I am introducing my blog with a series of posts comparing the five basic types of adoptions. They are agency adoptions, parental placement adoptions, foster to adopt cases, step parent adoptions and international adoptions.
Adoption Agencies are licensed by individual states. In Virginia, agencies go through a rigorous licensing procedure and are strictly overseen by the Virginia State Department of Social Services. Virginia has many excellent agencies which provide high quality services.
It is important to realize however, that agencies have significant differences. Some are associated with a particular religious denomination, such as Catholic Charities. Some are non-denominational Christian agencies, and some are secular. Each is free to impose its own particular beliefs in qualifying prospective adoptive families. Sometimes, an agency may impose a restriction which seems inappropriate to a family, such as disqualifying them because of their age.
What is the Agency Adoption Process?
The first step in an agency adoption is to select an agency and provide them with their required materials. Agencies provide pre-adoption training and other important services. Once a family has been qualified, they will join a list of other qualified families awaiting an adoptive placement.
It is important to understand that the agency is licensed by the state to make the decision whom to place the child with. In recent years, agencies have given birth mothers greater involvement in choosing a family, but it is still the agency which makes the decision.
Because agencies are highly qualified and supervised, the legal process is more minimal than in other types of adoption. It is only after the child has been in the adoptive home for at least six months that a lawyer is required to finalize the adoption. The legal process involves the filing of the Petition for Adoption, the preparation of a Home Study report by the agency and the entry of a Final Order of Adoption.
Are all Agency Adoptions Closed?
While it is possible to have a legally enforceable open adoption agreement in an agency adoption, I have never seen it happen. Traditionally, all agency adoptions were closed, and it used to be the case that birth parents and adoptive parents did not even know who each other was. Now, they almost always do, but still usually never meet each other.
What are the Costs of an Agency Adoption?
Because the agency is much more involved than in other types of adoption, and because agencies have a professional staff to pay, a building to maintain and advertising to pay for, agency adoptions tend to be very expensive. They can range anywhere from $15,000.00 to $30,000.00. These fees also allow the agency to provide counseling for both the birth parents and adoptive parents and training for the adoptive parents.
What are the Advantages of Agency Adoption?
Adoption agencies provide guidance and support throughout the adoption process. But perhaps the most important advantage is that the child is not placed in the adoptive home until the parental rights of the birth parents have already been terminated. This means that there is virtually no risk of a disrupted placement.
What are the Disadvantages of Agency Adoption?
As already mentioned, agency adoptions are expensive, the agency can impose conditions which may not seem appropriate to prospective adoptive families and there are more requirements to be met. From the perspective of the birth mother, there is a very great disadvantage in that the child must be in a foster home for about a month before being placed. This is to allow the termination of parental rights to occur prior to the placement. In my experience, many birth mothers intuitively believe that this is not in the best interests of the child.
If you have Questions about Agency Adoption, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] and I would be happy to try to address your question. Or if you prefer, please call my office to schedule either an office or telephone consultation.