Who May Place a Child for Adoption?

Generally any person or entity having the legal right to place a child for adoption may do so. The persons with such right are the birth parents, the legal guardian of the child or the guardian ad litem. The entities that may have such rights are the State Departments of Social Services or child-placing agencies. In all states and territories except Washington DC, Arkansas and Northern Mariana Islands, the laws specifically designate the persons and entities with the right to place a child for adoption.

In most states, the law permits independent or private adoptions without any role for an adoption agency. Direct placement is a common type of private adoption permitted in most states. In a direct placement, the birth parents place the child with an adoptive family. In states that all direct placement, there are strict regulations to protect the interests of the child, the birth parents and the adoptive parents.

In West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Delaware and Alaska, the placements must be made by the State Departments of Human or Social Services or a licensed agency or agencies that meet specific requirements. Prior permission from the Department or the court is required for private placements in Rhode Island, Minnesota, Kentucky and Florida.

In a few states, intermediaries such as attorneys can arrange private placements. There are strict rules regulating the activities and fees of such intermediaries.

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