woman contemplating two paths of a gravel road

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 forks 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.

So what are the differences between agency adoptions and independent adoptions?

Agency Adoption

A type of adoption in which a pregnant mother works with an adoption agency to complete her adoption plan.

Some trademarks of 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. 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
How Do Agency Adoptions Work?

In an agency adoption, you will first start out by contacting either a local or national adoption agency. Which type of agency should you choose?

National Adoption Agency – Often have the most variety of families from all around the United States. In-person contact with the agency could be limited, but they may have more resources than a local adoption agency.

Local Adoption Agency – Often only have families located in your state or region. In-person contact with the agency is likely.

After contacting an adoption agency, you will then likely be assigned your own adoption social worker, who will be your point of contact throughout the adoption process. She will help answer all of your adoption questions and help you decide whether adoption is right for you.

If you decide to proceed with the adoption, she will get to know you better and will first want to learn about your social and medical history. This will include information about the birth father, any past medical conditions, whether you have consumed alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy, etc. It is very important to be completely honest during this time so they are prepared to help you find the right family. Remember, none of your responses will ever be held against you or told to your family members.

Your social worker will then ask you about 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 of the family for you to choose from. The more families the adoption agency has, the better chance you have of finding the perfect family.

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 guild them throughout each step of the adoption process
  • assistance determining their ideal adoption
  • help finding the perfect adoptive family
  • mediation for initial interactions with the adoptive family, and perhaps beyond
  • adoption counseling along the way

Independent Adoption

A type of adoption in which a pregnant mother conducts her own adoption process and teams with an adoption attorney or sometimes an adoption facilitator.

Some trademarks of an independent adoption include:

  • Finding your own adoptive family, whether through your own means or by networking with an adoption attorney or facilitator
  • Locating your own adoption counseling
  • Engaging in contact with the adoptive family, often without the mediation of an adoption professional
How Do Independent Adoptions Work?

Independent adoptions begin with you deciding how you will find an adoptive family. Perhaps you already know someone who is interested in adopting, or you may want to ask people with whom you feel comfortable sharing this news. If you are unsuccessful, you may look online or in newspapers, or you may contact an adoption attorney or adoption facilitator (in the states in which they are licensed) to help you locate a family that matches your wishes.

Regardless of how you locate an adoptive family, the next step is contacting an adoption attorney to legally carryout the rest of the adoption. 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 likely select your own adoption attorney, and the adoptive parenets 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 her identifying information

The agency adoption vs. independent adoption decision is very important because it will determine everything that occurs in your adoption. You should spend a lot of time thinking and researching which you feel most comfortable with to ensure you have the best adoption experience possible.