. However, a newborn child may be placed in foster care during the period of time that the parental rights of the birth parents are being terminated.
A consent to guardianship is revocable for 30 days after it is signed. When the court grants the guardianship, the parental rights of the birth parents are terminated. The above procedures put the agency in the position where the agency can give the adoptive parents a consent to adoption.