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What is an Adoption Social Worker?

How Your Adoption Specialist Will Support You

Adoption social workers are the heart of the adoption process. These adoption specialists facilitate the logistical requirements of the adoption process as well as provide emotional support and counseling. Without social workers, adoptive families and prospective birth mothers would be left struggling through a process that can be challenging to complete on your own.

The expertise and professionalism that an adoption social worker brings is vital, but it’s not available with every adoption professional. As a family considering adoption, you may be wondering where to find an adoption social worker, or why you need one to complete an adoption. You’ll find answers to these questions and more in this guide to adoption social workers.

What is an Adoption Social Worker?

An adoption social worker, sometimes called an adoption agent or adoption specialist, is a certified and licensed professional who facilitates the adoption process for birth parents, adoptive parents and children. Because this professional provides counseling, case management and general oversight throughout the process, you might think of your adoption worker as an “adoption coordinator.” Social workers for adoption can specialize in domestic adoption, foster care adoption or international adoption. Regardless of the type of adoption, social workers are very important to a successful placement.

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. 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. They give their all so that prospective birth mothers, 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?

It takes a lot of education, training and certifications to be a licensed social worker for adoption. Typically, an adoption social worker’s education begins with a four-year degree in social work, followed by graduate studies. Coursework includes subjects like child psychology, human behavior, social sciences and more.

After this, each state has different certification requirements that an adoption social worker has to meet in order to be licensed. Many states require 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. Typically, adoption professionals will not hire social workers until they are certified, or are at least in the process of receiving certification.

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

How Do You Find an 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 who employs qualified, licensed social workers. However, not all adoption professionals have adoption social workers on staff.

National Adoption Agency

Yes

Local Adoption Agency

Yes*

Adoption Facilitator

No

Adoption Law Center

No

Adoption Attorney/Law Firm

No

*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.

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. However, 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 provided by adoption social workers.

Adoption is an emotional journey for everyone involved. Counseling is absolutely vital, and has proven to be especially important for prospective birth mothers choosing adoption. These women are making a brave choice, and it’s completely natural (and common) for them to experience doubts or have questions during the adoption process. An organization without the expertise of adoption social workers on staff has nothing to offer expectant mothers when those doubts and questions do come up. Thanks to their education, training and experience, adoption social workers are able to provide the sort of kind, caring counseling that prospective birth mothers need. Not to mention the counseling that adoptive families need, as this process can be challenging for them, too.

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 mother 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 about their adoption social workers:

  • How many are there?

  • Do they have adoption specialists dedicated to helping prospective birth mothers?

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

  • Will you be assigned your own adoption social worker? Will the prospective birth mother have her own social worker?

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

To speak with an adoption professional and ask some of these questions today, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time or request free information online. Our adoption specialists will be happy to answer your questions. 

Disclaimer
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. 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 accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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