Definition- Adoption law centers, corporations that are owned by a licensed attorney, have become more prevalent in the last several years. Unlike a law firm, most adoption law centers refer their clients to separate law firms for the legal services. In function, most adoption law centers operate like an adoption facilitator, who advertises to locate a birth mother on behalf of their adoptive clients. 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 of Adoption Law Centers:
- Law centers, like facilitators, often have large advertising budgets devoted to reaching out to birth mothers across all 50 states.
- Waiting times are often lower than most adoption professionals.
- The words “adoption law center” in the company title provides comfort to their clients.
Disadvantages of Adoption Law Centers:
- Like adoption facilitators, an adoption law center’s files are not annually or periodically reviewed by an objective person, government or organization. While a law center may be certified by a state bar association, they will only review the work of the attorney who owns the practice if a complaint is filed. Since the attorney who owns the law center does not provide legal services in other states, he or she may not be reviewed. So if attorneys in other states do not properly do their job for a law center’s clients, it will not adversely affect the law center’s certification. With no objective file review, the law center’s services cannot be properly monitored or regulated. Learn how adoption organizations are regulated here.
- Most adoption law centers are involved in the early stages of the adoption process. This inconsistency leads to more failed adoptions and emotional and financial disappointments.
- As with adoption facilitators, families can become frustrated with law centers 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.
- Adoption law center cost estimates are often best-case scenario and rarely reflect that clients may experience several disruptions and can lose thousands of dollars before an adoption succeeds. Those losses will be added to the fees for a successful adoption later.
- Some states feel that adoption law centers try to provide services in states where they are not licensed to do so. You should check with each state's attorney general's office to determine if investigations are ongoing.
- Adoption law centers typically provide less than half of the services of adoption agencies, and yet, charge higher fees than many full-service adoption agencies.
- Adoption law centers can attract birth mothers focused on high living expenses, thus leading to increased financial risk in a disruption.
- Some law centers have advertising contracts that expire, so you may pay double for advertising.
- States, such as California, have passed laws to regulate law centers and facilitators, but it is still unclear whether law centers will have to comply with such regulations. Even then, the regulations may not protect clients who join these organizations.
- Many law centers lack qualified staff to provide proper counseling to adoptive families and birth parents as they go through the adoption process.
- Law centers 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.
Types of clients who choose to work with an adoption law center:
- Families who want to adopt quickly.
- Families who are not worried about financial budget or losses.
- Families who are willing to handle several stages of the adoption process.
- Families who want to be gender-specific.
- Families who want control of counseling and legal aspects of the adoption process.
- 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 adoption law center?
Without an independent government body reviewing their files, there is no organization ensuring that adoption law centers are truthful. Adoption agencies, meanwhile, have their marketing information, case files and personnel files reviewed. Because there is no oversight for adoption law centers, your questions should be more probing and you may wish to ask for law center policies in writing.
Read Questions to Ask an Adoption Professional to learn what to ask an adoption law center or other adoption professional.