Agency Adoption vs Independent Adoption
As birth mothers and adoptive families may research their options regarding adoption, they will find there are many different types of professionals involved in the adoption process. Adoption agencies could be viewed as more of an encompassing multi-disciplinary team approach while independent adoptions facilitated solely by adoption attorneys could be viewed as a legal process monitored and facilitated by only an attorney. This is because adoption agencies utilize social workers, counselors, and support staff who are available to mothers in need of options counseling so mothers can determine whether adoption is the right fit for them. Adoption agencies will also contract adoption attorneys to assist in the legal part of the process. The adoption agency can also connect the birth mother to families the agency has already vetted, educated, and assessed, who are looking to adopt. Independent adoptions are conducted with adoption attorneys being the only “adoption professional” involved in the process. The staff at Hopeful Beginnings are aware of both means to adopt and want to ensure birth moms, families, and hospital/medical professionals are well-informed about all of the adoption options. As a hospital social worker or professional, there are times when a birth mother may look to you for a referral to assist in making an adoption plan. It is important for you to have information about the different types of adoption that your patient may be choosing between.
The type of placement where a birth mother has already chosen a family or has a certain adoptive family in mind is called an “identified adoption”. The adoptive placement of a baby only through utilizing an adoption attorney is called an “independent adoption”. Birth mothers who already have an adoptive family in mind (whether through introductions by a friend or via social media) may find themselves or their adoptive family leaning towards utilizing an adoption attorney versus an adoption agency. Reasons for this quite often have to do with the finances of the adoptive family. An adoptive family most likely will need to pay more if they utilize an adoption agency versus an adoption attorney. Birth mothers generally are not required to pay for any services themselves regardless of the route of the adoption process.
Why is it more expensive to work with an adoption agency versus an attorney? An adoption agency provides more services outside of the actual court proceedings and legal paperwork provided by an adoption attorney. The most important service that an adoption agency provides is counseling services to the birth mother from the moment she comes in contact with the staff and onward. A lifetime of counseling means that the birth mother can talk with her counselor when she is pregnant and wanting clear information about what adoption could look like for her in addition to processing the many emotions and thoughts while pregnant. A lifetime of counseling means that the birth mother can work through her feelings following the baby being born and the adoptive placement in addition to engaging with the baby and adoptive family through an open relationship. A lifetime of counseling means that the birth mother can talk to her counselor 15 years later when she is starting a family or taking on another phase of life and needs to process that adjustment in light of the adoption she made years ago. A lifetime of counseling is a service provided by Hopeful Beginnings for their birth mothers and is viewed as a way of life at the agency. Hopeful Beginnings remains a lifetime resource for their birth mothers and it is a privilege and honor to have that place in their lives.
The counseling that is received before the adoptive placement of the baby can also be crucial to ensuring that the birth mother has had the opportunity to really process what adoption means and also what kind of family or openness would be the best match. Imagine making the biggest decision of your life without being given the opportunity to talk with someone about it in a non-pressured and safe environment. So many birth mothers find themselves isolated from others in their life due to the pregnancy or their consideration of adoption which is heartbreaking. Nobody should go through this decision alone or without an advocate by their side. There may be a risk for an adoptive family as well in that a birth mother who has not had the opportunity to truly talk through all of her options may come to realize this after the baby is born and pull back from the adoption. Of course, this is her right to do so and should be respected, but Hopeful Beginnings believes that counseling prior to the birth of the baby can assist in minimizing the risk as much as possible which is beneficial for the birth mother and the adoptive family.
Other benefits of utilizing an adoption agency instead of solely an adoption attorney include support and counseling available to the adoptive family. This can be particularly helpful for an adoptive family as they await the birth of the baby and the decision of the birth mom while managing their own hopes and dreams of welcoming a new baby through adoption. This can be helpful for many families as according to Parents.com, “Some adoptive parents who have adopted independently say later that it might have been nice to have had the emotional support and thoughtful preparation for adoption that an adoption agency provides.” (2005). In an interview (2020) with hospital social worker, Kim Stobbe, she stated “I absolutely 100% prefer [working with] an adoption agency. I never have to worry about the logistics and the patients feel so supported. Plus, I feel like it’s utilizing more of a multidisciplinary approach which I am in favor of and makes everything go much smoother.”
Additional reasons why an adoption agency is more expensive include the additional outreach an agency actively engages in on a regular basis. An adoption agency usually spends part of the funds provided by the adoptive family to make themselves known to the public as a place that provides counseling for women facing unplanned pregnancies. From there, a birth mother may contact the adoptive agency, receive counseling, and become connected with waiting adoptive families. If a birth mother already has become connected with a prospective adoptive family, the initial agency outreach and connections would be unnecessary. Some fees can be waived by an agency if the connection was made prior to agency involvement.
This article will hopefully help you guide and provide options to your patients who are looking for resources or who may already have a family in mind but are not working with an adoption agency. It is important for your patients to know the extent of services out there and available to them as birth mothers free of charge and in a non-pressured environment. The adoption process with an adoption agency such as Hopeful Beginnings will include adoption attorneys as all adoptions must do, but it will offer significantly more support and services all-around. As AdoptionAgencies.com elaborates, “You will have the legal expertise of an adoption attorney along with the support, education, and guidance of an adoption counselor” (2020). And why Hopeful Beginnings? As a local and intimate agency with experience in working with families for over 100 years, we are 100% committed to the wellbeing of each party involved in an adoption, birth mom, adoptive parents, and most importantly, the baby. As hospital social worker Kim Stobbe summarized, “The benefits of working with the Hopeful Beginnings staff include having the pleasure of working with highly-skilled, clinically sound therapists who care a great deal for their clients. I appreciate the ethical and honest manner in which they treat birth mothers during the adoption process.” (2020).
If you are interested in learning more about the adoption process (whether a birth mother, prospective adoptive family, or a medical or guidance professional who is involved in the support of mothers during pregnancy/birth), please do not hesitate to reach out to our maternity and adoption counselors at Hopeful Beginnings at 847-870-8181. Social workers are available 24/7 for those in need of immediate consultation due to a recent or approaching birth.
Adoption Agencies. (2020). Other Adoption Professionals: adoption attorneys and law firms. Adoption Agencies. https://adoptionagencies.com/adoption-agency-information/other-adoption-professionals/adoption-attorneys/
Parents. (2005). The Adoption Process: Agency vs. Independent Adoption. Parents. https://www.parents.com/parenting/adoption/facts/agency-vs-independent-adoption/Back To Blog