Thursday, October 12, 2023

Navigating the Path of Private Adoption: A Comprehensive Guide

Private adoption is a profound and life-changing journey that connects loving families with children who need a forever home. In this article, we will discuss the intricacies of private adoption and explore the role of facilitators in this process. Our aim is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of private adoption, from the initial steps to the legal aspects involved.

What is Private Adoption?

Private adoption, often known as independent adoption or direct parental placement, is a non-agency adoption method in which prospective adoptive parents directly connect with birth parents to adopt a child. Unlike agency adoption, private adoption typically does not involve a licensed adoption agency as the intermediary. Instead, unlicensed attorneys and social workers assist with the process. This is a unique path to building a family, and it allows for a personal connection between the birth and adoptive families. This approach can potentially be a positive experience for the parties involved; however, it does come with risks and the outcome is not promised.

The Role of Facilitators

Facilitators are often involved in matching the parties in private adoption. Their sole purpose is to act as a match maker between the birth parents and adoptive parents. Working with a facilitator is much different than working with a full-service agency. It is often the case that facilitators are unlicensed and unregulated intermediaries. Many services such as counseling and legal assistance must be outsourced because the facilitator is unable to provide them. Because many states ban unlicensed facilitators, including Virginia and California, our office does not recommend working with them. (Law and McDonough, 2014).

Adoption Agency vs. Facilitators

It is often hard to know if an adoption entity is a licensed agency or a facilitator.  If in doubt, look for evidence that the entity has a license from their state to provide adoption services.

Working with a licensed adoption agency provides numerous benefits, including legal expertise, thorough evaluation, matching services, ongoing support, and accountability. These advantages help ensure a smoother and more secure adoption process for all parties. When considering private adoption, it is advisable to prioritize the expertise and services provided by reputable adoption agencies and attorneys over unlicensed facilitators to make the journey as positive and legally secure as possible.

Agencies have well-established networks and databases for matching birth parents with adoptive families. They also ensure that every step of the adoption process complies with the legal requirements, protecting the rights and interests of all parties involved. On the other hand, unlicensed facilitators may lack the legal expertise and oversight to ensure that the adoption is conducted in full compliance with the law. Additionally, adoption agencies offer comprehensive support throughout the entire adoption journey, from pre-placement counseling to post-placement services. They provide resources, guidance, and emotional support to both birth and adoptive parents. Unlicensed facilitators may not have the capacity to offer the same level of ongoing support, leaving adoptive parents without crucial assistance during the emotional and logistical challenges of adoption.

Steps in Private Adoption

  1. Initial Consultation: Prospective adoptive parents often begin by consulting with an attorney experienced in adoption. They will discuss their adoption goals, preferences, and expectations. Adoption laws vary by state, so you need an attorney licensed in your state.
  2. Home Study: A home study is required, where a social worker evaluates the adoptive family's home and life circumstances to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for the child.
  3. Matching Process: Birth parents and adoptive parents most often find each other through word of mouth. In Virginia and many other states, adoptive parents can lawfully use licensed entities to connect with birth parents, such as AdoptMatch - Find Adoptive Parents, Adoption Agencies and Attorneys or Adoptimist Meet Families Ready To Adopt A Baby | Adoption Profiles ( Attorneys or unlicensed facilitators are prohibited.
  4. Legal Proceedings: The attorney guides both parties through the legal requirements, which include parental consent or relinquishment, counseling, and the creation of an adoption plan. Both birth parent and adoptive parent will have separate representation. Parental rights are usually terminated first. Then, the adoption is finalized in the child’s new name.
  5. Post-Placement Support: Both before and after the adoption is finalized, we recommend adoption competent counseling for birth parents.  The goal is to provide resources to the birth parent to assist them with the transition. Additionally, many states, such as Virginia, have enforceable agreements which are negotiated between the birth parent and the adoptive parent (PACCAS). These PACCAS govern the exchange of pictures and updates concerning the child, and sometimes, visitation.

