Adoption agencies aren’t the only professional that you may be considering. Depending on what you’re looking for in your adoption experience, an adoption law center can be another option for you. But, there are some other factors that you should consider before you get started. Keep reading to learn more.
What is an Adoption Law Center?
Adoption law centers are organizations owned by licensed attorneys. While the name sounds similar, they actually differ from adoption law firms, as they typically don’t provide any of the legal services needed to complete an adoption. In fact, many adoption law centers are actually most similar to adoption facilitators, meaning their services tend to focus solely on matching prospective birth mothers and adoptive families. Therefore, an adoption law center will have to refer you to another adoption professional for other adoption‐related services and to complete the legal side of your adoption.
Adoption Law Centers and Adoption Agencies
The services of an adoption law center actually can actually vary. Many operate like adoption facilitators and are focused solely on matching services. These centers can sometimes be beneficial if your main goal is to try to find an adoption opportunity as quickly as possible. However, once a match has been made, the adoption law center will typically pull out of the process, at which point families will need to contact another professional for the additional services needed to finish their adoption. If a prospective birth mother in this scenario doesn’t receive the counseling and support she needs and ends up changing her mind about adoption later in the process, there is often very little financial protection for the adoptive family, and they will need to start the process over with the adoption law center or another professional.
Other adoption law centers may provide more services and operate more similarly to an adoption agency. However, keep in mind that adoption law centers are not licensed in the same way that adoption agencies are. This means that adoptive families and prospective birth mothers won’t have the same safety net as they would with an adoption agency, because there is no regular, objective review of the organization’s practices to ensure they adhere to important legal and ethical standards.
Adoption law centers may be a good choice for hopeful adoptive parents who have large budgets, are able to work with multiple adoption professionals and don’t need financial protection from adoption disruptions. Families who choose to work with an adoption law center should be prepared to coordinate certain services, like retaining an attorney and providing professional counseling for the prospective birth mother, on their own.
Disadvantages of Adoption Law Centers
Although adoption law centers can be a good option for some families with high budgets who are looking to adopt quickly, there are a few things that you should know before working with this type of professional. While this list isn’t meant to deter you, below are a few things to consider during your search.
- Lack of support: An adoption law center may not have a qualified social service department, so they can’t provide the same amount of support as an adoption agency would. A good adoption agency will be there for you 24/7 and will be able to offer important services such as counseling, adoption education, and guidance. Without these services, potential birth mothers and hopeful adoptive families may end up struggling during the emotional ups and downs of an adoption. If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent using the services of an adoption law center, you might be matched to a prospective birth mother who isn’t emotionally prepared for the adoption or doesn’t completely understand the process. This lack of education can increase the risk of an adoption disruption.
- Inaccurate fee estimate: The best adoption agencies will provide a transparent fee estimate for their adoptive families before the adoption takes place so that there are no surprises. With an adoption law center, an adoptive family may be shocked to find a bill that’s much higher than they were initially quoted — especially if they have to outsource important services like counseling and legal work to multiple other professionals.
- Working with multiple professionals: Like we mentioned earlier, working with an adoption law center typically means that you’ll need to reach out to other professionals to complete your adoption. Adoption law centers primarily handle matching adoptive families and prospective birth mothers, so once that step is completed, both parties are left to find legal representation, counseling and other services on their own. These organizations are also unable to provide any support when it comes to post‐placement supervision and mediating contact between the adoptive family and an expectant mother.
- Lack of oversight: Adoption law centers are not regulated as strictly as an agency or another professional would be. For example, adoption agencies and adoption law firms are reviewed annually to make sure that they meet all state and federal regulations. Adoption law centers are not subject to the same review and regulations. Because of this, there is no guarantee that working with an adoption law center will ensure that your adoption meets all legal and ethical standards.
Advantages of Adoption Law Centers
An adoption law center might not be able to meet all of your needs, but they do have a few benefits. Here are a few things to consider as you’re making your decision.
- Large advertising budgets: Adoption law centers will have large advertising budgets for hopeful adoptive families and prospective birth mothers, potentially making it easier to find a match. Many law centers advertise nationally to make sure that their clients can find a match as quickly as possible.
- Shorter wait times: Unlike other adoption professionals, you may experience a shorter wait time with an adoption law center.
How to Find a Great Adoption Law Center
When searching for the best adoption law centers, a family should be prepared to ask plenty of questions during their search. Although it may be tiring, this is a decision that will have a huge impact on your entire adoption experience, so it’s more than worth it to make sure the professional you’re working with is the right choice. While we strongly recommend the services of an adoption agency, ideally a national adoption agency with a larger staff and robust services, an adoption law center could be what you’re looking for. To receive more free information, don’t hesitate to reach out to an adoption professional for advice.