Adoption is the legal and emotional acceptance of a child not born into your family. There are several different kinds of adoption, including domestic, international, public adoption, independent adoption, stepparent adoption, and relative adoption. The decision to adopt is a life-changing one for you, your family, and the child or children you adopt. There are many important decisions to be made, and the adoption process can be lengthy. Follow the links below to:

Learn About the Different Types of Adoption

Domestic Adoption

Domestic Adoption is when a birth mother creates an adoption plan and often chooses which family to adopt her child/infant. The birth father may also be involved in this process.

International Adoption

International Adoption is when a child from another country is adopted and becomes a citizen of the United States.

Public Adoption (Adoption from Foster Care)

Adopting from the Foster Care System (also called “public adoption”) consists of creating a “no matter what” home for children who cannot be successfully reunited with their birth families for a variety of reasons. You may have heard about the thousands of children in the United States who linger in foster care each year, waiting for a family. No one wants this to be a child’s or teen’s reality. As you are beginning your information-gathering journey, we want you to know that 70% of the children who enter Wisconsin’s foster care system are successfully reunited with their birth families. Many of the children who enter foster care in our state need love and care for shorter periods of time from foster parents. So what about the other 30%? When children cannot be successfully reunited with their birth families, the child welfare system works to locate a family through adoption or guardianship. The good news for the children in Wisconsin’s system is that 80% of the time, those families are either relatives or the foster parents they currently live with. This is good for children because it means fewer moves and less disruption in their lives. What this means is that the percentage of children in need of an unknown or new “no matter what” family is smaller than what is sometimes perceived by those wishing to adopt. Nonetheless, these children need parents and highly committed, patient, flexible, and enduring families. Many of the children and youth for whom we are hoping to help find permanent family connections have been involved in the child welfare system for an extended period of time and possess emotional scars as a result of abuse, neglect, or even abandonment.

These children and older youth are looking for parents who believe they can meet their needs and challenges while appreciating the reward of making small changes that lead to a lifetime of hope and success. If you are ready to make a lifetime commitment, we encourage you to continue learning more about adopting children from foster care.

Relative Adoption

Relatives adopt children for various reasons but typically do so to allow children to maintain family bonds and connections. If you are looking to adopt a child who is related to you because that child’s birth parents are making a plan of adoption, you will need to complete a Relative Independent Adoption. For more information on how to do this, please download our Domestic Infant Adoption information packet. If you are seeking to adopt a child who is related to you and who entered your care through the child welfare system, you should go forward with a public adoption. For additional information, please download our Adopting from Foster Care information packet.

Stepparent Adoption

Stepparent Adoptions typically take place when a spouse wants to become the legal parent of their spouse’s child. As with all adoptions, there are requirements to fulfill and a legal process to complete.

Find Resources to Help Make Adoption More Affordable

After deciding to pursue adoption, families can become discouraged when they discover its costs. Though adoption can be expensive, there are many financial resources available to aid families. The following websites provide lists of grants and financing resources:

Some workplaces offer employee benefits, and you may want to talk to your employer to see if he or she offers these benefits. For more about employer adoption benefits, please visit the Dave Thomas Foundation website on adoption-friendly workplaces. For more information on tax credits, you may want to contact your agency, social worker, or state adoption unit.

The above sites are not endorsed by the Wisconsin Family Connections Center, the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families, or their funders but are only suggestions of possible grant opportunities and financing resources. For more information or to speak with a Resource Specialist, please call 1-800-762-8063.

Find an Adoption Attorney

Adoption Attorneys for the State of Wisconsin (PDF) as recognized by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. For more information about the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys or for listings in another state, please contact the Academy at (202) 832-2222.