Adoption Agencies for Pregnant Women [Complete Guide]
Agency Adoption vs. Independent Adoption
If you’ve considered all of your options for your unplanned pregnancy and decided to look further into adoption, it’s important to know you have lots of different paths to choose from to reach your adoption goals.
One of those first in the road in the adoption process is whether you decide to work with an adoption agency or to pursue an independent adoption on your own. But what are the differences between agency adoptions and independent adoptions? Are there benefits to choosing an adoption agency vs. an independent adoption?
It’s likely these are just some of the questions you may have when it comes to your adoption options. This guide will compare agency adoptions and independent private adoptions and the advantages or disadvantages of choosing either one.
What is an Agency Adoption?
When a pregnant mother works with an adoption agency to complete her adoption, this is considered an agency adoption. In an agency adoption, you will first start out by contacting either a local or national adoption agency.
National adoption agencies often have the most variety of families, seeing how their pool of adoptive parents is from all over the United States. This can increase your chances of finding an adoptive family that perfectly matches the characteristics you are looking for. In-person contact with the agency could be limited, but in most cases, they have more resources and services available than a local adoption agency, like 24/7 availability and support.
Local adoption agencies offer similar services as a national agency. In some cases, given their smaller size, and hometown connection, they are able to offer more in-person services and contact. Local adoption agencies generally only work with families located in your state or region, which can make finding a family for your child more difficult.
The type of agency you choose will depend upon your specific needs and goals for your adoption. No matter which agency type you choose, some trademarks of services provided during an agency adoption include:
- Your own adoption social worker, who will be your main contact throughout the adoption
- Complete adoption services included and carried out by the adoption agency, including legal services and counseling services
- A robust adoptive family screening program to make sure their prospective families are ready to become parents through adoption
- Assistance with selecting an adoptive family who best fits your adoption plan. Agencies will often provide adoption profiles, and sometime even adoption videos, of their families
- Mediation for communicating with the adoptive family before and after the adoption
When you pursue an agency adoption, you will likely be assigned your own adoption social worker, who will be your point of contact throughout the adoption process. They will help answer all of your adoption questions and guide you through the adoption process.
Your social worker will ask you how you envision your ideal adoption, the type of adoptive family you are seeking, the type of relationship you want to share with them, and the type of relationship you want with your child, all of which will form your “adoption plan.” Based on your responses, she will provide you a selection of adoption profiles to choose from. The more families the adoption agency has, the better chance you have of finding the perfect family for your baby.
As the adoption proceeds, your social worker will always be there for you and will be available to help mediate any contact between you and the chosen adoptive family. Your adoption agency will partner with an adoption attorney from your state to legally perform the rest of the adoption.
Agency adoptions are recommended for women who want:
- someone to help guide them throughout each step of the adoption process
- assistance determining their ideal adoption plan
- help finding the perfect adoptive family
- mediation for initial interactions with the adoptive family, and perhaps beyond
- adoption counseling along the way
Benefits of Agency Adoptions
When you choose an agency over an independent adoption, you are relieving yourself of many difficult tasks and ensuring you are truly going about your adoption in the best way possible. Some of the many benefits of choosing an agency adoption include the following:
Counseling and education
Adoption can be a difficult and emotional experience. One which you should not have to go through alone. Adoption agencies offer counseling and education services for prospective birth moms to ensure you do not have to experience an unplanned pregnancy alone.
Having a specialist from an adoption agency to help you work through your fears, emotions and questions can be a very valuable asset to an adoption.
Assistance in the matching process
Working with an agency means you’ll have help finding an adoptive family. This is very important, as attempting to advertise on your own is not only costly but can also be risky. Through screening, an adoption agency will work with both you and the potential adoptive parents to make sure everyone is comfortable with the adoption situation.
If you choose to pursue adoption without an agency, it will be up to you to find adoptive parents on your own, through word of mouth, social media and other avenues. Unless you already personally know someone you want to place your baby with, this can be risky, as these families have not been screened the way adoptive parents are with an agency.
