An adoption, usually of an infant, in which adopting parents locate a pregnant woman considering adoption for her child; also known as TARGETED ADOPTION or IDENTIFIED ADOPTION. After identifying the birthmother, the adopting parents request an adoption agency or attorney to oversee the adoption of the woman's child. An intermediary agency or other third party may know the full names of the birthparents and adopting parents but keep this information in confidence.
In some cases, the pregnant woman herself finds a family who she would like as the adoptive parents for her child and then requests the assistance of an agency or attorney.
In the states that do not ban INDEPENDENT ADOPTION, designated adoptions may be offered as an option by agencies or attorneys; however, in the states that do ban nonagency adoption, the only form of designated adoption allowed is through an adoption agency. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota and North Dakota allow identified or designated adoptions within certain constraints.
A designated adoption may be an OPEN ADOPTION or may be a confidential, anonymous adoption, depending on state laws and the wishes of the parties involved.
When an adoption agency oversees the designated adoption, a key advantage to the pregnant woman as well as to the adopting couple is that they will all receive professional counseling and the full range of agency services. If, for some reason, the adopting couple is deemed unsuitable or they drop out of the adoption, the agency can recommend other approved couples to the birthmother. Also, increasing numbers of attorneys are requiring counseling or preplacement home studies of prospective adoptive parents and are also giving birthmothers the opportunity to receive professional counseling as well.
The disadvantage of a designated adoption for most couples is the difficulty in locating a pregnant woman considering adoption. When an agency becomes involved it is also possible that an agency social worker could veto an adoption for any number of reasons, even though a couple may have invested heavily of their emotions, time and money. Another disadvantage of an identified adoption is that the birthmother may have difficulty in choosing appropriate parents, particularly if she is close to delivering and feels desperately eager to resolve her situation.
Some also point out that adoptive parents might be tempted to agree to virtually any request or demand by the birthmother because they are so intent on adopting a child. This is one of the same disadvantages of OPEN ADOPTION. Later on, they may not wish to carry out the birthmother's requests, such as providing photographs or continuing contact, and may be reluctant or refuse to do so. Even if they have formally contracted with the birthmother to perform such acts, it's not at all certain such a contract would hold up in court once the adoption is finalized. There are reported cases on both sides of the issue.
Furthermore, although most couples are very eager to adopt an infant once they've decided on this course, they may not be psychologically or emotionally ready to succeed right away; for example, they may not have fully resolved anxiety over infertility and may not have faced adoption issues that need to be considered.
It is not clear how many designated adoptions are occurring nationwide; however, there does seem to be a slight upward trend in the number of adoptive parents who aggressively seek birthparents for the purpose of adopting infants. Most adoptive parents who do locate a pregnant woman proceed with a designated adoption through an attorney in an INDEPENDENT ADOPTION, instead of an agency adoption, rather than risk losing control of the situation.
Adoption agencies that work with identified adoptions generally believe that people who wish to have identified adoptions can usually find an attorney to perform an INDEPENDENT ADOPTION. But they believe that the counseling provided by an agency will at least ensure that the birthmother understands her options and the adopting parents learn some basics about adoption.
Agencies that do designated adoptions reserve the right to disapprove the adoption if the match is clearly inappropriate or there is some valid reason to disapprove the adoptive parents' home study. It is tacitly understood, however, that if the adoptive parents complete a home study and are approved, then they will adopt the child of the pregnant woman they have identified to the agency.
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©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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