The urge to have children is very strong for many people, whether couples or singles.  The urge is not restricted to people in a committed relationship or couples of different genders.  When the “old fashioned way” won’t or can’t work, adoption or assisted conception are the other options.  There are many things you need to be mindful of.  Some of them are as follows:


In almost all states, private adoptions are difficult.  Adoption agency arrangements can give you some protections, but there are long waiting lists.  If you look in most newspapers’ want ads, you will see ads from couples who desperately want to adopt.  There must be consents from both mother and father.  In Pennsylvania, neither parent can consent until after the child is born.  Additionally, in Pennsylvania and in many other states, adoption is a 2 step process, requiring a home-study report, criminal and child abuse clearances, and a termination hearing several months before the adoption hearing.  It is important to be assured that the man signing the consent is indeed the father of the child.  Both parents have the right to change their minds even after signing the consents, so there is a lengthy and tense period before finalization.

Foreign adoptions have become much harder.  Again, adoption agencies can facilitate the process.  As with domestic adoptions, it is vital to make sure you are using a well-known and respected agency.  US immigration laws define the circumstances in which a foreign child can be brought here.  This is a minefield for people without an agency or experienced lawyer.  For example, the US defines an “orphan” as a child who does not have both parents.  Other countries may define an “orphan” as a child that only has 1 parent.


Many doctors have practices where they will use donated sperm, eggs or both and facilitate conception in a uterus or in a test tube.  Sometimes another party (a surrogate) will carry the child for a prospective parent(s).  Each state has different laws regarding these arrangements. 

There are many, many areas where problems can occur.  Some examples: a genetic disease that was not tested for; a surrogate who will not give up the child; eggs or sperm that carry diseases; exorbitant fees; intended parents divorcing or changing their minds; known sperm donors who must support the child even though they were promised no liability. This is only a partial list. As with adoption, it is vital to consult an attorney experienced in these matters and to use a well-respected physician and practice. There are many people out there who hold them selves out as able to arrange these practices, but who are not legally or medically qualified to do so.

Because the desire to have children is so great, many people do not take the time to get appropriate legal advice. It is important that they do so, for if things go wrong, it is not just a matter of money, as the impact of a failed adoption on a family can be devastating.