Family Law

Assistance with Adoption: Attorneys, Agencies or Facilitators

If you seek to adopt a child, you will be faced with a choice: use a licensed adoption agency or use an independent adoption facilitator who acts as an intermediary between you and the child's birth parents.

You may select a lawyer as your adoption facilitator, although it isn't required. All states regulate adoption agencies and adoption facilitators, although specific laws vary from state to state.

An Adoption Agency Is Not Your Advocate

An adoption agency must be licensed by the state in which it operates. It is closely monitored and must comply with a strict code of ethics. Unlike adoption attorneys and other adoption facilitators, an adoption agency is not your advocate.

Although the organization will guide you through the adoption process, it will match you with a child only if it considers you a suitable parent for that particular child. Many facets of your life will be investigated, including personal matters such as your age and marital status. The adoption agency will conduct a thorough home study.

Working With an Adoption Attorney

An adoption attorney must be licensed by the state to practice law, but expertise in adoption law is not a requirement. If you decide to retain an attorney to handle your adoption, make sure that the individual has successfully handled adoptions in the past. Some attorneys belong to professional organizations that offer special certification in adoption.

An Adoption Facilitator May Save Money

An unlicensed party such as a church or a family friend may act as an adoption facilitator, as long as no payment is received for providing this service. This prohibition does not apply in a few states, such as California and Pennsylvania, which allow adoption facilitators to accept payment for their services. You may save money by using an adoption facilitator, but exercise great care in selecting one, especially if payment is requested. Use of a disreputable adoption facilitator may jeopardize your case when it comes time to finalize the adoption or might even involve you in an illegal, black-market adoption.

International Adoptions Present Additional Challenges

There are significant legal barriers to adopting a child from abroad. You must work with either a U.S.-based international adoption agency or an adoption agency or facilitator in another country.

The adoption will be subject to U.S. and state law, and you must arrange for the child to be issued a U.S. visa. An international adoption agency based in the Unites States should be able to handle these matters for you.

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