An overview of costs and procedures that will probably be involved when you choose an agency adoption
There are a number of benefits that come with choosing and agency to help with your adoption. For instance, agencies are very good and experienced in finding children and matching them to the best families. In addition, agencies are quite experienced with the various legal matters that go along with adoption and can really speed up the process. In most instances, an adoption agency can help adopting parents with a wide range of services, like finding the biological parent of the child to organizing and filing the adoption paperwork. In addition, adoption agencies can help with a number of other items like home inspections, getting the necessary consents and even helping parents understand various state laws that deal with adoptions.
Private and Public Adoption Agencies
Almost all adoption agencies can be broken down into two groups -- private and public agencies. One of the main benefits of a private adoption agency is that it will help you with and provide the extensive counseling that normally goes along with adoptions. In general, counseling through private agencies is available to adoptive parents, children (if old enough) and even the biological parents of the child. Adoption can be a very emotional event in a person's life and counseling can really help the process run smoothly. In addition, counseling has the benefit of protecting the adoptive parent later on in the process. Generally speaking, biological parents that do not receive counseling have a higher probability of not signing the paperwork when it comes time for the adoption to take place.
However, along with the advantages that come with private agencies, there are also disadvantages. Private agencies are often very selective when it comes to the parents that they work with as there are many parents that are looking to adopt and the private agencies have the pick of the litter. In addition, private agencies often only find infants, or pregnant women that do not want their babies. This means that there are generally few non-infant children that are adopted through private agencies. Private agencies use many screening factors to pick and choose which parents they like to work with. Typically speaking, these factors include:
- Marital status
- Sexual Orientation
- Personal History, and
- Family size
Public agencies, unlike private agencies, normally have many children that need to be adopted. However, many of these children are older (having spent their lives in various group homes and foster families) or have special needs. Couples that are looking to adopt a newborn baby or an infant will often not have much luck going through public agencies. In addition, public agencies do not often have the resources to provide other services, such as counseling, that will help the adoption process. However, with these fewer services, public agencies can charge much less than private adoption agencies. Adopting through a public agency may even be free, or the agency could even provide you with a small stipend during the process, whereas private agencies can cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Parents that use agencies to adopt will generally find the process much easier if they retain the services of an attorney that has experience with the adoption paperwork. Even though there is no requirement of having legal counsel during the adoption hearings, it is still useful as hearings often become legally complex. When you look for an attorney to represent you during your adoption, you should look for one that has dealt with a number of adoption proceedings and has some experience with contested adoptions, as well.
Expenses of Agency Adoptions
If you choose a private agency for your adoption, you can expect to pay a high premium for their services. If you have been matched with a pregnant woman through the agency, you may end up paying for the medical and living expenses of the mother during her pregnancy. Additionally, because it is a private agency, the costs to you will also go towards paying the salaries of the adoption agency works, as well as the agency's overhead.
How much a private agency will charge for an adoption is dependant upon their fees structure. Some agencies charge a flat fee for each adoption. This fee can vary depending on whether the child is young or not even born yet. However, according to some sources, an adoption through a private agency can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $40,000.
If you choose to go through a public agency for your adoption, you will probably not be required to pay any fees, as these agencies typically receive their funding through the state.
Finally, aside from adoption agency fees, keep in mind that you may still have to hire and pay an attorney to prepare the adoption paperwork and attend court for your adoption proceedings. Paying an attorney anywhere between $50 and $500 an hour will add to the cost of your adoption.
Waiting Period and Agency Adoptions
Some agencies will require a waiting period before a child can be placed in the home of his new adoptive parents. This waiting period is usually in place to ensure that all the necessary consents have been given and signed and for any other formalities to be taken care of. During this waiting period, the child may be placed in foster care, depending upon state law. Many adoptive parents do not want their child to go into foster care and often opt for a "legal risk placement." This is where the child is placed in the new home despite not having all the consents given. The downside here is that if the birth mother decides not to give her consent, the child will removed from the adoptive home.
Finding the Right Adoption Agency
Adoption agencies have become quite popular and there are thousands to choose from all across the United States. If you live in a densely populated state, like California, you will have more options in adoption agencies than if you live in a less densely populated state. However, no matter where you live, you will probably have to do at least some searching in order to find an adoption agency that you can work with. A good place to start is by looking at the Child Welfare Information Gateway. In addition, if you know anyone that adopted through an agency, it would be good to talk with them to discuss their experience.
If you have found an agency that you think might work for you, you should be sure to check their reputation as well as accreditation. Your state should have a licensing department for adoption agencies. You should contact this department to make sure that the adoption agency's license is current and under no conditions.
There are a number of American adoption agencies that specialize in international adoptions. Even though you are allowed to directly adopt from a foreign country, many people choose to go through an agency, as it can be quite difficult and risky to do it yourself. Agencies that specialize in international adoptions will know the relevant immigration laws as well as the laws of the foreign nation that you are adopting from.
According to the immigration laws of the United States, any parents seeking to adopt from another nation must either be married or single and over the age of 25. Additionally, the parents seeking to adopt must file a Orphan Petition form with the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) to show that the child's parents have died, disappeared or abandoned the child, or that the one remaining parent cannot care for the child and consents to the adoption. If the foreign child has two parents, he or she cannot qualify for international adoption.
In addition to the Orphan Petition, there are some other documents that you will need to submit before you can proceed with an international adoption. One of these documents must be a favorable home study report from the adoption agency you choose. If the USCIS approves your petition (and there are no other factors that will stop the adoption), you can proceed to get the child an immigration visa.
One of the good things about international adoption is that much of the required paperwork can be completed even before you have picked out the child that you want to adopt. Indeed, it is often a good idea to complete the paperwork before you select the child because it can delay the adoption process if you wait to file it.
Lastly, some states have their own pre-adoption laws that you should look into before embarking on an international adoption. For instance, some states require that there be written consent of the birth mother before the state will approve the entry of the child into the state. To this end, some adoption agencies recommend that parents who adopt from another nation also adopt under state laws when the child enters the state. By doing so, the child should also get a birth certificate that is in English.