In addition to educating you about why an open adoption can be the best option for all parties involved, adoption agencies can help you to facilitate contact with the adoptive parents. It can be difficult to know just how or when to communicate with your child’s adoptive parents. This communication is key towards a healthy and successful open adoption.
Having an adoption specialist around to work with you through the process, or even mediate contact for you, is a huge asset.
What is Independent Adoption?
We are often asked, “Can adoptions take place without an agency?” Although it’s fairly uncommon, the answer is yes, private independent adoption is an option.
An independent adoption is a nonagency adoption in which the adoptive and birth parents work directly with an independent adoption attorney to complete the process. In any type of adoption, an attorney must be involved to ensure the adoption is being completed ethically and legally. During the independent adoption process, adoptive and birth parents are completing a private adoption with only minimal assistance.
The steps for a private adoption without an agency can be complex and difficult to navigate on your own, and every process is different depending on your state laws and situation. However, there are two big steps for how to do an independent adoption that are always the same: finding a family, and completing the adoption with an attorney.
Step 1: Find a family for independent domestic adoption
Independent adoptions begin with you deciding how you will find an adoptive family. Perhaps you already know someone who is interested in adopting, such as a relative or close friend. In the case of an independent relative adoption, sometimes called an identified adoption, you will only need the assistance of an independent adoption lawyer to complete the process. However, the services of an adoption agency are still available to you, and can provide several advantages.
If you do not personally know someone who you want to adopt your child, you may look online or in newspapers, or you may contact an adoption attorney or adoption facilitator (in the states in which they are legal) to help you locate a family that matches your wishes.
Step 2: Contact an independent adoption attorney
Regardless of how you locate an adoptive family, the next step is contacting an independent adoption attorney to legally carry out the rest of the adoption. Birth and adoptive parents will be in charge of finding their own independent adoption attorneys, but the adoptive family should always be responsible for the independent adoption attorney fees.
Every state has specific adoption laws that must be followed accordingly, or it could risk the legality of the adoption. Some of these laws include:
- how much in financial assistance an adoptive family can provide, and for what
- when you may legally consent to the adoption
- how to legally terminate the birth father’s parental rights
You will select your own adoption attorney, and the adoptive parents will select their own, so there is no conflict of interest. You want your adoption attorney to be looking out only for your best interests.
Independent adoptions are recommended for women who:
- already know an adoptive family
- want to find an adoptive family on their own
- want maximum flexibility in their adoption
- are OK with speaking directly with the adoptive family
- don’t mind the adoptive family learning their identifying information
Benefits of Independent Adoption
When you choose to pursue an independent adoption, you are responsible for completing each step of the process. Although it can be a challenge, there are benefits to having an adoption without using an agency. Read more about the independent adoption advantages below:
Choosing to have an independent adoption means you are in complete control of, and responsible for finding, all resources and service providers. During an agency adoption, oftentimes, the agency adoption will facilitate services you need and provide helpful resources throughout your adoption. Although many find this useful, if you are looking to have more control of each and every service every step of the way, independent adoption gives you that opportunity.
Fewer people involved
Adoption without an agency means fewer people are involved. If the only person you need to complete your adoption is an attorney, and you’ve already found an adoption opportunity and you don’t require any additional services — then an independent adoption can simplify the process. Your attorney will be able to finalize it for you after you’ve taken care of the rest.
Agency Adoption vs. Independent Adoption
There are pros and cons to both agency adoption and independent adoption. Which one you choose should depend on your goals for your adoption and how comfortable you are with the idea of navigating the adoption process by yourself.
The assistance of an adoption agency takes much of the stress and worry out of the adoption process, but it also includes involving more people in what can be a very personal and private decision. If you’d prefer to have some guidance along the way, working with an agency might be preferable.
In situations where you have already identified who you are going to place your child with, independent adoption could be the right option. You have to be willing to put in the work and dedicate your time to ensure all requirements are being met. Your adoption attorney will explain the risks of independent adoption, and help you complete the legalities.
No matter which way you are leaning for your adoption, you should consider speaking with an adoption professional. They can provide unbiased information and discuss your options for your specific situation, which may help you make a decision.
Ready to get started? Contact an adoption agency now to get free information.