What Are Adoption Consultants?
And Do You Actually Need One?
Do you feel overwhelmed by the adoption process? Many families considering adoption do — and with good reason. There is a lot involved in a successful adoption.
Which adoption agency should you work with? Which type of adoption should you choose? How can you complete your home study? How much is adoption going to cost? How will you find the right adoption opportunity? Will you have to travel for your baby? Do you need to hire an attorney? What about open adoption?
It’s a lot to consider, and every choice is important. With so much on the line, some families turn to adoption consultants for help. This type of adoption professional is somewhat new, and working with an adoption consultant is becoming more popular in some communities.
If this is something you are considering, you’ll want to research the advantages and disadvantages of adoption consultants before diving in.
What is an Adoption Consultant?
An adoption consultant is a person or organization who can be hired by an adoptive family to provide guidance throughout the adoption process. They make recommendations on things like adoption agencies, home study providers, adoption financing options and more. The role of an adoption consultant is part-guide, part-counselor and part-companion.
While adoption consultants can provide information and direction during the adoption process, they cannot actually provide any of the services needed in the adoption process. They exist outside of the work being done by adoption professionals and act as a third party. You can think of adoption consultants as a personal adoption coach.
When You Might Turn to an Adoption Consultant
When would an adoptive family consider turning to an adoption consultant? There are several different scenarios when a family may feel like this would be helpful.
Independent Adoptions: If you know the prospective birth mother personally and are hoping to complete an independent adoption, you could consider hiring an adoption consultant to guide you through the process of finalizing the adoption with an attorney.
When Working with Adoption Law Centers: Some adoption professionals do not have social service departments. Organizations like adoption law centers, adoption facilitators or adoption law firms focus almost exclusively on the legal side of adoption. If you are working with one of these organizations instead of a full-service adoption agency, an adoption consultant could help meet the more personal counseling need that your other professional will not. However, keep in mind that anyone can be an adoption consultant, which means these professionals often are not licensed as social workers or counselors. Most times, an adoption consultant’s counseling and support services will not match those provided by a licensed adoption agency.
When You Want to Apply with Multiple Agencies: Most adoption consultants use a strategy of applying to multiple adoption agencies in search of the right adoption opportunity. This approach is questionable, but is one that a family can seek out if they have the budget necessary to work with multiple professionals.
Understanding the Limits of Adoption Consultants
The motivation behind all of these varying situations is the same: a family feels overwhelmed by the adoption process. This is something any family that is adopting will feel at some point. But, are adoption consultants the most helpful option?
While the intention of adoption consultants is undoubtedly good, there are some causes for caution:
Absence of Regulation and Oversight
First and foremost, adoption consultants are not regulated in any way. Unlike a licensed adoption agency, there is no objective review of their past work or the type of advice they are giving. This doesn’t mean that adoption consultants are doing bad work, but it does mean that verifying the legitimacy of their work is difficult.
Difficulty Verifying Quality
Along the same lines, the quality of adoption consultants can vary drastically. Since there is no regulation or review, figuring out the quality of any given adoption consultant’s work is a hard thing to do. While an adoption consultant may claim things that sound good, like extremely low wait times, there is no way of verifying this information. You will need to ask many questions, carefully read adoption consultants’ reviews and seek out references from past clients to determine for yourself whether they will be trustworthy and helpful in your circumstances.
Lack of Services
Finally, it’s important to understand that adoption consultants can only give helpful information. They cannot perform the necessary tasks to complete an adoption, which means that at some point, a family will still need to hire another adoption professional to complete a placement legally. Often, full-service adoption agencies are able to fulfill the role of an adoption consultant and provide the services and support necessary for a successful adoption, so hiring a consultant is just an added (and unnecessary) expense.
How a Good Adoption Agency Can Fill the Role of Consultant
An adoption consultant, when you get down to it, is a person who has studied the adoption process and may be networked with adoption professionals. Through their knowledge and connections, they give advice. Is this necessary for families? Some would say yes. However, a full-service adoption agency can provide this same guidance while also being able to complete the adoption for you. This eliminates the need to jump between many different professionals during the adoption process.
When a family works with an adoption agency like American Adoptions, their adoption specialist is their consultant through the process. Adoption specialists are trained and certified. Their work is reviewed and held to high standards through state adoption laws and regulations. They can advise, counsel, encourage and support adoptive families throughout the adoption process while also completing the actual requirements needed in an adoption. A family’s adoption specialist will understand the ins and outs of their case better than anyone, and the adoption specialist is the best person to turn to for advice.
To learn more about how our adoption specialists guide families through the adoption process, or to begin your adoption process today, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time or request more free information online. A helpful adoption specialist will be happy to answer your questions.
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