Definition – 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 birth mother on behalf of their adoptive clients, much like adoption law centers. Once a birth mother selects a family, the facilitator will refer both the adoptive family and birth family to a local professional (a law firm or licensed adoption agency) and remove themselves from the rest of the adoption process.
Advantages for Adoption Facilitators:
- Good facilitators can be skilled at locating pregnant women considering adoption.
- Waiting times can be lower than many professionals.
Disadvantages for Adoption Facilitators:
- Adoption facilitators are not annually or periodically reviewed by an objective person, government or organization.
- Adoption facilitators only match birth parents and adoptive families. The adoptive family must find a local provider to perform adoption services. This leads to an inconsistent experience and causes more adoptions to fail.
- Once referred to a local adoption professional, adoptive families must pay more, and their fees are at risk if the adoption doesn’t work out.
- Like with adoption law centers, families get frustrated with 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.
- Unlike many adoption agencies, adoption facilitators often work with birth mothers who need significant help with living expenses (well over $10,000). Higher living expenses mean more finances are at risk if the adoption disrupts.
- Like law centers, an adoption facilitator’s cost estimates are best-case scenario 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.
- Some adoption facilitator contracts expire.
- Facilitators for adoption usually provide less than a fourth of the services of licensed agencies, and yet clients often end up spending more money.
- Adoption facilitators do not have the skillset to properly assess birth mothers, which leads to more failed adoptions.
- Most facilitators work alone or as part of a two- or three-person adoption facilitator agency, which makes them overworked, burned out and not responsive to clients in a timely fashion.
- More than 15 states have specific laws against the use of adoption facilitators.
- Facilitators for adoption can easily go out of business with no repercussions.
- States like California have even developed specific certification to help regulate these entities, but certification has done little to regulate these providers.
- Facilitators for adoption lack qualified staff to provide the proper counseling to adoptive families and birth parents as they go through the adoption process.
- Adoption facilitators typically lack expertise in the complexities and differences in adoption law state to state. They sometimes give ill advice as they try to match adoptive couples with birth parents.
Clients who use facilitators:
- Families who are focused on waiting 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.
- Families who wish to be gender-specific.
- Families who want control of the counseling and legal process of the adoption process.
- Families who may be misled by an adoption facilitator’s marketing information.
- Families who want an organization to advertise for them nationally.
- Families who are ok with spending evenings and weekends answering their phone to counsel birth parents themselves.
How do you find a good facilitator?
Without an independent government body reviewing their files, there is no organization ensuring an adoption facilitator is truthful. Adoption agencies, meanwhile, have their marketing information, case files and personnel files reviewed. Many adoptive families feel less comfortable with an adoption facilitator versus an agency simply because facilitators lack the checks and balances that come from national and state adoption regulations.
Because there is no oversight, your questions should be more probing and you may wish to ask for the answers in writing. Read Questions to Ask an Adoption Professional to learn what to ask an adoption facilitator or other adoption professional.