There are a few different ways to adopt a child. The categories can be split by locale: Is it a domestic or international adoption? It can be split by age: Is it an infant or older child adoption? Or, it can be split by adoption procedure: independent, facilitated or agency adoption.
There are two different adoption agencies: public and private. Private agencies are state-licensed organizations that usually place infants and facilitate the adoption proceedings between a birth mother and adoptive parents. These adoptions may cost anywhere from $5,000 to over $30,000. The fees will cover agency services as well as birth mother expenses.
Independent adoptions are not too different from private agencies in terms of potential cost, but they work differently in principle. Independent adoptions are handled by an attorney or facilitator instead of a case worker. They play a larger role in independent adoptions than they do in agency adoptions, and some birth mothers may feel working independent of an agency removes the feeling of having a "middle man."
The other option for agency adoption is from a government-run public agency. Public agencies generally handle the adoption of older children from the United States foster care system. These children range from under a year in age to over 18 years old. One of the biggest differences between public and private agencies outside of the children each places is the price gap. Public adoptions are sometimes called free adoptions. One of the only expenses associated with these are home studies, which cost a few thousand dollars. Even then, there are many state and government subsidies that reimburse up to $2,500 in home study fees for public adoptions. This is in part used to give incentive to public adoption due to the difficulty of placing a child from the foster system with adoptive parents as the children are more likely than their peers to have special emotional needs or behavioral problems, as reported by the chartbook Adoption USA.
When it comes to finding an agency that can meet your adoption needs, speaking with health care providers, counselors or browsing through online photo listings are all great ways to initiate contact. When working with an agency, a future adopter or birth mother should check the Better Business Bureau for any signs of customer dissatisfaction. It's generally more financially stabilizing to adopt from an agency than independently, however, that's what makes the customizable experience of modern adoption more universal than it's ever been before.
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FCW: As more agencies experience the tangible benefits of the technology and demand increases, the market follows, and suddenly agencies are facing not one or two vendor options but dozens.
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.