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The Adoption Process: Agency vs. Independent

When determining which kind of adoption process you’d like to have, it’s important that you understand the distinction between an agency adoption and an independent adoption. The numerous avenues for adoption can be overwhelming to a family navigating this system for the first time — never be afraid to ask questions throughout your process. 

Agencies provide the highest assurance for monitoring and oversight because they are bound to licensing and procedural standards. Should you decide to partner with an adoption agency, there are few ways to go about it:

  • Private Agency: Private agencies include both international and domestic adoption options. Fees charged by private agencies can range anywhere from $5,000 – $30,000+. Some agencies will allow a payment plan, so if that’s desirable to you, determine that right away. Do your research to find a reputable agency in your area by attending support groups, checking with the Better Business Bureau, or visiting local agencies for a face-to-face meeting.
  • Public Agency: Public agencies are funded through state and federal taxes. This is a great option for families looking to adopt sibling groups, older children, or children with special needs. Because these agencies are funded by taxes and government funds, this is generally a more affordable way to adopt. In some cases, states have offered to pay the family’s legal fees and expenses in order to ensure the adoption goes smoothly. 

Many families prefer to start their adoption journey independently. While each experience is different, it is customary for the adoptive family to pay for all or some of the birth mother’s expenses (unless she is covered by private insurance or Medicaid). This can cause the independent route to be a bit more costly. Furthermore, there is little that can be done to assure that an adoptive family will not lose out on funds they’ve provided should the birth mother change her mind about the adoption. If you to pursue the independent route, support is key:

  • Adoption attorney: You will have to obtain an attorney to complete your adoption process. Attorneys must adhere to legislation in the adoptive parents’ state, the birth mother’s state, and that of the Bar Association.
  • Adoption facilitators: Some states have started to permit adoption facilitators to help the process move more smoothly. Facilitators act as “matchmakers” who counsel birth parents before making an introduction to a prospective adoptive family. The facilitators will charge a fee for their services and then let the birth and adoptive family make the rest of their arrangements. Be advised: this type of facilitation offers the least amount of oversight.

No matter what, you have the opportunity to customize the process that’s best for your family. Every journey is different, but preparation is key. 

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