Agency Adoption or Private Adoption?
The adoption process and the time lines often vary depending on whether you choose an agency adoption or a private adoption. The process, laws, fees, and protections can be so different that it is important for you to understand both types.
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An agency child adoption is when the placement is arranged through a child adoption agency that has been carefully screened by the state so that a full range of services is available to both you and the birth parents.
With a private adoption, the finding of a birth mother, the matching, and the ending of parental rights are done with a person operating as the intermediary (the go-between). Whether this person is an attorney, physician, nurse, friend, child adoption facilitator, or referral service, it will still be a private adoption.
What are other issues of an Agency Adoption?
With an agency adoption, a licensed adoption agency is helping you with the identification of a birth mother and child, matching you with a child, assisting in the placement of a child, and/or helping in the ending of parental rights and the finalization of the adoption.
Many states have one process for an agency adoption and a different process for a private adoption. For example, since adoption agencies are monitored and licensed by the state, the process and time lines for the ending of parental rights are frequently shorter than with a private adoption where there is no oversight authority.
A licensed adoption agency will carefully screen all birth parents and provide you with a complete medical history. The agency can help the birth mother find and obtain prenatal care and then coordinate the birth mother's medical and hospital care. They can also keep in touch with the birth mother and birth father and, by providing needed support and counseling, lower the chance of the birth parents changing their mind before the placement and reduce the possibility of a disruption after placement. They can provide you and the birth parents with all the after-care support services so often needed for an adoption to succeed.
Agencies can be state or county operated or they can be private (either religiously based or non-affiliated). These private agencies can be for-profit or non-profit. Based on my 40 years of experience the most important variable is for you to make sure the agency is licensed. If they are non-profit that is also probably to your benefit. In order to make sure an agency is licensed all you have to do is ask them for their license number and the phone number of the licensing authority. Then call the licensing authority to confirm the agency is licensed and is in good standing. Every state has a licensing authority and special adoption contact to answer your questions.
What are other issues of a Private Child Adoption?
Overall, private adoptions are much more risky for both the birth parents and the adopting family than an agency adoption. For example, in a private adoption the adopting family may cover the birth mother's living and medical expenses only to have the birth mother change her mind, raise the child herself, and the adopting family will lose their money and any fees paid to an attorney.
Additionally, in a private adoption needed support and follow-up services are all too often left out of the picture leading to higher adoption disruption rates for private adoptions. While your attorney, doctor, or friend probably has your best interest at heart, their help and advice can be problematic. Again, based on my experience with both private and agency adoptions, it is strongly recommended you work with a licensed agency and avoid the private adoption route.
Do not forget that even in a private adoption you will most likely need to contact an adoption agency since most states require an evaluation of you and your home (called a Home Study). This Home Study needs to be completed before you take custody of a child.
Where can I find additional Child Adoption Resources?
For additional help with an adoption agency adoption visit the link Selecting an adoption Agency. You can also find a list of adoption agencies in your state and neighboring states at the link Domestic Adoption Agencies.
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