Disclaimer: The steps I describe in this series are the steps we took toward adoption. This is our perspective on the steps to adoption.
There are many avenues to private domestic adoption. I would say the most common is to use an adoption agency. So what is an adoption agency?
Macmillian Dictionary defines an adoption agency as “an organization or business that helps to find children for people to adopt”. While this is true, there is much more to an adoption agency than defined by this definition.
Adoption agencies connect prospective mothers who want to place their children for adoption with potential families.
The process often times looks like this:
1. Expectant mother contacts the agency notifying them of her intention to pursue adoption.
2. The adoption agency then gathers information about the mother and verifies pregnancy.
3. Next the agency would send the expectant mother potential families that fit her criteria.
4. The expectant mother would review the families and choose a few families to speak with or she could choose a family.
However, before these steps take place the adoption agency works with the family to complete their homestudy and create their adoption profile (these topics to be discussed in future steps to adoption posts). An adoption agency can either be a full service agency or simply a facilitating agency.
A full service agency means they have staff (staff could also mean on retainer) to perform all tasks associated with the adoption such as a lawyer. A facilitating agency means that they match expectant mothers and adoptive families but do not have staff to fulfill all steps of the adoption though they most likely will recommend professionals but you as the adoptive family would ultimately decide who you would work with to complete the adoption steps.
Adoption agencies also provide counseling to potential expectant mothers and serve as a middle man between the parties. Another key difference about agencies is they are licensed by the state. Both full service and facilitating agencies are licensed.
Another option for you when considering private adoption is using a facilitator. A facilitator as defined by US Legal is “an individual who acts as a middleman between birth parents and prospective adoptive parents in arranging independent adoptions, often for a fee.” Please note that facilitators are not licensed and some states prohibit facilitators so please check your state laws if you decide to use a facilitator. Some people refer to facilitators as consultants, but a true consultant only offers advice during the adoption process but does not match expectant parents with prospective adoptive parents.
Facilitators do much of the same thing as an agency but again are not licensed and do not provide any services other than matching the two parties.
Adoption agencies will charge a fee for their services. If they are a full service agency, expect their fees to be higher as you are paying for lawyers as well. If they are a facilitating agency then there fee will be smaller however, be prepared to pay for lawyers, homestudy, profile and other items separate from their fee.
Facilitators charge a fee as well. You can also be expected to pay lawyer fees, homestudy, profile and potentially agency fees as well depending on the match that is made. Sometimes facilitators work with adoption agencies to make matches so you could have to pay an agency fee once there is a match.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. The most important thing is to do your research. Ask questions and then ask more questions. Figure out what situation will fit your family best in ultimately bringing your child home.