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There are two types of adoption agencies: public and private.
Public agencies are usually supported by government funding and tend to assist mostly with the adoption of children in the foster care system. They may provide a greater number of support services including pre- and post-adoption education, counseling and low-cost home studies.
Private agencies are state-licensed, and run privately. Private agencies offer a range of adoption services for both domestic and international adoptions. Agencies will generally perform widespread searches for children to adopt, and may also target specific populations to assist the adoptive parents. Agencies typically offer counseling to birth parents, a vital component in every adoption.
While agency adoption is preferable in many cases, it is important to remember that adoption agencies may work under a guiding mission, which determines the types of adoptions they offer as well as the type of adoptive parents they work with.
An identified adoption is a type of independent adoption in which the birth parents and the adoptive parents make contact with one another regarding an adoption. They contact an adoption agency or attorney together to proceed in the adoption process. Both the birth parents and the adoptive parents have agreed that this is the adoption situation they desire. Identified adoption may not meet all the needs of a particular family. Families who want more support and educational services may want to choose to adopt through an agency as opposed to independent adoption.
Adoption facilitators are typically either licensed social workers, or unlicensed paid intermediaries. They assist couples in locating and matching adoptive couples with birth parents. Adoption facilitators can be a friend, family member, doctors/nurses, or religious figures with the sole intent of helping potential adoptive parents. It is important to know your state’s adoption law regulating the use of an adoption facilitator, especially if unlicensed. In some states, the use of an unlicensed paid adoption facilitator is illegal. Hiring a qualified adoption attorney, regardless of your chosen path to adoption, is a wise decision.
Private or independent adoptions are conducted through the use of an adoption attorney. Private adoptions usually deal with infants, though this is not always the case. The child may be located before the attorney is involved, or the attorney may assist in the location of a child for adoption.
When choosing a private adoption with an attorney, the adoptive couple should research experienced adoption attorneys, to ensure knowledge of state adoption practices. The expenses of a private adoption vary, though it is expected that the adoptive parents pay for the medical (if necessary), and legal costs for the birthparent(s) as well as their own legal fees. The adoptive parents will still need to complete an adoption home study through a licensed social worker or a licensed adoption agency. Before pursuing a private adoption, it is important to check that private adoptions are legal in your state.