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Adoption Facilitators: What You Need to Know

The Risks of Working with These Professionals

Who should you work with during an adoption? This is a question any family considering adoption will have to find an answer to. That answer will vary from family to family, because each will have unique needs that are better suited with certain organizations.

While researching the different types of professionals who can help a family complete an adoption, you may have come across adoption facilitators. For many, it will be the first time running across this type of company. What is an adoption facilitator? Is it the same as an adoption agency? Should you work with an adoption facilitator to complete your adoption?

This guide to adoption facilitators will take a look at these questions and more. Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful in determining which kind of adoption professional to work with.

What Is an Adoption Facilitator?

Adoption facilitators are unlicensed and unregulated companies who match prospective adoptive families with women considering adoption. Adoption facilitators are usually small organizations with one or two staff members who often have no counseling background. Most adoption facilitators advertise to locate a prospective birth mother on behalf of their adoptive clients, much like adoption law centers.

In the adoption process, “advertising” typically means finding a way to get prospective birth mothers to see adoptive family profiles. Once a birth mother selects a family, the facilitator will refer both the adoptive family and birth family to a local professional (like a licensed adoption agency) and remove themselves from the rest of the adoption process. Adoption facilitators have been outlawed in some states, so this may not even be an option depending on where the adoptive family lives.

Advantages of Adoption Facilitators:

Depending on your situation and your needs, it is possible to find some advantages to working with an adoption facilitator. However, as you will see, there are many more causes for concern than there are potential advantages.

A couple potential advantages of working with an adoption facilitator are:

  • Advertising: Good facilitators can be skilled at locating pregnant women considering adoption.

  • Wait time: Waiting times can be lower than some other professionals.

Disadvantages of Adoption Facilitators:

There are many potential disadvantages of working with adoption facilitators that any hopeful adoptive parents should consider. These disadvantages include:

  • No regulation or oversight: Adoption facilitators are not annually or periodically reviewed by an objective person, government or organization. This lack of oversight can lead to potentially questionable methods and practices. In contrast, a licensed adoption agency has many levels of review by objective persons and organizations to ensure they are operating in a safe, ethical and legal way.

  • Lack of necessary services: Adoption facilitators only match birth parents and adoptive families. There are many more aspects of the adoption process besides finding the right adoption opportunity, and facilitators are not able to handle any of these needs. The adoptive family must find a local provider to perform adoption services. This leads to an inconsistent experience and can create a higher likelihood of the adoption failing.

  • Higher costs and financial risk: Once referred to a local adoption professional, adoptive families must pay more on top of what has already been paid to the facilitator, and their fees are at risk if the adoption doesn’t work out.

  • Lack of counseling and support: Like with adoption law centers, families often become frustrated with adoption facilitators because they lack a social service department skilled in evaluating, educating and guiding birth mothers through the adoption process. As a result, families are often matched with birth mothers who aren’t strongly committed to adoption, aren’t emotionally prepared or don’t understand the process.

  • Inaccurate fee estimates: An adoption facilitator’s cost estimates are best-case scenarios and rarely reflect that clients may experience several disruptions and lose thousands of dollars before an adoption succeeds. Those losses will be added to the fees for a successful adoption later.

  • Recurring costs: Some adoption facilitator contracts expire, meaning there is a time window to find an adoption opportunity, and then the family will have to pay more fees after this window closes.

  • Less value for your investment: Adoption facilitators usually provide less than a fourth of the services of licensed agencies, and yet clients often end up spending more money.

  • Slower response times: Adoption facilitator organizations are often very small. This can mean that the staff is overworked, which can lead to less availability and slower response times. This can prove detrimental to the adoption when there is an immediate need.

  • Illegal practices: More than 15 states have specific laws against the use of adoption facilitators.

  • Potential for sudden shutdown: Facilitators for adoption can easily go out of business without warning, leaving hopeful adoptive families in limbo with no repercussions.

  • Lack of legal knowledge: Adoption facilitators typically lack expertise in the complexities and differences in adoption law from state to state. They sometimes give ill advice as they try to match adoptive couples with birth parents.

Adoptive Families Who Might Consider an Adoption Facilitator:

  • Families who are focused on wait times and plan to join several organizations.

  • Families who have a high and flexible budget.

  • Families who are willing to handle several stages of the adoption process on their own.

  • Families who wish to be gender-specific.

  • Families who want control of the counseling and legal parts of the adoption process.

  • Families who want an organization to advertise for them nationally.

  • Families who are prepared to take on some of the work typically handled by social workers, like spending evenings and weekends answering their phone to counsel birth parents.

How Can You Find a Good Adoption Facilitator?

While there are good people working for adoption facilitators, it can be difficult to find a good facilitator due to the lack of oversight and regulation. Without an independent government body reviewing their files, there is no organization ensuring an adoption facilitator is operating in the best way.

Adoption agencies, on the other hand, have their marketing information, case files and personnel files reviewed annually in the state(s) where they are licensed. Many adoptive families feel more comfortable with an adoption agency versus a facilitator simply because facilitators lack the checks and balances that come from national and state adoption regulations. The one potential advantage of working with an adoption facilitator is the possibility of solid marketing services and a short wait time — but why work with a facilitator when you can get those same benefits, and many more, by working with a national adoption agency?

Because there is no oversight, your questions to an adoption facilitator should be more probing, and you may wish to ask for the answers in writing. If you would like to speak to an adoption professional about choosing the right adoption organization to work with, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time or request more information about our agency online.

Disclaimer
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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