Adoption in Wisconsin

Dads and 2 kids reading

Adoption is one of several permanency options available when children cannot remain with their immediate biological family. Adoption creates a new legal family following the termination or suspension of a child’s birth parents’ parental rights. Guardianship (including subsidized guardianship) and long-term kinship care are permanency options that do not require termination or suspension of adoptees’ legal relationships to their biological relatives.

There are many types of adoption, including adoption from foster care (public adoption), adoption through private child placing agencies (including domestic, international, independent, and relative or stepparent adoption), and adoption through tribal agencies (including customary adoption).

The term “adoption triad” is often used to describe the individuals directly impacted by adoption: adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. “Although adoption is a legal process, it is also a social and emotional process. It can be joyful, but those involved may experience challenges such as loss, grief, and identity issues.” Some individuals in the adoption community use the term “adoption constellation” to encompass those in the triad as well as others impacted by adoption, including other birth and adoptive relatives.

All members of the adoption triad can receive support before or after adoption finalization—even many years after. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Wisconsin Family Connections Center (WiFCC) offer a variety of resources for all those impacted by adoption in Wisconsin.

Click on the statement below that applies to you.

I have already adopted a child.

Visit the Adoptive Parent Resources webpage to learn about the financial, social, and emotional supports available to adoptive families after finalization. This includes:

I want to learn about becoming an adoptive parent.

Visit the Become an Adoptive Parent webpage to learn about the different types of adoption, the process to become an adoptive parent, and what should be considered before looking into adoption. This webpage covers:

  • What adoptees want prospective adoptive parents to know
  • Types of adoption
  • The adoption process
  • Who is eligible to adopt
  • How to get started as a prospective adoptive parent
I am a birth parent whose child has been adopted.

Visit the Birth Parent and Parents Considering an Adoption Plan webpage to learn more about available resources for birth parents. This includes: 

I am a birth parent who would like information about paternity for fathers and non-birthing parents.

Visit the Birth Parents and Parents Considering an Adoption Plan webpage for information about paternity for fathers and non-birthing parents. This includes:

I am considering creating an adoption plan for my child.

Visit the Birth Parents and Parents Considering an Adoption Plan webpage to learn what an adoption plan is, what to consider when creating an adoption plan, and the resources available as you make the decision that’s best for you. These resources include:

  • Supportive services and public assistance programs in Wisconsin
  • Free, no-commitment adoption counseling
  • Steps for creating an adoption plan
  • Information for American Indian & Alaskan Native parents
  • Information about Safe Haven (infant relinquishment) in Wisconsin
I was adopted.

Visit the Adoptee Resources webpage to learn more about resources available to those who were adopted. This includes: