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Choosing Between Adoption Agency Alternatives

Kathryn Patricelli, MA

Although there are a variety of options to choose from when selecting an adoption agency, a consideration of the benefits and problems associated with each option can help adoptive parents to choose between them.

A good first step for adoptive parents to take is to consider which of the options feels most appropriate. For example, some adoptive parents feel that hiring a lawyer or facilitator to locate a pregnant woman seeking to adopt out her child is akin to "buying" a child and too close to a business transaction for comfort. Adoptive parents who feel this way can obviously cross lawyer and facilitator options off their lists.

Adoptive parents' choices should also be shaped by how involved they wish to be with the details of conducting the adoption and how much support they hope to derive from the agency they choose. State and private adoption agencies will handle all aspects of the adoption independently of the adoptive parents. They also have social workers and other staff on hand to assist the adoptive family both before and after an adoption takes place. The staff will also assist the birth parents prior to the adoption. In contrast, working with a lawyer or adoption facilitator means that the adoptive family will be much more intimately involved in the entire process: screening and hiring the facilitator, advertising for, meeting, and screening birth parents, hiring a social worker to do the home study, etc. With a lawyer or facilitator-assisted adoption, a social worker will be involved for the home study process, but will likely only provide counseling or facilitation if contracted at additional cost to the clients.

Decisions about money and time need to be considered as well. While all adoptions are expensive, with the possible exception of state adoptions, lawyer and facilitator adoptions are the most expensive of all. The extra cost may pay off with the adoption of a younger child than might otherwise be possible, in a shorter amount of time, but there are no guarantees that this will occur.

In the end, the decision of which adoption agency option to go with must be one that feels most right to the adoptive parents and which provides for the level of service or personal initiative and involvement that they wish to have during the adoption process.