Private or independent adoption is most often thought of as an arrangement made without an adoption agency. It typically involves initial contacts made directly between the pregnant woman and the adoptive parents, or by the pregnant woman and an attorney, depending on State law. Private adoption is legal in all States except Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. In these States, however, all parties are able to achieve placement should they work with an authorized or licensed agency in the state.
It has been a growing concern of many adoption professionals, adoptive parents and birth parents that the private adoption route is handled without involving an authorized or licensed adoption agency.
It is crucial that both birth parents and adoptive parents receive education, counseling and support. It is important that compassionate and experienced social workers be involved in the adoption process. Adoption agencies tend to be the best equipped in handling the every day needs as well as the high risk or crisis situations of both prospective adoptive parents and expectant birth parents.
In 1986, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This Act established the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, which is currently known as the Child Welfare Information Gateway. https://www.childwelfare.gov/ In an article about Private Adoption, they issue: Attorney-led adoptions do not necessarily prepare adoptive parents or birthparents for the feelings that accompany the adoption process or the lifelong issues associated with it. Some States do not require counseling before a child is placed through an independent adoption. Adoptive parents may consider this a positive aspect of the process because they would save on the cost of the birthparents’ counseling. But it can become a negative aspect if the birth parents receive conflicting advice from friends or relatives on different questions that come up rather than solid advice from an experienced professional counselor. An adoption attorney may know the legal issues but not necessarily the psychological ones.
It is also critical that all parties be represented separately. The lines of legal representation are sometimes blurred when an adoption agency is not a party.
An important component of private adoption is advertising. This involves the prospective adoptive parents from placing ads in newspapers or participating in online forms of advertisement in the hope that they will meet a pregnant woman considering adoption. Not all states permit advertising.
Adoption STAR has compiled a brief synopsis on every state and whether or not adoptive parents may advertise in that state. There are additional states that do not allow private individuals to advertise but permit advertising by licensed persons or agencies. Click here to access the state-by-state guide.
All of the services that are traditionally provided to the parties in an agency adoption can also be provided in a private adoption through the Agency Assisted Private Adoption route.
It is wonderful that there is more than one legal and ethical way in which to accomplish an adoption. Both tracks – the Agency Assisted Private Adoption and the Traditional Agency Adoption track – serve legitimate purposes. Neither program is the right answer for every person, however there is no disadvantage to exploring both options and deciding to utilize both methods!
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