Must an adoption be handled through an adoption agency?

No. The natural parents of a child can directly deal with the adoptive parents, in a case such as one in which an adoption occurs among families and friends. Private adoptions (also referred to as "independent adoptions"), facilitated by attorneys, doctors or other intermediaries, are also becoming more common. When dealing with a private adoption it is important to bear in mind that it is against the law to pay someone (or pay a broker's fee) for a baby but providing the reasonable costs of medical and legal expenses of the natural parent is permitted.

Private adoptions may also occur where the natural parent(s) live in one state and the adoptive parents reside in another. Adoptions in which the child is from another country are increasing in frequency (see further information below).

Adoption support groups and information organizations may exist in your local area. These people may assist you by providing recommendations and referrals to those in your area who can help you with an adoption. When attempting a private adoption, advice and counsel from those who have successfully completed such an adoption can be extremely helpful.