Adoption

Adoption Attorneys versus Adoption Agencies

Understanding the difference will help you make the right decision for you.

Most prospective birth mothers and prospective adoptive parents have heard of adoption agencies, but did you also know, in most states, you can choose to work with an adoption attorney instead? There are some similarities and also some differences between an adoption attorney and an adoption agency which we will explain below. Once you know the facts, you will be prepared to make the best decision for your personal situation.

ADOPTION ATTORNEYS
PRIVATE / INDEPENDENT ADOPTION

What to Expect:

Consult with an experienced adoption attorney to ensure a “good fit.” Unlike some agencies, attorneys are not restrictive and will accept all persons that wish to and are suitable to adopt, including single, same-sex, non-married couples, and “older” hopeful parents.

Extensive education and training is not required in order for you to move forward with your adoption plan. At your request, and when deemed appropriate, your attorney can direct you to helpful materials and resources that will educate you on topics that are of interest.

Some paperwork, including but not limited to a Confidential Questionnaire and Retainer Agreement, will be needed at the outset of your attorney/client relationship, however, extensive paperwork is not needed.

Home study services will be provided by an adoption agency or a private licensed social worker (depending on state law), not your attorney. Your attorney will make recommendations and, when your home study report is complete, you will receive a completed report from your social worker.

The creation of your profile will be done “in house” with you writing the profile and selecting photos and your attorney will review, provide feedback, and help finalize your personal profile. Although not required, for an additional fee, you may choose to hire a third party to complete your profile which your attorney will send to expectant parents for their review and consideration.

When working with a full-service law firm like Adoptions First, through their extensive nationwide advertising campaigns, outreach, and networking, expectant birth mothers from around the country will reach out seeking assistance, including but not limited to selecting hopeful adoptive parents for their baby. If state law allows, your attorney can provide matching services.

If you have already identified and connected with an expecting mother, you may only need an adoption attorney to complete the legal steps which may save you money over using an adoption agency, which provides and charges for services you may not need.

Contact between adoptive parents and expectant parents during a match is essential. Depending on the type of adoption (closed, semi-open, open), the level of contact will vary, but is important. At the request of the adoptive parents or birth parents, some phone calls may be supervised by your attorney, but this is not required nor is it encouraged. Supervised calls may leave an expectant parent feeling as though they cannot be trusted with their words. All relationships are built on trust and the relationship you have with your birth parents will be one of the most important relationships you will ever have with someone. It’s important that such a relationship be given the respect it deserves.

Assessing the level of risk at every stage of the process is crucial. If there are concerns or a heightened level of risk, your attorney will discuss their findings and review options with you, including proceeding or terminating that intended adoption. The choice will be yours. You are in control of your adoption.

“Counseling” for adoptive parents and birth parents will be provided by your attorney and their experienced staff. While most attorneys do not have a licensed social worker on staff, in many cases, law firms such as with Adoptions First have successfully guided thousands of adoptive and birth parents through the adoption process from beginning to end. Support services are available to everyone before and after placement. If you would like to receive counseling from a licensed professional, you may hire someone privately or consider working with an agency.

A hospital plan, created by the expecting mother and your or her attorney will be sent to the hospital’s social worker. The attorney will interface with the hospital staff, ensure everyone is aware of the expecting mother’s wishes, share your preferences, ensure releases are signed so medical information can be exchanged with ease, and, when the time comes, assist with the discharge. As your attorney may be hundreds of miles and/or states away from where the baby is born, the local adoption team will be available should someone need to physically be at the hospital or meet with you or the birth parents.

Personalized care and attention draws many expectant mothers and adoptive parents to choose independent adoption. Unlike large adoption agencies that may work with hundreds of clients at a time, smaller law firms work with a select number of clients, ensuring everyone receives the attention they deserve.

One deciding factor that influences many prospective parents is that with adoption attorneys, especially a firm such as Adoptions First, they notice there is more emphasis on the personal relationships and care given to the expectant mother and to the adoptive families.

