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What Is An Adoption Agency?... and What Services Do They Provide?

There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings in the adoption world. One of the most misunderstood concepts is that of what an adoption agency actually is and what services they provide.

Adoption Agencies work with all three parts of the adoption triad (adoptee, birthparent, adoptive family) to provide services that span for the entirety of the adoption journey from conception/pregnancy and delivery all the way to updates throughout the child's life and eventually reunions. Below are some of these services. 

Adoptive Family Side

  • Licensing families
  • Completing Home Studies
  • Adoption and Child Care Training
  • Counseling for the family and child if needed
  • Services for the adoptee and family for the rest of their life
  • Peer support with other Adoptive Families and Adoptees
  • Matching and placing
  • Legal Finalization
  • Updates
  • Forming open adoption plans
  • Reunion services for the child
  • Many more…

Birth Family Side- All free of charge

  • Counseling during pregnancy and for life after placement
  • Providing access to good medical care
  • Confidentiality
  • Support System
  • Matching and Placing
  • Providing options of licensed, home study approved families to choose from
  • Updates and Open Adoption Guide
  • All legal services
  • Living expenses
  • Many more…

One important aspect to understand is that Adoption Agency placements are completely voluntary. Agencies are not CPS or Foster Care and they are not involuntarily placing any children for adoption. They work with the first family on two plans during their pregnancy: a placing plan and a parenting plan. This allows them to be ready when the times comes no matter what decision is made.

"DIY" or Private Adoption Planning 

With the internet and social media rapidly growing more and more there is a trend of adoptive families and expectant parents going the “DIY” route when it comes to adoptions. Meaning they are choosing to forgo matching through an agency and are trying to find that match themselves. While this has absolutely lead to beautiful relationships and adoptions, it is also an extremely hard and risky way to complete an adoption. One way to get around this risk is to bring a self match into an agency to complete the adoption plan. Usually agencies will allow for a reduced fee while still providing all services mentioned above. Additionally, most of the services mentioned above can not be legally provided by/to individuals without attorney or agency involvement. 

Of course there are pros and cons to all types of adoption and these differ per adoption triad member. The reason some adoptive families have turned to the DIY route is because of the reduced fees involved in this type of adoption. They may also feel that bypassing the middle man will allow for a deeper or closer relationship with the expectant parent’s. However, one aspect all potential adoptive parents have to remember is that agencies will always have more experience and knowledge than they will. It doesn’t matter if a family adopts one child or 10,  agencies and attorneys have not only done 100’s or 1000’s of placements and adoptions, they have also worked with many expectant parent’s that choose to parent. Therefore, agencies and attorneys have a lot more knowledge when it comes to how genuine an expectant parent is in their wish to complete an adoption plan and how to provide the services they need in a timely manner. Of course agencies and attorneys are not mind readers, they can see red flags better and sooner than anyone else because they have seen them many times before. Additionally, while it may seem “cheaper” in the short time to do an adoption privately, the possibility of scams and loosing thousands of dollars before a placement is completed is exponentially increased when doing this DIY approach. Of course this also can happen in adoption agencies, however ethical adoption agencies have very few up-front fees and the likelihood of being scammed or losing a lot of money before being fully placed is significantly lower. That is why we recommend all prospective adoptive parents to do 3-6 months of research before signing on with an agency in order to make sure they are working with someone that is ethical and someone that matches their ideal journey.

The reason a lot of expectant parents want to do the process privately mostly has to do with misconceptions about agencies or attorneys. They associate agencies with CPS/foster care or just generally don’t want to have to work with anyone other than the family they are placing with. It is an extremely emotional and confusing process so this absolutely makes sense. However, that is never an option as agencies and/or attorneys have to be involved in multiple steps of private adoptions. Ethical agencies are only there to make sure that if the expectant parents want to form an adoption plan, it is done in a way that allows that parent to make the decisions they feel is best for the child and themselves. Additionally working with an agency ensures a more open type of adoption plan that can not be guaranteed when not working with an agency that has photo agreement contracts. There is no such agreement when only working with an attorney. Agency families are fully home study approved and licensed before they can start the matching process, therefore agencies can ensure all of the families are ready and able to be parents at a moments notice. In addition agencies can provide counseling and other services that individuals do not have access to and they know how to provide these services in a comprehensive, timely and ethical way.

Ethical adoptions that are in the best interest of everyone involved are what most agencies are able to provide. Of course there are bad actors out there just as there are in any business. There is no fully wrong way to adopt. Adoption is not black and white, it is filled with so many shades of gray. When an adoptive family and expectant or already birthed family can form a bond over the love a child, that means adoption was done in the right way!

*The sentiments expressed in this blog represent Cradle of Life Staff and/or Clients and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or policies of all adoption agencies.