Legal Aspects of Private Adoption

To locate an adoption competent attorney, the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys has a website which lists attorneys by state: Home- Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys ( These attorneys have been carefully vetted and have extensive experience in this unique practice of law.

Private adoption involves intricate legal procedures to safeguard the rights and interests of all parties. It's crucial to work with experienced adoption attorneys who understand the specific laws and regulations in your state. This ensures that the adoption process is compliant with local legal requirements.

In conclusion, private adoption is a deeply emotional and rewarding journey. Choosing whether to work with a licensed adoption agency or attorney versus an unlicensed facilitator is one of the crucial decisions prospective adoptive parents face. If you're considering private adoption, consult with experienced professionals to guide you through this life-changing experience.


Law, K. S., & McDonough, T. M. (2014, April 1). The Role of Facilitators in Adoption. National Council for Adoption.


Prepared by Alyssa Howes, Paralegal, and Karen S. Law, Esquire, of Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC © 2023


    This web site and the information contained within have been prepared by the 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, 2023.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

A Single Parent's Journey of Intercountry Adoption


In our practice of adoption law, we have heard countless stories of clients who inspire us with their resilience and determination. One such remarkable story is that of Amy, a brave single parent who embarked on an extraordinary journey of international adoption. Amy opened her heart and home to two children from a country in the Middle East. Adopting internationally is a major life decision that comes with both challenges and rewards. It requires navigating complex legal processes, embracing cultural differences, and having unwavering commitment. Amy accepted these challenges, motivated by the desire to provide a loving home for a child in need.

We had the opportunity to interview Amy about her experience, we discussed the joys, trials, and lessons learned throughout her journey. Her story serves as a testament to the compassion and dedication embodied by adoptive parents. Through Amy's story, we aim to inspire and educate others, shedding light on the profound impact adoption can have on the lives of both parent and child.

Amy’s decision to adopt internationally was deeply rooted in her upbringing and the experiences that shaped her worldview. Amy grew up overseas as the daughter of a diplomat, and with a mother who dedicated her time to volunteering at orphanages. Early in her life, Amy witnessed firsthand the plight of countless children without loving homes. This experience weighed heavily on her heart and ignited a desire to make a difference and provide a loving family for a child in need.

The journey of international adoption can be complex, requiring collaboration with an adoption agency to navigate the complicated legal processes. This is required for every intercountry adoption by the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Finding an accredited agency to supervise the process can be challenging. Amy’s experience of working with an adoption agency to build her family was a positive one. The agency provided invaluable support and guidance, particularly in navigating the U.S. side of the adoption process. While the overseas aspect of the adoption was more challenging, Amy appreciated the agency's realistic approach, they managed her expectations and made her aware of the potential obstacles. The agency's responsiveness and dedication to keeping her informed every step of the way provided her with a sense of comfort and reassurance during the often emotional and uncertain process.

Preparing yourself and your home for the arrival of adopted children requires careful consideration and cultural sensitivity. However, for Amy, the process was somewhat easier because she shared a cultural background with her children, having originally come from the same country. This shared heritage not only eased potential cultural barriers but also facilitated a deeper connection based on common language and religion. Despite the inevitable adjustments that come with any major life change, the familiar cultural foundation created a solid platform for Amy and her children to build their relationship upon. Now that Amy and her children are home in the United States, they have focused on doing life as a family. Amy has enrolled the children in school, placing the children in classes with special resources for non-native English speakers. She works remotely to be available for her children after school. The children needed routine immunizations and dental care. As the attachment grew, she introduced the children to extended family and friends.

Our office worked with Amy to finalize her adoption in Virginia, which is required under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 to give children United States Citizenship. We have also filed for proof of United States citizenship for the children with USCIS. The children should soon be full United States citizens.

Amy's inspiring journey of international adoption as a single parent showcases the profound impact that one person can have on the lives of others. Her story exemplifies the importance of creating a nurturing and supportive environment for children who have endured challenging circumstances.

 Karen S. Law

Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC | (703) 723 – 4385

Prepared by Alyssa Howes, paralegal, with assistance from Karen S. Law


    This web site 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, 2023.