Agency adoption, in a nutshell, is an adoption process that is carried out by an agency licensed by a state. These agencies put prospective adoptive parents in a thorough vetting process. They are also responsible for looking over child placement in adoptive homes until the finalization of the adoption.
Agency adoptions are among one of the most popular venues for adoption, especially for those who have zero knowledge of the adoption process. There are usually two options when it comes to agency adoptions – either through a private or a public agency.
Adoption through a private agency
A private adoption agency is privately-funded and, before it can operate, must be licensed by the state where it is located. Finding a private adoption agency is fairly easy via public domain or the yellow pages. A private agency conducts both domestic adoptions and international adoptions.
- Private domestic adoption – this involves the adoption of children who are citizens of the United States. When a birth parent gives up all parental rights over a child, the private agency makes the child available for adoption and provides services to place the child with an adoptive family. Moreover, the adoption agency is also responsible for gathering all the necessary requirements and information about the parties.
- Private international adoption – this pertains to the adoption of children from other foreign countries and is primarily regulated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of State. A potential adoptive family covers all the costs necessary for the international adoption and they must meet all the prerequisites set by their state of residence and the country from which the potential adoptee will immigrate from. Furthermore, an adoptive family should work with an Accredited Adoption Service Provider, must possess an Adoptive Home Study that is carried out by a Hague-accredited adoption agency, and should submit an application for approval from the Department of State or USCIS.
Fees from private adoption agencies can range from anywhere between $5000 to as much as $30000, depending on the conditions. It is best to consult with an agency first to know what their fees are, how the payment method will be, and which services are covered by the fees.
Adoption through a public agency
A public adoption agency is one that receives funds from local, federal and state sources. In these agencies, a foster care and adoption system are usually in place. Generally, public adoption agencies accept requests from prospective adoptive families who would like to adopt sibling groups, special needs children or older children.
More often than not, the children that enter the system were either surrendered by their birth parents, were orphaned, or were victims of neglect or abuse, thereby terminating their parents’ rights over them. When a child enters the public welfare system, the end goal is to either reunite the child with the birth parent/s, to pass the child on to other relatives or to make the available child for adoption.
- Reunification – In reunification cases, the child is temporarily moved to a foster home to give the birth parent a chance to get things together and eventually reclaim his or her child. During a certain amount of time, the state offers services to both the birth parent, the child and the foster family.
- Kinship care – if reunification is not successful and the birth parent is incapable of taking care of the child, the agency’s next move will be to appeal to the child’s extended family and find someone who would like to assume the permanent responsibility of the child.
- Adoption – if the extended family has no interest in taking care of the child, the agency then aims to terminate the birth parent’s rights and put the child up for adoption. The foster family is asked if they would like to permanently adopt their foster child. If they refuse to do so, the agency will start looking for another prospective adoptive family to place the child in.
Once a new home is found for the child, he or she moves into this home. The family is given an “adjustment” period that is regulated by the agency, to see if the child is a good fit for the home. The agency then provides a recommendation to finalize the adoption.