Even once you’ve made the decision to adopt, there are still many choices to be made and different ways to go about the process. Some prospective adoptive parents may only want to adopt an infant, while others may be more open to adopting toddlers or older children through the foster care system. Some parents welcome the idea of parenting a child from another country, embracing a different culture, and are comfortable parenting a child that looks different from themselves. While some prospective adoptive parents may not be comfortable adding these extra layers of complexity to their adoption story. It is important to consider your own limitations and level of comfort when choosing your route to adoption.
Once you have determined that you are pursuing domestic infant adoption, the first step is to take a look at your state’s laws, as some states require agency adoptions and others allow for alternatives. If your state allows various options, you might wonder the differences between facilitators, agencies, and attorneys. The adoption process requires a number of services, including legal work, ethics, counseling, support, and much more! To understand the differences between these adoption professionals, it is important to understand all the components of the adoption process and which professionals provide certain services.
We must reiterate the importance of consulting your state laws, as more than three-quarters of states have laws that either regulate or ban adoption facilitators or intermediaries, due to the possibility of these professionals profiting from a placement. But in the states that allow it, adoption facilitators help to match adoptive families with expectant mothers. Facilitators typically charge the adoptive parents a large sum for the phone number or a meeting with a birth mother. However, most are not licensed to provide counseling or prepare legal work, and all other services would be referred out to other local professionals, who each charge their own fees.
While facilitators typically provide only the matching service, adoption agencies generally provide most adoption services “in-house,” meaning that they employ social workers to perform the home study, create parent profiles, locate birth mothers, counsel birth parents, terminate parental rights, and recommend attorneys to finalize the adoption. Some states require an agency’s involvement, but many adoptive parents choose to adopt through an agency because they prefer this more standard and structured process.
However, most adoption agencies are private businesses and require a nonrefundable payment at sign-up to pay for each of the services they will provide throughout the adoption process. Also, being a private business means that some agencies promote a particular perspective or point of view. Some agencies are religious or affiliated with a certain religion, some push for open adoption and visitation agreements, and some require additional classes and trainings for adoptive parents beyond what is state-mandated.
If you are seeking more control over the adoption process, adoption attorneys can often tailor and personalize your adoption plan. For example, full-service adoption attorneys will often screen birth mothers for adoptive families, assist families in planning logistics and the hospital delivery plan, terminate parental rights, help reach an agreed upon level of openness between adoptive parents and the birth parents, draft customized post-placement agreements, mediate any issues and manage the post placement communication, etc. Hiring a full-service adoption law firm allows for both birth parents and adoptive parents to specify any particular wants and needs in the adoption.
Hiring an adoption attorney has many benefits in the adoption process. Because they should be familiar with each state’s adoption laws, they can choose which state involved has the most favorable adoption laws based on the best interests of their clients. They are able to submit the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children documents to court and get everyone home as quickly as possible.
Essentially, a full service program with an adoption attorney means working with each party through pre-birth, birth, and post-birth of the adopted baby. Attorneys often utilize a network of social workers and professionals in different states, if counseling or other additional support services are required.
When deciding to adopt, there are many different routes to consider. If you have more questions about the process or how AdoptHelp’s program can help you, please contact us here or call our office at 800-637-7999.