Adoption Services: What Does an Adoption Agency Do?

There’s a lot that goes into adoption. Whether you’re a potential birth parent or a hopeful adoptive parent, understanding the ins and outs of the process can be difficult, especially when you’re attempting to choose an adoption professional.

There are a variety of adoption professionals out there — adoption agencies, adoption facilitators, adoption law firms and more. It’s easy to get confused about who does what, and who you should ultimately choose to complete your adoption.

No matter who you choose, though, you’ll want to make sure your professional prioritizes all of the adoption services you’ll need. This may sound like common sense, but not everyone in the adoption world offers the same services. You’ll also want to make sure that the adoption services they are offering are top quality.

When doing your research, you will want to ask any adoption professional you talk to whether or not they offer the following adoption services and benefits:

Adoption Counseling and Education

Not only can adoption be confusing for a newcomer, it’s also an emotional time. Ideally, your family and friends will provide a good support system for you, whether you’re thinking of placing a baby for adoption or hoping to grow your family through the process. However, there may be times when that’s not enough; your family and friends are probably not adoption veterans. This is where your agency kicks in. You’ll want a personal adoption specialist to make sure you’re doing okay and that you understand everything that’s happening.

For a pregnant woman considering adoption, this counseling may come in the form of helping her decide whether or not adoption is the right decision for her. An adoption specialist should never tell an expectant mother what to do about her pregnancy; he or she is simply there to help potential birth parents work through their situation and come to the best decision for themselves and their babies. When a woman does choose adoption, the agency should provide 24/7 adoption support; pregnancy isn’t contained to business hours only. You’ll also want to check into what post-adoption services will be available to birth parents and adoptive families.

For hopeful adoptive parents, an adoption specialist should be available to guide them through every step of the process, from paperwork to understanding the matching process to how to communicate with birth parents. When an adoptive parent calls their agency, their point of contact should always be their adoption specialist.

Matching Process

The matching process is the one by which birth parents choose an adoptive family for their child. It is possible that you’ve already identified prospective adoptive parents or a birth mother to adopt from, but if not, you’ll want to make sure the adoption assistance your professional offers includes a matching service. They should also invest in adoption advertising in order to attract more adoptive families and prospective birth parents alike. The more options you have in the matching process, the better you’ll feel about your eventual decision.

Different adoption programs will probably operate differently, but you’ll need to be sure the matching system your professional has in place puts a high importance on birth parents being able to select the adoptive family. If a prospective birth mother cares about where the family lives, what kind of community they live in, their traditions or the amount of children they have, she should be able to specify all of that. She has chosen adoption to give her baby the best life imaginable; it’s her right to feel assured that the family she’s placed with is capable of giving that.

However, adoptive couples should still get to play a role in matching with a birth mom. While the birth parents ultimately choose the adoptive family, the adoption agency should allow adoptive parents to determine what they’re comfortable with in terms of adoption situations. They’ll then create an adoptive family profile that will tell birth parents about themselves and their lives, complete with photos and any information that makes their family unique. Some agencies even help adoptive families create video profiles, which give birth parents a better sense of who they are and why they would be a good family for an adopted child.

Financial Protection

Financial support is very important for all parties in an adoption, but it’s going to look very different depending on whether you’re a birth parent or an adoptive parent.

For birth parents, adoption should be free. Not only should a birth mom never have to pay for any adoption service, but she should be able to get financial adoption help in terms of medical, legal, living and other pregnancy-related expenses. The adoptive family should cover this, and your adoption professional should help to facilitate this. Choosing adoption as a birth parent is already an immense sacrifice; birth parents shouldn’t encounter any financial difficulties because of it. The adoption agency should help prospective birth mothers make sure they are completely covered during their pregnancies.

Most prospective adoptive parents probably already know they’re going to have to pay for an adoption. Depending on the kind of adoption they’re pursuing, that has the potential to be expensive. Before giving their hard-earned money to any adoption professional, hopeful parents will want to learn what will happen in the event of a disruption, should they experience one.

An adoption disruption is emotionally heartbreaking, and adoptive parents understandably want to make sure their professional doesn’t take advantage of that. Some agencies provide “rollover” protection, which will transfer adoption funds into another adoption situation automatically, without giving adoptive parents the chance to reevaluate either their adoption professional or their adoption decision. Some don’t give any money back at all. Adoptive parents will want to choose an adoption professional who will immediately refund their money so that they can choose how to proceed.

Don’t assume that an adoption professional is going to handle a disruption in a way that minimizes the blow; make sure you choose one that comes with a little insurance.

Legal Services

In any form of adoption, you’ll need adoption assistance from an attorney at some point. They’ll help to make sure everything is done legally and above the table in an adoption. Birth parents’ rights must be legally terminated, and the adoptive parents will have to complete certain steps to legally finalize the adoption.

An attorney will, of course, be able to provide these adoption services, but likely won’t provide many (if any) other adoption services. Adoption agencies, on the other hand, frequently have trusted adoption attorneys they provide to those that work with them in addition to their other services.

Contact Mediation

Adoptions are not the closed, secretive affairs they once were. Openness in an adoption benefits all members of the adoption triad — adoptive family, birth parents and adoptee — and you’ll want a professional that can help you facilitate that openness. It can be hard to know how to talk to the adoptive family if you’re a birth parent or the birth family if you’re an adoptive parent. Your adoption professional should help you in this process, whether it’s acting as a go-between for exchanging information or giving you advice on how to best communicate.

Screening Services

It’s very important that the adoption professional you work with have a screening process for both adoptive families and birth parents. Everyone should be fully committed to adoption. It’s important that the birth mother and her baby be safe and healthy, and it’s important that the adoptive family have a safe environment for a new child. A thorough screening process employed by an adoption professional will help to protect everyone in the process.

Adoption itself is an emotional experience; any professional you choose should, of course, be prepared to help you adopt, help you place your baby for adoption, or help you decide what’s best for your family. Just make sure that the actual adoption services you’re getting are going to be tailored to you instead of the professional’s own gains.