Facilitators vs. Adoption Agencies
Adoption is not as simple as just answering an advertisement and being matched with prospective adoptive parents. Every adoption is unique and complex. Experienced, knowledgeable, and reliable help is important. Birth parents and prospective adoptive parents want their adoption plan to work. They want to know and understand their rights and obligations. They want a legally secure placement for their child. Adoption laws exist to protect children, as well as balance and protect the rights of the birth mother, birth father, and the adoptive family.
While it may be tempting to respond to a facilitator’s advertisement promising you your pick of adoptive parents and payments for a variety of expenses, you should first understand the difference between a “facilitator” and an “adoption agency.” You also need to know that in many states, payments to a facilitator are illegal and may prevent you and the adoptive family you select from finalizing the adoption. Make sure you follow the law by first consulting with an adoption attorney or a licensed adoption agency.
“Adoption agencies” are licensed, regulated, and monitored by the state in which they work. Prospective adoptive parents who work with a licensed adoption agency must meet certain minimum requirements. Birth parents are provided with services such as counseling, legal assistance, support during the pregnancy, and help with the adoption plan and plans for future contact. Adoption agencies typically assign social workers to work with prospective adoptive parents and birth parents, provide counseling, mediate future contact, complete an investigation of the adoption family, arrange the legal consent process, and connect adoptive parents and birth parents with legal resources. Adoption agencies frequently consult with adoption attorneys to make sure that laws, rules, and regulations are being followed appropriately.
“Facilitators” are unlicensed and unregulated. They are not required to meet any standards involving education, experience, insurance, or personnel. No one monitors facilitators. They have no license to lose. They typically charge a substantial amount of money for advertising and then “matching” prospective adoptive parents with a birth mother. Once they make a match, they take their money and are no longer involved. They do not provide counseling or legal advice. They do not help make sure your adoption plan is followed and finalized. In many states, it is against the law to use and pay a facilitator to be matched with a birth parent. If the adoptive family you choose pays a facilitator, they may not be able to finalize the adoption.