When it comes to adoption--whether placing or adopting--working with an adoption agency is just a part of the process for most people. Those new to the world of adoption may be confused when it comes to finding and working with the right agency, as there are many options through which to search. Because the adoption or placement process can be overwhelming and stressful, it's best to start with the basics.
What is an Adoption Agency?
An adoption agency is a licensed organization that connects those placing or children waiting for homes with hopeful adoptive parents, and vice versa. Each adoption agency must be licensed in every state in which it conducts business. While most adoption agencies are similar in their goals, how they're organized can vary greatly. Some are government agencies while others are non-profit, for-profit, or not-for-profit.
The term "adoption agency" refers to the collective of adoption professionals who work together. An adoption agency can consist of adoption lawyers or attorneys, adoption or options counselors, and adoption facilitators. Each adoption professional has his or her own place in the agency, and all must do their jobs in order for any adoption agency to work properly and efficiently.
The Benefits of Using an Adoption Agency:
While some may be wary of using an adoption agency to place or adopt, there are many benefits. The first thing to know is that using an adoption agency is optional. There are other ways to begin and finalize an adoption without the use of an agency. One of the biggest advantages is that a lot of the legwork is done by the agency. This provides those placing and adopting with more time to focus on other parts of the adoption journey, like the home study. It also gives peace of mind, because of the knowledge that experienced professionals are handling the difficult, time-consuming agenda items.
For many navigating the adoption process, the legal aspect is daunting--paperwork, appeals, contracts, and court dates for severing parental rights and finalizing the adoption. Using an adoption agency just for the legal part of the adoption may be worth it alone. Along with the legal portion of adoption finalization, working with an agency can help you better understand the adoption community and how to use positive adoption language. Because adoption is emotional and painful for many members of the triad, sensitivity is important. Using the proper adoption language can make a big difference when it comes to interacting with those affected by adoption or who work in the adoption field.
Many, if not most, adoption agencies provide pre and post-adoption counseling. This is a great resource for everyone involved--birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees. Pre-adoption counseling is great for those placing and for those adopting. For those placing or for those who have placed, counseling can help them better understand their situation, their feelings, and their choices, and it can help them through the post-placement healing process. For the adoptive family, counseling can provide a way for the household to prepare for the upcoming change and can help with adjustment afterward.
Finding the Right Agency:
While there are many benefits to using an adoption agency, the problematic area may be finding the right one. The right adoption agency will be different for everyone, as each person has different goals, needs, and expectations. Here are some things to keep in mind during the search to find the right adoption agency:
Navigating the adoption or placement process alone can be done; it's just more difficult. Using an adoption agency can create a smooth, happy, and calm experience for everyone involved, and that's the greatest benefit of all.
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Articles and Resources
Policy on Children Relinquished to Private Agencies, How Are Public and Private Adoption Agencies Different?, What is an Adoption Agency?, U.S. Adoption Agencies Working with U.S. Citizens Living Abroad
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.