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National Adoption Agencies: A Guide for Families

What is a National Adoption Agency, and Why Work with One?

If you are considering adopting a baby, you probably already know how important it is to choose the right adoption agency. The services provided by private adoption agencies help make this process possible for prospective birth mothers and hopeful adoptive parents like you — and the one you decide to work with will set the course for your entire experience. When you consider how many different adoption agencies you have to choose from, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.

There are a lot of little choices that go into the big decision of which child adoption agency to work with. Of all these choices, the first one you need to make is deciding which type of adoption agency will be best for you. While there are a variety of professionals who can assist in adoption, there are basically two types of domestic adoption agencies: national agencies and local agencies.

In this article, we’ll focus on the first type: national adoption agencies. This guide will give you everything you need to know to decide whether this type of professional is right for you.

What is a National Adoption Agency?

National adoption agencies are state-licensed child adoption organizations that work across all 50 states. A state license means the government of that state helps regulate, review and monitor the national adoption agency’s compliance with state laws and regulations. This helps ensure the adoption organization is following proper procedures and providing good services to their clients. In many cases, national agencies are licensed in multiple states, creating an added layer of protection for their clients.

Each family considering adoption is in a unique position. They have needs that no other family does. This means that the type of adoption agency that will be best for you depends on your specific situation. That being said, there are some advantages and disadvantages of national adoption agencies that are true across the board.

Advantages of National Adoption Agencies:

  • Lower wait times: National adoption agencies tend to have shorter wait times than most adoption professionals because of broader outreach to pregnant women in all 50 states. Often, these agencies have large advertising networks and can dedicate more resources to marketing. And, when a domestic adoption agency invests more in advertising to expectant mothers, it results in more adoption opportunities for hopeful parents — driving down the average wait time for these families.

  • More stability: National scope allows these child adoption agencies to maintain a relatively steady number of adoption placements from year to year and to insulate themselves from shifting social trends and policy changes in individual states. For example, when Florida passed new adoption laws in 2001, adoptions dropped 50 percent in the state — causing many local agencies to cease operations. National agencies, on the other hand, are largely unaffected by such state or regional downturns. This means families who work with well-established national agencies are less likely to find themselves in limbo following a sudden agency closure. It also means national agencies are generally able to provide more accurate and predictable wait time estimates. Additionally, national adoption agencies are not as susceptible to disastrous effects of staff turnover; smaller agencies often employ one or two staff members, and if one leaves, the agency may suffer significantly from a loss of expertise.

  • Better social work support: A large, qualified and well-trained social service department with vast adoption experience allows for better evaluation, education and guidance for prospective birth mothers. Because of their size, national agencies are often able to provide round-the-clock, one-on-one support to women considering adoption. This typically results in more confident prospective birth parents, fewer adoption disruptions and better matches between adoptive families and birth mothers overall.

  • Financial protection: When an adoptive family is chosen by a pregnant mother, they often invest significant funds into the adoption opportunity — but what happens to that money if the prospective birth mother changes her mind about the placement? With many smaller, regional agencies, those funds are at risk in the case of an adoption disruption — which can be financially devastating and even prevent hopeful parents from ever reaching their adoption goals. There is usually less financial risk in the case of a disrupted adoption when a family works with a national adoption agency, as these professionals are more likely to offer a financial risk-sharing program.

  • More checks and balances: Adoption agency files are reviewed by state governments (often in multiple states) to ensure legal and regulatory compliance, providing greater reliability and safety for the adoptive families they serve. National adoption agencies submit their documentation through all 50 Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) offices, which also reviews case files for necessary documentation and provide other checks and balances for the agency.

  • One-stop shops: Most national adoption agencies in the U.S. coordinate and/or are involved in all parts of the adoption process from beginning to end, which ensures better service for their clients. Unlike some smaller professionals, which may require families to “outsource” certain services (like advertising, counseling or legal work), national infant adoption agencies provide you with one point of contact throughout the process.

  • More accurate estimates: Because national adoptions agencies complete a large number of adoptions, they have a greater sample size to use when determining their average adoption costs for hopeful parents. This means they are often able to provide more accurate fee estimates than most organizations.

  • 24/7 availability: Clients can count on after-hour and weekend coverage 24/7 from some agencies. This is especially important during hospital time — which often won’t take place during business hours — and when a prospective birth mother needs support or is having late-night doubts about her decision.

