Independent Adoption

Domestic Independent/Private Adoption 

A private adoption without an agency begins when prospective adopting parents and birth parents locate one another, usually through newspaper advertisements, online profiles, private adoption ads or through introductions by mutual friends, relatives or acquaintances. We can guide prospective birth parents or adoptive parents through these options and advise them on the safest and most successful avenues to locate each other for a non-agency adoption.

It’s important to note that every private or independent adoption will require, at a minimum, an adoption attorney to complete the necessary legal steps and to ensure that your adoption is completed correctly in accordance with state laws. Not only can Jennifer and Catelyn guide you through the process of finding an adoption opportunity safely, they can also complete your legal processes all the way through to adoption finalization.

Contact us now to begin your adoption journey, or read on for more information about adoption without an agency in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.:

The Differences Between Private Independent Adoption and Agency Adoption

Although the actual adoption process is generally the same, some aspects are very different in a private/independent adoption versus an agency adoption. Here are the key differences between the two:

  • Independent adoptions allow prospective birth and adoptive parents to find each other independently anywhere in the country.  On the other hand, an agency connects expectant and adoptive parents who are searching for one another only within that particular agency. 
  • Some agencies financially protect some of the adoptive family’s money in the event of a disruption. Families in independent adoptions usually do not have fees that are “rolled over” or applied to a new match; however, there are no large agency fees, so the financial risk is often lower.
  • Birth parents may receive adoption benefits, such as counseling through both agency and private adoptions.  With an agency, counseling services are provided by the agency, while in private adoptions they are independently contracted.
  • In private adoptions, the adoptive and expectant parents will talk and learn about each other directly, and their lawyer will help identify any issues or concerns. In an agency adoption, contact is often mediated for both sides by an agency professional.

If you have specific questions or concerns about an independent adoption, we can address these in your consultation and help you determine which type of adoption is right for you and your family. Contact us now to learn more.

The Process of Adoption Without an Agency:

1. Hire an adoption attorney!

Your adoption attorney will be your primary professional throughout the independent adoption process. When you work with our firm for your independent adoption, we will schedule an initial consultation with you to discuss all of your family-building options, advise you through the process of searching for an independent adoption opportunity, and guide you through the remainder of the legal adoption process.

2. Find an adoption opportunity.

Adoptive parents may learn of prospective birth parents either through word-of-mouth contacts, online profiles, verbal networking, newspaper advertisements or other marketing and outreach efforts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Jennifer can advise prospective birth parents and adoptive families, as they search for one another in the independent adoption process.

3. Create an adoption plan.

Once the parties locate one another, they begin working together to resolve issues that arise through the independent adoption process. They may discuss what is referred to as an “adoption plan.” This negotiation may be made directly by the parties but is usually done through their attorneys. The adoption can be completely "open," whereby the parties exchange identifying information, or "closed," whereby the parties' identifying information remains confidential.

4. Complete placement.

In an independent adoption, the birth parents give consent to the adoption of his or her child directly to the adoptive parents.  Legal custody of the child passes directly from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. The attorney representing the prospective birth mother will often make arrangements with the hospital where the child is to be born so that the adoptive parents will have access to the child in the nursery following birth, and the child will be discharged directly to the adoptive parents. After the child is born the birth mother will execute her consent to the adoption. This is usually done at the hospital in the presence of the birth mother’s own attorney, although the actual consent process depends on the laws governing the adoption.

Just like the birth mother, the birth father of the child must consent to the adoption. If the birth father does not consent, he must be given notice of the proceeding by being served with a "show cause order". Under certain circumstances, a birth father can be given notice by publication in the newspaper.

In Maryland, before the adoptive parents take physical custody of the child, the law requires that a court order be obtained, which grants legal custody to the parents. A birth parent executing his or her consent to an independent adoption in Maryland may revoke that consent for any reason for up to 30 days from its execution. A revocation must be in writing, signed by the revoking birth parent and filed with the clerk of the court. In the District of Columbia, consent is irrevocable once it is filed with the Court. In Virginia, a birth father can sign a pre-birth denial of paternity, and a birth mother can sign a judicial consent three or more days after the child is born. She has seven days to revoke her consent, once signed.

5. File an adoption petition.

Once adoptive parents have located a potential birth parent who wishes to place their child for adoption and the child is born, the adopting parents file a Petition in the appropriate court. Each county has different local rules related to adoption, and the process, while similar, has nuances. As such, hiring an adoption attorney is important to ensure a smooth completion of the adoption.

6. Finalize the adoption.

Jennifer or Catelyn will assist in negotiating a birth plan and post-adoption contact agreement, if desired by either the birth parents or adoptive parents. If the child is born outside of Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia, they will assist with obtaining approval from the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) and, if part of the adoption plan, with finalizing the adoption in the state of Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia. Jennifer and Catelyn have extensive experience in handling ICPC matters.


For clients pursuing private independent adoption who are on retainer with our law firm, they may access discounts from Adoption Advisor through this webpage (please note they will confirm you are an active client before applying discount): and for those using Parent Profiles, a discount code will be provided when retained.

To begin the private adoption process, contact us now.

What is a home study?

State law dictates whether an individual social worker, a private licensed child placing agency, or a public social service agency may perform the home study. The process is designed to evaluate the adoptive parents to assure that there is nothing in their homes or backgrounds which would be contrary to the best interests of the child.  It is an independent investigation to verify your suitability as adoptive parents.  It includes criminal and child abuse clearances and is valid for one year and can be updated annually. 

How long will private adoption take?

Waiting periods are dependent upon a host of controllable and non-controllable factors. Generally, the average waiting period to find a woman who is expecting a child and wanting to make an adoption plan is 12 – 36 months. Waits can be shorter or longer depending on individual situations and client’s specified parameters for adoption such as gender preference, race, age of adoptive parent, number of children in family, financial limitations, & state of residence of adoptive parents and birth parents.

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax