There are a lot of factors to take into account when choosing an adoption professional. You’ll want to consider each professional’s costs, of course, as well as the services they provide in exchange for those fees. You’ll probably read reviews online, and you may reach out to certain agencies and attorneys to ask specific questions about whether or not they can meet your particular needs.
One thing you may not have considered, though, is how each adoption professional is regulated. Different types of professionals are subject to different adoption regulations — and it’s important to understand what those regulations mean if you want to make an informed decision about the adoption professional you choose.
Why Adoption Professionals Are Regulated
Because adoption involves the placement of children, it’s crucial that the process is well regulated. States have developed licensing standards to regulate child-placing organizations and ensure the safety of everyone involved in the adoption process — especially vulnerable children.
Hopeful adoptive parents and prospective birth mothers should always work with regulated adoption professionals. By working with a professional that is subject to adoption regulations and annual review, you can help ensure that your adoption is completed safely, legally and ethically.
How Adoption Professionals Are Regulated
The way an adoption professional is regulated will depend on the type of organization it is:
- Adoption Attorneys and Law Firms: Legal professionals licensed by state bar to provide legal services in that state.
- Adoption Law Centers: Companies that may be certified and are owned by a licensed attorney. Not subject to the same licensing standards or reviews required of licensed adoption agencies.
- Adoption Facilitators: Unlicensed matching professionals whose practices are illegal in many states.
- Local Adoption Agencies: Licensed by the state in which they operate. Licenses are periodically reviewed by the government to ensure their practices comply with adoption regulations and state law.
- National Adoption Agencies: Usually licensed by multiple states to provide adoption services across the country. Licenses are periodically reviewed by various state governments to ensure their practices comply with all applicable adoption regulations and state laws.
It’s important to note that a national adoption agency does not necessarily need to be licensed in your state in order to work with you. National agencies work with expectant mothers and adoptive families in all 50 states, but may only be licensed in a handful of them. These professionals may be able to provide additional adoption services (such as home studies) in the states where they are licensed.
How Licensed Agencies Are Reviewed
Licensed adoption agencies are subject to annual reviews performed by the state department(s) responsible for licensing. Each year, an agency’s files and operations will be reviewed by state licensing authorities to verify compliance with state laws and adoption regulations.
If an agency is licensed in multiple states, its files and operations will be reviewed multiple times annually — once by each state in which the agency is licensed. Because adoption regulations vary by state, this means that agencies licensed in more than one state must follow more restrictions and guidelines. This creates an extra layer of protection for clients that choose to work with regional and national agencies licensed in multiple states.
How to Know if Your Professional is Regulated
If you have questions about your professional’s licenses or certifications, you can always contact their licensing authorities to confirm that the agency is in good standing.
Knowing how different adoption organizations are licensed can help you decide which professional is best for you — and knowing that your adoption professional is complying with all state laws and regulations can provide the peace of mind you need and deserve throughout the adoption process.