  • Access to other top professionals: Larger newborn adoption agencies tend to have established relationships with other top professionals across the country. When you work with a national U.S. adoption agency, you also gain access to their trusted, nationwide network of top adoption attorneys and other professionals you may need.

  • Faster service: A larger staff allows for a team to work on your adoption plan, thus leading to more efficient workloads and faster turnaround on projects.

Disadvantages of National Adoption Agencies:

  • Potentially higher costs: Upfront fees can be higher due to more robust advertising efforts on the family’s behalf and overhead costs. Total fees can sometimes be higher than other professionals due to better and more comprehensive services, as well as the financial protections in place for adoptive families when an adoption opportunity doesn’t work out. It’s important to consider different U.S. adoption agencies’ fees and the services provided in exchange for those fees to determine which agency can offer the best value for your family.

  • More travel requirements: Families working with national domestic infant adoption agencies must be open to adopting from and traveling to all 50 states. Families will usually travel across the United States on short notice to adopt their baby.

  • Less face-to-face interaction: Families typically don’t meet the staff at national adoption agencies face-to-face, unless they travel to various office locations across the U.S.

Clients Who Adopt Through National Adoption Agencies:

  • Families who want to adopt in a timely manner.

  • Families who have a slightly higher adoption budget but don’t want to risk money on adoptions that don’t work out.

  • Families who want the dependability of a large and carefully monitored organization.

  • Families who want the broad range of choices a national domestic adoption agency offers during the process.

  • Families who want their adoption in the hands of some of the most respected child adoption organizations in America.

  • Families who want an organization with a proven track record that invests their finances and efforts into areas essential to a reliable adoption process.

  • Families who would like quick turnaround for their questions or concerns.

How Do you Find a Good National Adoption Agency?

Finding the right adoption agency to work with can make or break a family’s experience with adoption. Only you can know which type of agency is right for you. To help figure that out, there are a few things you can do:

1. Ask a lot of questions.

The only way to truly determine whether a particular baby adoption agency is right for you is to do careful research and speak to someone from the organization. As you research various private domestic adoption agencies, ask questions like:

  • How many adoptions do you complete each year?

  • How quickly can my adoption specialist respond to my questions?

  • What is the average wait time until an adoption opportunity?

  • Are your agency fees fixed? How do you calculate your estimated cost of adoption?

If an adoption organization seems to be hiding something, that’s a big red flag. Look for honesty in answers, as well as clarity.

2. Know what you are willing to do.

Are you prepared to travel for an adoption opportunity? Have you worked out how to finance the adoption? Are you okay with not meeting your adoption specialist in person? The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find the right private adoption agency to work with.

3. Pay attention to the tone of the conversation.

Does the adoption professional sound like they are trying to help you, or does it feel like they are trying to sell you on something? You should never feel pressured into adoption. If it feels like the person you are speaking with is more interested in earning your business than answering your questions, you may want to consider a different adoption agency. Look for a domestic adoption agency that cares about meeting your needs, not winning your business.

For more tips on finding the right adoption agency to work with, you can read our guide on the subject.

Why Choose American Adoptions as Your National Adoption Agency?

American Adoptions is a national adoption agency with more than 25 years of excellent service provided to adoptive families and birth mothers. As one of the largest private domestic adoption agencies in the U.S., our staff is dedicated and provides a significant base of expertise in all aspects of the adoption process. Families who choose American Adoptions as their U.S. adoption agency experience an adoption process in which they are respected and supported. Our agency fees are fixed, and our cost estimates are honest.

Unlike some other baby adoption agencies, we invest heavily in advertising, which means we work hard to tell our families’ stories to as many prospective birth mothers as possible. American Adoptions works with a professional media team to produce family profiles and videos that give prospective birth mothers a personal look into the family who will be adopting their baby. This increases adoption opportunities for families and creates a personal connection that helps reinforce a birth mother’s decision to adopt.

When a family works with our private adoption agency, the support doesn’t end when the placement is made. Our adoption specialists continue to support families and birth mothers by facilitating communication in semi-open adoptions as well as providing helpful resources.

Ultimately, we are a national adoption agency that exists to service hopeful parents and prospective birth mothers. This journey is all about the people most intimately involved in the adoption, and we work hard to support and serve you.

If you have more questions about domestic adoption agencies, the adoption process or how to begin an adoption, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time or request more free information about our agency. Our adoption specialists will be happy to speak with you free of charge. 

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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