Families seeking to adopt in the United States have different options for proceeding with the adoption process. Many families choose to go through an adoption professional to support them through the process while others may opt for a private or independent adoption. This article discusses the pros and cons of using an adoption provider versus pursuing an independent adoption.
What is Independent Adoption?
Independent adoption is when a family adopts a baby without going through an adoption professional. In an independent adoption, prospective adoptive families may connect with a birthmother through their personal community network, social media, or another form of outreach, such as advertising.
Families who pursue independent adoption must still meet all legal and state requirements to adopt and pass the adoption home study. Additionally, because independent adoption does not utilize an adoption professional, it is the responsibility of the prospective adoptive family to bring a child into their home in a way that aligns with standard legal, ethical, and safe practices.
Something you should note is that, as of this writing, independent adoption is legal in all states except Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and North Dakota.
What is the difference between an adoption professional and independent adoption?
When adopting independently versus going through an adoption professional, a prospective adoptive family navigates the adoption themselves without the support of an organization or individual. When you go through an adoption professional, you have the support of industry experts who can guide you through the different aspects of the complicated adoption process. An independent adoption requires a much more active role in finding and connecting with a birthmother and going through the adoption process.
What are the pros and cons of working with an adoption professional?
The biggest pro of working with an adoption professional is that you have the support you need throughout the adoption process. This means you have an interlocutor to connect you with a birthmother, someone to ensure you are meeting all requirements, and most importantly, a supportive shoulder to lean on throughout the process.
Another huge pro of working with an adoption professional is that they have a network of other professionals they work with and can refer you to, like lawyers and social workers, that are needed for different services as you go through the adoption process.
Additionally, when you work with an adoption professional, you pay for those critical aspects of the adoption process to be taken care of for you and you can rest assured that all legal requirements will be met. For birthmothers, there is also an added bonus of adoption professional’s ability to screen and certify prospective adoptive families. Working with an adoption professional can give you a better chance of smooth sailing through the adoption process.
A con of working with an adoption professional is that the time frame to adopt a baby may be longer than with an independent adoption. However, it is important to note that even with independent adoption, timeframes can be unpredictable.
Something else to consider is that yes, working with an adoption professional can cost more than going the independent adoption route. However, for most families, the support and resources they gain from working with professionals is worth the extra money.
What are the pros and cons of independent adoption?
Independent adoption can be an ideal option for families adopting children of family or friends. In kinship adoption, there is no added step of publishing a profile and advertising to locate a potential birthmother.
A con of independent adoption is that if you take this route you don’t have the support of an adoption professional who can help you navigate the process. Going through an adoption process requires a whole team of people, such as an attorney, social worker to conduct the home study, a counselor, and even a media specialist to help create any adoption advertisements and materials. If you are pursuing independent adoption, these are all professionals you will have to independently hire.
Another con related to independent adoption is that the longer it takes to connect with a potential birthmother, the higher your costs will be. In an independent adoption, the prospective adoptive family has to advertise online, which is very expensive and intensely competitive. When a family works with an adoption professional like LifeLong Adoptions, they get nationwide exposure for a flat program fee and have more opportunities to connect with a birthmother.
Is independent adoption cheaper?
It is often said that independent adoption is cheaper than going through an adoption professional. This is actually a myth. While yes, you do save some on the agency fee, you will still incur many costs associated with the process. In an independent adoption, the prospective adoptive family is still responsible for hiring all professionals and for paying all expenses for the birthmother. A prospective adoptive family is also responsible for paying for all advertising fees until they connect with a birthmother. Due to this, it is actually possible that you will end up paying more money if you go with an independent adoption. This depends on the situation but is something you should be prepared for should you take the independent adoption route.
Are adoption consultants worth it?
A critical piece of information you need to know when considering hiring an adoption consultant is that they are not licensed or regulated like adoption professionals are. Additionally, they do not work with birthmothers and cannot help you connect with one.
With that said, some prospective adoptive families do hire adoption consultants to help guide them through the adoption process. Often they can help families navigate adoption opportunities strictly in an advisory capacity as they are not lawyers of licensed social workers. Their role is really to provide education and support for adoptive families, not to provide the necessary services you need to go through the adoption process. Whether or not an adoption consultant is worth the cost is up to you and how you and your family would like to proceed with the adoption process.
What option is best for my family?
Only you can decide what adoption route is best for you and your family. Something to keep in mind is that every adoption journey looks different. One of the best things you can do is research your options, including thoroughly researching adoption professionals in your area and independent adoption options so you can make the best choice for you. Remember you are in charge of your adoption journey and all of the decisions you make will bring you one step closer to the family of your dreams!