Are you confused about the differences between adopting a baby from adoption agencies or an adoption lawyers (also known as an independent adoptions)? You’re not alone–people new to adoption are often confused about how these two types of adoption differ and which one to use. In all but four states you have a choice between using an adoption attorney and an adoption agency when adopting an infant in the US.
It is hard to make hard and fast distinctions between adopting through an adoption agency and adopting through an adoption attorney because there is a great deal of variation amongst adoption agencies and amongst adoption lawyers. Some agencies provide few of the resources expected of adoption agencies, while some attorneys provide more. I do think there are some general distinctions and what follows applies to the typical, not the exceptions.
Ten Differences between Adopting through an Adoption Agency and an Adoption Lawyer
- In a typical independent adoption, the prospective parents take an active role in finding a birthmother, usually by networking, advertising, or by using the Internet. While adoptive parents may choose to do this in an adoption agency adoption, they may have the option of having the adoption agency do this for them.
- In some states (in some circumstances) infant adopted through an adoption agency must first go to a foster home before being placed with their adoptive parents. (This is not always the case.)
- Adoption agencies can handle infant domestic adoption, international adoptions, and foster care adoptions, and sometimes all three at the same agency. Adoption attorneys usually only handle independent domestic infant adoptions through birth parent relinquishment.
- Not all states allow adoption lawyers to help adoptive parents locate and screen expectant women who are considering placing their child for adoption.
- Usually the expectant woman or birthmother selects the adoptive family in both adoption agency adoptions and independent adoption attorney adoptions, but sometimes in an agency adoption, the agency will choose if the birth mother does not want to. This seldom happens with adoptions through adoption lawyers.
- As a general rule, adoption lawyers have fewer restrictions for adoptive parents (age, marital status, sexual orientation, # of divorces, religion), although it restrictions depend upon the agency and not all agencies have them.
- Adoption lawyers often do not have and do not require the same level of pre-adoption education as most adoption agencies. (I believe all adoptive parents should be well educated on the adoption and adoptive parenting before the adoption.)
- Most adoption agencies provide counseling to the expectant woman and the father and even her extended family throughout the pregnancy and after the adoption. Few adoption lawyer provide counseling as part of their service although they should be able to refer the expectant woman to a counselor and bill the adoptive parents.
- Most adoption attorneys do not provide ongoing support for adoptive families after the adoption has been finalized, although some are able to refer families to a therapist specializing in adoption issues or other resources. Not all adoption agencies have post adoption support, but many do and adoptive parents can choose to select one that provides this service.
- It is possible to find an adoption agency that charges on a sliding fee scale or does not charge birth mother medical expenses directly to the adoptive family, thus saving the adoptive family money. These payment options are seldom available with independent adoptions via an adoption attorney. Average cost, however, for adoptions are about the same regardless whether you adopt through an adoption agency or lawyer.
What would you add? How did you decide whether to adopt from an adoption agency or adoption lawyer?Image credit: l0s71