What are private domestic adoption agencies?
Private domestic adoption — or domestic infant adoption — occurs when birth parents voluntarily place their baby for adoption with an adoptive family that they’ve chosen for him or her. Private adoption agencies facilitate this placement by working with both birth mothers and adoptive families to support everyone in the adoption triad — birth parents, adoptive parents and the baby.
Who uses private adoption agencies?
Frequently, the people who pursue a private agency adoption have:
- Struggled with infertility.
- A strong desire to bond with their child from his or her birth.
- Decided it’s important for them to have an open or semi-open relationship with their child’s birth parents.
It’s important to note, though, that not all adoptive families will necessarily fit this specific profile. Families working with private adoption agencies haven’t always struggled with infertility. Sometimes they already have children, and other times they’ve just decided to start a family. Not everyone wants an open relationship, or open communication, with birth parents either, although most domestic adoption agencies today do recommend that as the healthiest option in most adoption scenarios. Not all birth mothers fit the same mold, nor do adoptive parents.
Types of Infant Adoption Agencies
In terms of domestic adoption agencies, there are two choices: national adoption agencies or local adoption agencies. National adoption agencies are licensed to complete adoptions throughout all 50 states, while local adoption agencies are typically limited to the particular state in which they’re located.
There are specific advantages to working with either type of adoption professional. The pros of working with a national adoption agency include:
- Shorter wait times to complete an adoption
- National exposure, which leads to more adoption opportunities
- Trained social service departments who can better assist birth mothers in terms of both education and evaluation
- Typically less financial risk in the event that a birth mother changes her mind about adoption
- Assistance through all phases of the adoption process for both birth parents and adoptive parents
- More accurate fee estimates
- After-hour and weekend availability, which means 24/7 assistance for birth mothers
- Greater marketing and advertising capabilities
- More staff available, which leads to more efficiency
If, however, you find yourself typing “adoption agencies near me” into search engines, there are some different benefits to working with a local adoption agency:
- Face-to-face meetings with your adoption professional
- Face-to-face interactions between birth mothers and the agency, which allows evaluation to take place directly
- Lower overhead, which may lead to less in the way of adoption fees
What services do private adoption agencies provide?
Not all newborn adoption agencies provide the same services. However, you may want to focus on those that offer the following:
- Financial protection – Adoption, as you may already know, can be expensive. There are many reasons for that, but that doesn’t mean you have to risk losing all of the money you’ve put into an adoption opportunity in the event of a disruption. Some agencies offer financial protection, which means they might automatically apply your funds to a different adoption situation, or they might even give it back to you so you have the option of choosing how to proceed. Make sure to ask any domestic infant adoption agencies you speak with about their exact policy regarding financial protection.
- Legal services – Baby adoption agencies, both national and local, should provide you with a trusted legal attorney to complete the legal aspects of your adoption.
- Matching services – The matching process is one of the most important services to most adoptive families when pursuing private agency adoption. If you don’t already have a child or birth mother identified, which is frequently the case with families working with private adoption agencies, then a service that pairs a birth mother with an adoptive family is extremely important.
- Screening services – Unfortunately, adoption scams can happen. By working with a licensed private adoption agency, you reduce your chances of experiencing one. Your adoption agency should screen birth mothers to ensure they’re committed to adoption for their child. This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t experience a disruption, but it’s less likely that you’ll come across a birth mother who is thinking about adoption for the wrong reasons.
- Counseling and education – Of course, it’s important that you understand what’s happening along every step of the adoption process. But it’s also important that someone is there providing counseling and support to birth mothers, who are typically going through an emotionally turbulent time. It’s imperative that a private adoption agency work to be available to birth mothers — ideally 24/7 — so that there’s always someone in their corner.
Cost of Using a Private Adoption Agency
Private domestic adoption can be expensive, costing anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. There’s a lot that goes into it; all those services listed above add up quickly. In some instances, you can safely cut costs. If you’re pursuing an identified adoption, like stepparent adoption, you may not need the help of a national adoption agency with fees built in for advertising and matching with a birth mother.
However, beware of any agency who is significantly undercutting competitors on their estimated total adoption costs. Some agencies include “hidden fees,” which they don’t factor into their estimates. Others don’t provide adequate services. When it comes to the best domestic adoption agencies, you get what you pay for.
How Domestic Adoption Agencies are Regulated
Domestic adoption agencies are the only adoption professionals who are both licensed and reviewed by the government. Being licensed means an adoption agency can complete adoptions in the state in which it is licensed. For national agencies, this means all 50 states. Local adoption agencies are generally licensed only in the states in which they practice. This means that a national adoption agency can complete an adoption across state lines with no issues, while a local adoption agency may not be able to.
Local adoption agencies are reviewed each year by their respective state governments, which means the state comes in and ensures all state laws and adoption regulations are being adhered to. Because national adoption agencies are licensed in many states, each state government reviews them multiple times per year, providing additional security for clients.
Helpful Links for Private Adoption Agencies
National Adoption Agencies:
- American Adoptions
- Alliance for Children
- Beacon House Adoption Services
- Bethany Christian Services
- Connections Adoption Services
- Gladney Center for Adoption
- Lifetime Adoption
For a list of local adoption agencies, use this tool from the Child Welfare Information Gateway to filter results by state.