When you’ve made the already difficult decision to create an adoption plan, you will be faced with another difficult choice. Do you choose to work with a local adoption agency or an adoption attorney?
What’s the Difference Between a Local Adoption Agency and Adoption Attorney?
Are you confused about the difference between working with a local adoption agency vs. an adoption attorney, also known as an independent adoption? “You’re not alone,” writes Dawn Davenport, Creating a Family. So, we decided to break down some of the major differences between these two options.
- Private Adoption: “Private adoption, also called independent adoption, refers to a type of adoption whereby the [birth mother and] adopting parent works primarily with an attorney throughout the adoption process instead of with an adoption agency,” says Hal Kaufman, My Adoption Advisor.
- Agency Adoption: Agency adoption, you guessed it, refers to an adoption where the birth mother works with an adoption agency throughout the entire process.
Education & Training
Many adoption attorneys do not require or provide any education and training for birth or adoptive parents. “When you use an agency, they walk you through each step of the adoption process, (e.g., application, home study, creating a profile, advertising, placement, and finalization) and provide the professionals to guide you,” writes Narda Emett, Adoption.com. They often also require prospective adoptive parents to complete certain educational requirements, ensuring your baby is in good care.
“Adoption lawyers often do not have and do not require the same level of pre-adoption education as most adoption agencies,” says Davenport.
Support Before and After Placement
Perhaps the biggest benefit to using a local adoption agency is support.
Before placement, “adoption agencies walk parents through every stage of the process,” says Janna J. Annest, J.D. This includes help creating an adoption plan, adoption counseling, and a helping hand whenever needed. And because of their close proximity, your local agency is able to provide consistent, in-person support, including “post-placement treatment from qualified adoption social workers or family therapists,” writes Emett, “at no additional charge.” After the placement, birth mothers can receive help throughout the years for whatever emotional issues she is having related to her adoption process,” explains Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C. This includes everything from post-placement adoption counseling to something as seemingly simple as how to write a letter to your child.
On the flip side, “most adoption attorneys do not provide ongoing support for adoptive families,” explains Davenport.
A Deeper Dive into Adoption Counseling
We can not emphasizes enough the importance of adoption counseling throughout the process, including post-placement.
“Only support and the respectful acknowledgment of their choices and their emotions can help birth parents grieve in a healthy manner and, with time, allow for their healing and reconciliation of the adoption as a part of their life story,” explain Chuck Johnson and Kris Faasse, LMSW, ACSW.
- Pre-Placement Counseling: “Adoption is not just scary, counseling is provided because birth mothers can feel overwhelmed with the choices and decisions associated with adoption,” says Dr. Kirschner. “Counseling may help a birth mother/birth father understand the various options associated with choices of parenting or creating an adoption plan.”
- Post-Placement Counseling: “75 percent of the women surveyed reported that their emotional health was very poor, poor, or neutral in the first year after placement,” according to a national survey conducted by the On Your Feet Foundation. This is why post-placement adoption counseling can be so beneficial. You are encouraged to stay as close as you feel comfortable. The support is here if you need it.
In 2013 in the state of Maryland, Governor O’Malley signed into law House Bill 563, which has helped numerous pregnant women in Maryland by allowing adoptive families to help cover certain expenses, including reasonable charge or fee for adoption counseling.
Open Adoption Facilitation
“Most agencies act as intermediaries in the relationship between both families,” says Annest. This is true not only during the adoption process, but after placement as well. In a semi-open adoption, all communications pass through the adoption agency. If you adopt using only an attorney, you will need to hire a separate adoption facilitator.
The professionals at Adoption Makes Family have many years of experience in adoption services. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. We were founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal.
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at email@example.com or use our online contact form.