While adoption law centers are owned by a licensed attorney, adoption facilitators are completely unlicensed and unregulated organizations. Both of these adoption professionals can provide matching services, but once a match is made, adoptive families will be required to find another professional to complete the legal work and provide adoption counseling services.
Law centers and facilitators also cannot provide many of the other services commonly available through adoption agencies or adoption attorneys, such as adoption plan development or post-placement contact services. Some adoption law centers or facilitators may be able to refer you to other adoption professionals who are able to provide these services.
Why work with a law center or adoption facilitator?
There are several considerations to take into account before choosing to work with an adoption law center or adoption facilitator. Here are some of the top pros and cons of working with these adoption professionals:
- They often provide good matching services. Because adoption facilitators and law centers are often only responsible for matching adoptive families with prospective birth parents, they often do a good job providing these services. They often work with birthmothers and adoptive couples across all 50 states and may even be able to find a match quicker than other adoption professionals.
- They don’t provide as many adoption services as other adoption professionals, such as adoption agencies and law firms. Adoption facilitators and law centers tend to bow out of the adoption process once the family is matched, leaving it to the adoptive family and birth parents to find their own legal representation and finalize the adoption on their own. These organizations lack a social services department and do not provide counseling and support services to adoptive families or expectant mothers.
- They are not annually reviewed by a government agency. These organizations cannot be effectively regulated, monitored or reviewed, and adoptive families often rely on nothing more than client reviews found online when choosing an adoption law center or facilitator to work with. There is no guarantee that a law center or facilitator’s services comply with your state’s adoption laws, and these organizations are even illegal in more than 15 states.
- Adoption costs tend to be high in proportion to the services a family receives. Because you will need to hire additional professionals to provide necessary adoption services after a match is made, you will likely end up paying more for a completed adoption. Families will rarely receive a refund in the event of a disruption, and some contracts will expire if a match is not found in a certain amount of time. Because these organizations lack a social services department skilled in evaluating, educating and guiding birth mothers, families are often matched with birth mothers who aren’t strongly committed to adoption, aren’t emotionally prepared and don’t understand the processes, increasing the chances of the adoption disrupting. Their cost estimates rarely reflect that their clients often experience several disruptions and therefore can lose thousands of dollars before an adoption succeeds, meaning those losses will be added to the fees for a successful adoption.
Who adopts through adoption law centers and facilitators?
Adoptive families each have their own reasons for deciding to work with their chosen adoption professional. Clients who choose to work with adoption law centers or adoption facilitators:
- want to adopt quickly
- are not worried about financial budget or losses
- are willing to handle several stages of the adoption process themselves and are comfortable in doing so
- want to be gender-specific
- want control of the counseling and legal process of the adoption process
- have been misled by a law center or facilitator’s marketing information
- want an organization to advertise for them nationally
- plan on spending evenings and weekends answering their phone to counsel birth parents themselves
Choosing an adoption law center or adoption facilitator
If you have decided to work with an adoption law center or facilitator, there are several questions you may want to ask the facilitators you are considering before making your final decision:
- Is your organization certified or licensed?
- Who is your organization regulated by?
- What services does your organization offer other than matching services?
- After a match, how does your organization stay involved in the adoption?
- How big is your social services department?
- Are your social workers licensed, or do they have degrees in social work, counseling or family services?
- On average, how much does an adoption cost with your organization?
- If an adoption disrupts, do we get our money back?
- How long does my contract last? What if I don’t find a match within that time frame?
Because these adoption professionals are unregulated and uncertified, each adoption facilitator or law center will likely vary widely in their stability and the services they offer. You should carefully research all of your options before entering into a relationship with an adoption law center or facilitator.
Adoption law firms and facilitators can help you find a match with a prospective birth mother, but counseling services and support may be provided by an unlicensed and untrained staff, if the organization offers these services at all. An adoption attorney will need to step in and take over the adoption after a match is made.