If a person introduces a birth mother to prospective adoptive parents, this is called facilitation. There is nothing wrong with this so long as it is not paid for.
Virginia's adoption statutes are very specific about what payments may and may not be made in connection with an adoption. This is intended to protect people from fraud. Virginia's statutes go so far as to make it a felony for any money to pass hands in connection with an adoption except for the specific things listed. Facilitation is not listed, and therefore it is a felony to pay for it. If a Virginia family pays a California company, it is still a crime in Virginia.
The state of California has specifically authorized facilitation services in that state to be licensed and to charge a fee for their services. Unfortunately, these companies do not seem to have any qualms about advertising in other states, including Virginia. And informing them that their services are illegal in Virginia has not stopped them from doing so. And in the internet age, any advertisement posted anywhere may be seen anywhere. The situation is further confused by the fact that some facilitation services make is sound very much as if they were a licensed child placing agency, when in fact they are not.
These California Facilitation Services may charge between $5,000 and $10,000 for their services. While I do hear stories of successful situations involving some of these companies, I also hear of many cases of highly questionable practices.
Other states have not followed California's example because of these reports of fraud.
Any family pursuing adoption should be very careful not to make the mistake of paying a facilitation service. A good rule would be not to pay anyone unless a qualified Virginia adoption attorney has reviewed the matter and advised that such payment would be legal.