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Adoption Social Workers: What You Need to Know

How Your Adoption Specialist Will Support You

Adoption is a wonderful way to build your family. But, it’s not always an easy path. There can be challenges during your adoption journey. That’s why you will need a helpful guide to relieve any stress and answer any questions you have.

Adoption social workers are the heart of the adoption process. Without an adoption specialist, prospective birth parents and hopeful adoptive families would be left struggling through a process that can be challenging to complete on their own.

The expertise and professionalism an adoption social worker brings are vital, but it’s not available with every adoption professional. As a family considering adoption, if you’re wondering where to find an adoption social worker or why you need one to complete an adoption, you’ll find your answers in this guide to adoption social workers.

For more free information about how an adoption social worker can help you, talk to one today when you call 1-800-ADOPTION or when you fill out our online contact form now.

Who is an Adoption Social Worker?

An adoption social worker, sometimes called an adoption agent or adoption specialist, is a certified and licensed professional who provides emotional support and counseling, and facilitates the adoption process for the adoption triad:

  • The birth parents

  • The adoptive parents

  • The child

Because this professional provides counseling, case management and general oversight throughout the process, you might think of your adoption worker as an “adoption coordinator.” An adoption social worker plays a vital role in a successful placement and can specialize in many types of adoption, such as:

These adoption specialists give their all so that prospective birth parents, families and children can experience the life-changing process of adoption in a safe, ethical and legal way. Their support should always be valued and encouraged.

How Are Adoption Social Workers Trained?

The job requirements of an adoption social worker aren’t easy. By the very nature of working in a complex field with unique individuals, they never know what the next day will hold. So, this means a lot of prerequisite training.

To be a licensed social worker for adoption, it takes a lot of:

  • Education

  • Training

  • Certifications

Typically, an adoption social worker’s education begins with a four-year degree in social work, followed by graduate studies. Coursework often includes subjects such as

  • Child psychology

  • Human behavior

  • Social sciences

  • And more

After this, each state has different certification requirements that a social worker for adoption has to meet to be licensed. Many states require adoption social workers to have some in-the-field experience before being certified, similar to how nurses and doctors complete residencies as a part of their official training.

Licensed adoption agencies will not hire social workers until they are certified, or are at least in the process of receiving certification. Other types of unlicensed professionals, however, do not have this requirement.

Becoming a licensed social worker for adoption isn’t easy, and the job itself can be challenging, too. Adoption social workers are incredibly passionate. They are dedicated to advocating for the best interests of children in adoption.

They often find themselves moving between office, home and other locations to meet the needs of the people they serve. Standard work hours are pretty much a myth for adoption social workers.

Why is it Important to Have a Social Worker for Adoption?

Adoption professionals who do not have social workers on staff often specialize in the legal side of adoption. But, ignoring the social work elements of adoption may increase a family’s risk of disruption. It also leaves birth parents and families searching for the vital support adoption social workers provide.

Adoption is an emotional journey for everyone involved. Counseling is absolutely crucial, and has proven to be especially important for prospective birth parents choosing adoption. This is such a brave choice, and it’s completely natural (and common) for them to experience doubts or have questions during the adoption process.

As a large national adoption agency, American Adoptions employs a large staff of qualified social workers, whom we call “adoption specialists.” Every adoptive family and prospective birth parent who joins our agency is assigned to their own individual adoption specialist, who will walk them through every step of the process and act as their primary point of contact.

Many of these staff members have personal experiences in adoption as adoptive parents, birth mothers or adoptees themselves, and they bring that personal touch to every adoption they complete.

When you are looking at different adoption professionals and deciding who to work with, make sure to ask questions regarding their adoption social workers:

  • How many adoption social workers do you have on staff?

  • Do you have adoption specialists dedicated to helping prospective birth parents?

  • How are your social workers trained? Do they take part in continuing education?

  • Will we be assigned our own adoption social worker? Will the prospective birth parent have their own social worker?

  • What is your social worker’s availability? Will we be able to reach them when concerns come up after hours?

How Do You Find the Right Adoption Social Worker?

As an adoptive family, it isn’t your job to find an individual adoption case worker to facilitate your adoption. Most often, this type of professional becomes a social worker for adoption agencies, so you will simply need to choose an adoption professional that employs qualified, licensed social workers. However, not all adoption professionals have adoption social workers on staff.

National Adoption Agency


Local Adoption Agency


Adoption Facilitator


Adoption Law Center


Adoption Attorney/Law Firm


*Local adoption agencies can vary in size. Depending on the specific local adoption agency, there may only be one adoption agency worker on staff who is juggling a large number of cases at once.

The best adoption agencies will assign each prospective birth parent and adoptive family to their own adoption specialist, so this person will be your primary point of contact throughout the process.

To speak with an adoption professional and ask questions today, you can get free information online or when you call 1-800-ADOPTION. Our adoption specialists will be happy to answer your questions.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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