How are Adoption Organizations Regulated?

Regulations for adoption organizations are of the utmost importance. Because adoption concerns the placement and wellbeing of an infant or child, these regulations help protect all parties involved and ensure that adoption placements are legal and safe. American Adoptions strongly advises prospective adoptive families to use an adoption professional who is subject to adoption regulations and annual review.

How are adoption organizations regulated?

Adoption organization types

Are they licensed or certified? By whom?

Are their files periodically reviewed by the government to ensure they are serving their clients by following adoption regulations and state law?

Law firms

Yes, by state bar


Law centers

The attorney who owns the company is licensed, and the company may be certified.





Local adoption agencies



National adoption agencies




What does a state bar license or certification mean for an adoption organization?

The firm or the attorneys who practice at the firm are licensed by their state to perform legal services in that state only. If the attorney provides poor services in the state where he or she holds a bar license, then a bar complaint can be filed, but an attorney certification or license requires no periodic reviews by state licensing, unless a complaint is filed. 

If your adoption occurs outside of the state where they reside, they are not licensed to practice law or provide legal services in another state and must refer you to another law firm or law center located in that state. Unless you are located in the state where the organization resides and holds certification, the law firm or center you first hired has to step out of the picture.

If an attorney or law center is experienced in adoption, does that mean they will provide good service?

Experience in adoption does not reflect the quality of services performed. An attorney might be experienced in stepparent adoptions. Many adoption attorneys also dabble in other areas of family law, which may hinder their ability to respond quickly to adoptive clients’ needs. Attorneys can be good at the legal paperwork, but some struggle to provide services, like counseling, or staff with social work experience like that found in adoption agencies.

How are licensed agencies files reviewed?

Every year, state licensing comes out to go over an agency’s files and operations. They review client case files, personnel files, financial audits and informational materials and verify regulatory and state law compliance. State licensing ensures agencies are compliant with state laws and adoption regulations so that they are able to properly and safely serve their clients.

Is it better for an agency to be licensed in many states?

Yes, this means they are reviewed by each state multiple times annually. Meanwhile those who are licensed in only one state are reviewed once annually. Being licensed in multiple states means an agency has broader restrictions and guidelines to follow, as adoption regulations vary by state. Although multiple licenses mean more attention to detail for adoption professionals, most clients like the extra safety and dependability it creates. When it comes to something as important as adoption, every extra layer of safety is extremely important for clients.

Is it helpful if the adoption organization is part of the Better Business Bureau?

No, the Better Business Bureau only shows general complaints and does not ensure an adoption organization is meeting state laws or regulations. The BBB does not have any profound knowledge of adoption regulations and practices. The BBB is a company that reports on companies that have paid their annual dues and fees. State-licensed adoption agencies are regulated by several governmental bodies that understand how agencies and adoption practices work.

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