Searching the internet, you may have seen references to “private” or “independent” adoptions. Click the link, and you’ll find lawyers and “facilitators,” who promise to assist in the placement of your child without the help of a licensed, certified agency.
That’s one of the biggest differences right there. Independent adoptions don’t use agencies, which are verified and regulated by State governments, as a mediator between birth and adoptive parents.
But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Do you really need an adoption agency to find a loving family for your child?
How Does Independent Adoption Work?
In some states, you don’t. But before we continue, please note that some places do not recognize the “independent” process as a legal form of adoption. In Connecticut and Delaware, independent adoptions are illegal. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and New York allow them.
In essence, an independent adoption is arranged by prospective adoptive and birth parents on their own. First, you’ll have to find each other. Usually, people who want to adopt will run ads in their local paper, on online databases or use an adoption facilitator to view birth parents (kind of like an online dating service). Birth parents can use the same resources to find prospective adoptive families. Sometimes friends refer parties to one another.
After reaching out, you can meet one another, talk and discuss your concerns. If it feels like a good match, a home study must be performed to verify the adoptive family’s fitness. The prospective adoptive parents will then begin the lengthy process of receiving approval from the government.
Other families who want to adopt will work through an attorney, who can locate a prospective birth mother and complete and file all the necessary paperwork for them.
But lawyers won’t cover the necessary emotional support and guidance that a licensed agency can offer. Facilitators won’t even try.
Adoption Agencies Are Still Necessary
Adoption attorneys and facilitators still have to “outsource” many necessary tasks to licensed agencies or social workers.
For example, home studies are required by law. A licensed professional enters the prospective adoptive family’s home, observing their interactions and performing rigorous background checks, including criminal and child abuse record screenings.
This is a big downside for a prospective adoptive family. Since facilitators and lawyers can’t do a lot on their own, overall costs will be higher after outside help is contracted. And facilitators will have to hire attorneys to file legal documents, adding to a family’s expenses.
Finally, independent facilitators won’t offer counseling or emotional support. That kind of compassionate help is only available at adoption agencies.
In the end, an independent adoption might entail more middle-men than working with an agency.
Benefits Of Using An Adoption Agency
1. It’s Much Easier
This is a given. In a private adoption, you’ll have to do a lot of the work, finding a prospective family for your child and negotiating the type of adoption (open or closed? Learn more here), on your own. That’s true even if the prospective adoptive family hires an attorney.
2. Higher Standards
Adoption agencies are licensed by States to handle everything involved in a proper placement: legal work, administrative filings, social work, ongoing counseling.
We’re certified and held to a high standard of ethics and professionalism. All in order to ensure that your baby’s adoption is as smooth and painless as it can be.
Facilitators are almost completely unregulated, and there’s no guarantee that they have your child’s best interests at heart.
Lawyers are often intelligent, well-educated, compassionate people. Attorneys must comply with a set of ethical standards outlined by the American Bar Association. Some lawyers are also members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and will adhere to even stricter standards. But they still can’t match the standards of a licensed adoption agency.
3. Compassionate Guidance
The cornerstone of our work lies in counseling. We want everyone, birth parents and adoptive families alike, to feel comfortable in their decisions.
We want you to be fully-informed of your options and we’re always willing to hear your concerns. Never hesitate to bring up a fear or worry; we will never judge you.
Many independent facilitators claim that private adoption allows people to have more “control” over an adoption plan. That’s just false. If you choose to work with Adoptions From The Heart, your needs and those of your baby are our only priority. You’re in control.
What If An Adoption Lawyer Calls Themselves “Private”?
In their marketing materials, some attorneys refer to themselves as “private adoption lawyers.” By using the word “private,” they’re not saying that they are an agency.
Instead, they’re differentiating themselves from lawyers who work for or assist a State’s government in facilitating adoptions. You might be familiar with “Foster Care” programs, which accept children from families who want to improve their own situations before parenting (or can legally remove children from unsafe homes) and place them with loving families. This is “public” adoption, because it’s run by the government.
A “private” adoption lawyer simply works with private individuals, who have chosen adoption of their own accord.
What If I’ve Already Found The Right Prospective Adoptive Family?
That’s great and we can help!
Many independent adoptions make their way to the certified professionals at Adoptions From The Heart. We perform home studies, offer pre and post-placement counseling, and prepare legal documents for many birth parents and prospective adoptive families who found eachother without our help. Learn more about how we can help your private adoption move along here.