Your attorney will work hand in hand with other adoption professionals retained (ie. legal counsel and/or an agency for the birth parents) to ensure the process runs smoothly. The attorneys will gather all of the necessary paperwork, including but not limited to consents to the adoption so they can process ICPC, file your adoption with the Court, terminate parental rights, and ultimately finalize your adoption.

ADOPTION AGENCIES
AGENCY ADOPTION

What to Expect:

Screen adoptive parents prior to accepting them into their program. Some agencies are restrictive not accepting single, same-sex, non-married, or “older” hopeful parents. It’s important to select an agency that shares your core values and beliefs.

Provide education and required training to adoptive parents prior to them being approved to adopt. Education about transracial adoptive families, openness in adoption, raising a special needs child, and how to prepare your children at home for their new sibling are some of the courses that will be available. The training you receive will be tailored to your life and the child you hope to adopt.

Extensive paperwork will be requested and gathered. The documents requested will be utilized for the approval process as well as your home study.

Home study services will be completed “in house.”

The creation of your profile may be done “in house,” or you may be asked to hire a third party to complete your profile which will be given to expectation parents for their review and consideration.

Through advertising, outreach, and networking, expectant birth mothers will look to adoption agencies to match them with hopeful adoptive parents. Some adoption agencies will advertise only in the state in which they operate, narrowing the number of expecting parents they serve, so this is something to ask about when choosing an agency.

If you have already identified and connected with an expecting mother, you may only need an adoption attorney to complete the legal steps which may save you money over using an adoption agency, which provides and charges for services you may not need.

Contact between adoptive parents and expectant parents during a match is essential. Depending on the type of adoption (closed, semi-open, open) the level of contact will vary but contact is so important. Some agencies insist that all phone calls be supervised by the case worker which may leave expectant parents feeling, well, supervised. This has led many expecting parents to seek a private, independent adoption, where they feel they are trusted and also have more control over their adoption.

Assessing the level of risk at every stage of the process is crucial. If the risks are deemed too high in a particular case, the agency may terminate the intended adoption, even if the adoptive parents wish to see it through.

Counseling for adoptive parents and birth parents will be provided by licensed social workers on staff and there is no additional fee. Such counseling is available to everyone before and after placement.

A hospital plan, created by the expecting mom and her case worker will be sent to the hospital’s social worker. If the case worker will be at the hospital, she/he will interface with the hospital staff, ensure everyone is aware of the expecting mother’s wishes, share your preferences, ensure releases are signed so medical information can be exchanged with ease, and, when the time comes, assist with the discharge.

Adoption agencies can be costly. To properly staff an agency with licensed social workers, cover overhead and licensing requirements, and find potential birth mothers, large agencies may spend tens of thousands of dollars each month. Those expenses are passed along to clients which may increase the cost of your adoption. If you do not need all of the services offered by an agency, you may wish to consider working with an attorney.

Many adoption agencies have a set fee that is significantly higher than what one may pay for an attorney. Prospective parents may not realize there will be additional fees for services and expenses after being matched with birth parents. For example, you will need to retain an adoption attorney to handle the legal aspect of your adoption, including the finalization. The costs will vary depending on where the adoption will be finalized since both you and the birth parents will likely need legal representation in that state. An attorney will be better equipped to navigate the nuances of your adoption and ensure everything is being done to ensure you are protected, both emotionally and financially.

Before you make a decision, be sure to really research any agency or attorney that you are thinking of working with and speak with them. They should be licensed, ethical, and provide references freely to help you succeed. Seek references from other families who have worked with them and trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right.

Like many other decisions you need to make as a family, for your family, it’s beneficial to put in the time and effort to be as informed and educated as possible for the best outcome.

Adoptions First is available 24/7 to answer questions and assist with additional information for any birth mothers or prospective adoptive parents. Learn more by calling or texting Renee today at 646-988-6281.

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