Adoption/TPR Resource Guide

Because adoption is a legal process that establishes a parent/child relationship between individuals who are not related by blood, courts are involved in the decision to grant adoptions, as well as many of the collateral issues relating to consent for adoption that may exist.  The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) sets conditions under which states should terminate parental rights, which is a necessary prerequisite for adoptions, while also allowing the court the discretion to waive this requirement when it determines that this is not in the child’s best interest.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Featured Resources

  • Trends in U.S. adoptions: 2008–12. (2016). Child Welfare Information Gateway. This report presents data on the total number of adoptions in the United States as well as the number of public, inter-country, and other adoptions.
  • Who Cares About Adoption Data? We Do. This archived webinar provides the latest estimates on adoption data, sources for existing data, and difficulties in collecting and tracking the data.  Presenters:  Matt Shuman, M.S.W., Child Welfare Information Gateway; Gene Flango, Ph.D., National Center for State Courts (NCSC) (retired).
  • National Adoption Month. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is pleased to announce that the National Adoption Month website, created in partnership with AdoptUSKids, is now online.
  • Shuman, Matthew D. and Victor E. Flango. Trends in U.S. Adoptions:  2000 to 2009. (July 2013). Journal of Public Child Welfare. Because there is no single source for adoption statistics, this study examined data from the state courts, state child welfare agencies, state bureaus of vital records, and the U.S. Department of State to develop national and state adoption estimates for 2000 to 2009. Abstract available online.

Adoption Agencies and Organizations

  • Child Welfare League of America. CWLA is the oldest and largest nonprofit association assisting abused and neglected children and their families.
  • Children`s Bureau. The Children’s Bureau (CB) is the oldest federal agency for children and is located within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. It is responsible for assisting states in the delivery of child welfare services to protect children and strengthen families. It also provides fact sheets and information on laws, policies, programs, and initiatives concerning adoptions.
  • Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (Archived material after January 2018). The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has archived resources up to January 2018.The Adoption Institute provides information for journalists, researchers, and professionals.

Adoption Law

Information and Statistics on Adoption

International Adoptions

Safe Haven Laws

  • Pergamit, Michael and Michelle Ernst. Running Away from Foster Care: Youths' Knowledge and Access of Services. (April 2011). This report constitutes the third part of a study on runaway youths and their knowledge and access of services. This report is based on interviews with a sample of youth who ran away from foster care placements in Chicago and Los Angeles. The information provided by these youths will help us to understand better why they run away and what can be done to prevent youth from running away from foster care.
  • Infant Abandonment. (February 2010). Guttmacher Institute. This policy brief reviews safe haven laws in the fifty states and the District of Columbia.
  • Alaska, Nebraska Become 49th and 50th States to Enact Safe Haven Laws. (February 2008). National Council For Adoption (NCFA). This NCFA media advisory on safe haven laws notes that Alaska and Nebraska are the 49th & 50th states to adopt safe haven laws.
  • Gov. Heineman Signs Safe Haven Update into Law. (November 2008). Communications Office of Governor Dave Heineman. This updated version of Nebraska’s safe haven law sets an age limit of 30 days for legally surrendering a child.
  • Safe Haven Law. (2008). Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This Nebraska DHSS site provides information on the original safe haven legislation which led to 36 children being surrendered to the department between September and November of 2008. A list of cases with the ages of the children (most of whom were over age 10 and 6 of whom were from other states) is provided.
  • Infant Safe Haven Laws. (July 2007). Child Welfare Information Gateway. This site provides information on state statutes on safe haven laws as of July 2007. (Note several states have added or changed safe haven laws since that time).
  • The Child Welfare Leagues` Baby Abandonment Page. This page provides information on baby abandonment, including state-specific information on legislation and a summary and monograph concerning baby abandonment and safe haven laws.

Special Needs Children Family Assistance

Termination of Parental Rights

  • Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children. (September 2012). National Council on Disability. This report examines the disparate treatment encountered by parents with disabilities and their children within the child welfare system. New Mexico Child Welfare Handbook. (2011). New Mexico Judicial Education Center. The purpose of the Handbook is to provide the judiciary and other members of the child welfare community with a comprehensive resource guide to New Mexico’s child abuse and neglect process.
  • Ellis, Raquel, Karin Malm, and Erin Biship. The Timing of Terminations of Parental Rights:  A Balancing Act for Children`s Best Interests. (September 2009). Child Trends A sample of 20 judges representing 18 different states participated in telephone interviews to explore their perspectives and experiences around termination of parental rights proceedings and the challenges faced when making decisions in these cases.
  • Szymanski, Linda A. Jury Trial in Termination of Parental Rights Cases. (2008). National Center for Juvenile Justice This NCJJ Snapshot provides an overview of how states address the issue of jury trials in termination of parental rights cases.
  • Maryland CINA, related TPR and Adoption Matters. Best Practices Manual. (January 2007). Foster Care Improvement Project. This document provides standards for child welfare hearings for the Maryland courts.
  • National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System. ABA Center on Children and the Law. This collaborative project provides resources and training to improve parent representation in child welfare cases.
  • Table of Appeals of Termination of Parental Rights Cases. Virginia Court Improvement Program, Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia. This table provides a list of termination of parental rights cases appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Court of Appeals of Virginia since January 1, 1996 that were decided by opinion. The editors of this document arranged the cases into fourteen categories based on their characterization of the legal and factual issues involved.
  • Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights. (2013). Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Discusses. State laws that provide the legal basis for terminating the rights of parents who have been found unfit to parent their children. The circumstances under which the court may find that termination may not serve the child's best interests and under which a parent's rights may be reinstated also are addressed. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included. This report provides U.S. adoption data and found that the total number has fallen from a count of 133,737 adoptions in 2007 to 110,373 (41,023 related adoptions and 69,350 unrelated adoptions) in 2014.
  • AFCARS Report #23. (2016). Children's Bureau.This report reflects all AFCARS data received as of June 8, 2016 related to AFCARS reporting periods through September 30, 2015.