When you adopt domestically, you will always need to work with an adoption agency. The adoption agency will conduct your home-study. They must be licensed in your state and the home-study must comply with your state standards. Should you choose to adopt privately, often called a direct parental placement, you will locate the birth mother directly. That connection is usually made through word of mouth. From there, both you and the expectant parent will have legal representation and the expectant parent will receive counseling. A direct parental placement is usually more open between the parties and less expensive.
The other option is for an adoption agency to locate the expectant parent. This could be the agency which conducted your home-study or it could be a different agency, termed the placing agency. The selection of a placing agency is where many people get into trouble.
It is critically important to select a reputable state licensed, COA accredited agency as your placing agency. Anyone can open up shop and make up a cute adoption friendly sounding name. But, often it is difficult to distinguish between a state-licensed and COA accredited agency versus an agency that does not offer you all those protections. This article published in the National Council for Adoption periodical by myself and my co-author Teresa M. McDonough, ACSW, will give you that critical information. You can find the whole article at the link below.
From Adoption Advocate NO. 70:
"Today, many expectant parents considering adoption connect with prospective adoptive parents through out-of-state entities—or facilitators—that they find online. Too often, these entities are unlicensed and unregulated intermediaries; they act as matchmakers only, not full-service agencies. The expectant parents receive no face-to-face counseling, and may not be apprised of the laws in their state or the state where the prospective adoptive parents reside. When the child is born, there is often a scramble to locate an adoption attorney or licensed adoption agency representative who can then meet with the expectant parent(s) for the first time and begin the counseling and legal processes; these vital services must be outsourced, because the independent facilitator is not licensed in their state and is therefore legally unable to provide these services. There can also be confusion as to which state’s laws apply, because many states prohibit fees paid to unlicensed entities, meaning that adoptions arranged by facilitators cannot be finalized. Sometimes the placement does not go through, and both prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents can experience heartache and financial loss with no follow-up support services. Even when placements do succeed and are finalized, the lack of post-adoption support services can undermine the likelihood of adoptive family success as well as the birth parent’s long-term well-being.
A facilitator is typically a person or an organization whose only task is to make an introduction between expectant parents and adoptive parents in exchange for a large, nonrefundable fee paid in advance. In some states, these facilitators are regulated, but in most states, they are prohibited. Expectant parents considering adoption as well as prospective adoptive parents should exercise great caution, as it can be difficult to determine whether an entity is licensed as an adoption agency or acting solely as a facilitator.
Some facilitators use terms that imply they are offering legal services, when in fact they are acting only as facilitators. A facilitator might even be a “licensed agency” in the state where their office is located. However, if they work with expectant parents and adoptive parents nationwide, they can then claim to act as a facilitator in all other states. This language is deliberately misleading and confusing for people seeking to make an adoption plan or adopt children. In addition, most facilitators are for-profit entities."
Recommendations Given the Increasing Use of Facilitators from the Adoption Advocate NO. 70:
"Better enforcement of existing laws:
Advertising disclosure laws:
Research and due diligence on the part of adoptive parents:
Full compliance with the ICPC:
Expectant parents must know their rights:
Improved oversight of adoption fees:Read the full article about the Role of Facilitators in Adoption at the National Council for Adoption website
We hope that this blog has been informative, and you are now able to start your research for representation with a better idea of how to start and what to look for.
Drafted by Karen S. Law and Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016