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Local Adoption Agencies Guide

If you’re considering adopting a baby in the U.S., you will most likely need to work with an adoption agency. The domestic adoption process can be complicated, and an adoption agency brings the expertise, resources and support needed to complete an adoption in a responsible, ethical and legal way.

Knowing this, your first question might be: Are there any adoption centers near me? Where can I find the nearest adoption agency to get started?

It’s natural to assume you should start your process by searching for child adoption agencies near you. But there’s actually a lot to consider about the adoption professional you choose, and distance is only one factor to take into account.

Why Choose American Adoptions?

  • Short wait times
  • We protect your budget
  • A licensed, regulated agency

Learn more about the advantages of choosing American Adoptions, here.

If you want more free information now about which local adoption agency may be right for you, you can call us at 1-800-ADOPTION today or have this handy adoption professional tool with you when you’re speaking with an adoption agency.

Two Types of Adoption Professionals: Local Adoption Agencies and National Adoption Agencies

There are, generally speaking, two types of adoption agencies to choose between when you’re pursuing a private domestic adoption: local adoption agencies and national adoption agencies.

After this choice is made, there are many other details to consider before choosing an agency. However, this is the place to start.

Which type of adoption agency will be best for you? Should you find a local adoption professional, or should you work with a national adoption agency?

Ultimately, this will come down to your unique situation. There are, however, some big-picture facts about local adoption agencies that can inform your decision. That’s what we’re going to cover in this guide to local adoption professionals.

What Are Local Adoption Agencies?

Local adoption agencies are adoption professionals who work within a state to place children with adoptive families. Local adoption agencies typically have smaller staffs.

Depending on the size of the agency, it may or may not be “full-service.” This means that a local adoption agency may need other adoption professionals to complete some parts of the process. When families first consider adoption, they often start by looking at local adoption agencies.

Are There Child Adoption Agencies Near Me?

There are local adoption agencies in most states and most major metro areas. If you live in a rural county, there may not be an opportunity for a local adoption. If you live in a major city, or close to one, you will most likely be able to find several local adoption agencies to look at.

Adoption, though, is not confined by geography. Working with a local adoption agency can have its advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the needs of your situation, you may decide that the disadvantages win the day. In that case, you may want to look to a national adoption agency to help you.

What are those advantages and disadvantages of a local adoption agency? Let’s find out.

Advantages of Local Adoption Agencies:

  • Potential for in-person interaction: Families may be able to meet their social worker face-to-face, which can help build trust, understanding and relationship.

  • Potential for in-person counseling: Similarly, because they only work with prospective birth mothers in a certain state or region, local adoption agencies may locate and provide counseling to prospective birth mothers face-to-face.

  • Fewer clients and staff members: The staff and family list at local adoption agencies are smaller, which sometimes allows for easier communication.

  • Potential for lower adoption costs: Adoption fees can be less because of lower overhead, although this same factor can be a disadvantage (as you can see below).

  • Less travel required: Families do not have to travel outside of their geographic area when it is time to be placed with the baby. This can contribute to lower overall costs.

  • State licensing: A local adoption agency is a licensed and state-monitored organization and has greater accountability than law firms, law centers or facilitators.

Potential Disadvantages of Local Adoption Agencies:

  • Longer and less accurate wait time estimates: Wait times can be longer than with a larger national professional, in part because local adoption agencies are limited by geography. And, because smaller agencies may not complete a consistent number of placements from year to year, their wait estimates may be less predictable or reliable.

  • More expensive and less effective advertising: If the agency advertises, which is the process of putting the family profile out to prospective birth parents, the costs are often separate from agency fees. These agencies are limited by geography and often don’t have the same resources to invest in marketing and outreach that national agencies do, which may result in fewer adoption opportunities and contribute to longer wait times.

  • Less stability: Local events can have significant impact on local adoption agencies. For instance, Florida made changes to its adoption laws in 2001 and adoptions plummeted 50 percent the following year. Whereas national agencies are able to absorb shifts like these, many local adoption agencies were forced to close, leaving adoptive families in limbo. Additionally, a local adoption agency staff is usually comprised of only a few staff members, which leaves clients susceptible to the struggles of staff turnover.

  • Slower response times: Additionally, a smaller staff can mean that each social worker has a higher caseload. While many social workers at local adoption agencies handle this well, it can mean slower response times from an overworked staff member.

  • Less availability to prospective birth mothers: A woman considering adoption is going through a difficult, emotional time. Prospective adoptive mothers frequently contact adoption agencies outside of normal business hours. Many local adoption agencies are not equipped with the staff and resources to handle these after-hour calls — which means potential birth mothers may instead turn to larger agencies with 24/7 availability. This results in fewer adoption opportunities and longer wait times for hopeful parents.

  • Less effective counseling services: Local adoption agencies process a small number of adoptions, which sometimes means the staff does not have the same expertise as a larger organization in evaluating, educating and guiding clients through the adoption process. And, because the social work staff at a regional agency tends to be smaller, they may not be able to dedicate the same time and energy to providing the necessary support, counseling and education to adoptive families and prospective birth parents.

  • Potential for higher adoption costs: In some cases, living, medical and legal expenses are not estimated in a local agency’s average total cost for adoption. These expenses make up a large portion of the cost of adoption. Leaving them out of the original estimate can leave families shocked and unprepared when they come up later in the process. Other times, an adoption agency may quote lower costs but cut certain vital services necessary for a successful adoption — such as advertising or counseling. Additionally, most local adoption agencies are unable to offer the same financial protection for adoptive families as larger adoption agencies, which means an adoptive family’s budget can quickly deplete from an adoption opportunity that does not work out.

Types of Families Who May Adopt Through Local Adoption Agencies:

  • Families who do not want to travel to another state to adopt a baby.

  • Families who are flexible on wait time.

  • Families who have a tight overall budget, though they should be careful to evaluate the way fees and costs are assessed and paid.

  • Families who value face-to-face contact from a point person who they work with.

  • Families who are more risk-tolerant financially.

  • Families who are prepared for higher disruption rates than national agencies.

  • Families that want to visit the agency weekly.

  • Families that have friends that run the smaller agency.

Why Many Families Work With National Adoption Agencies:

  • National adoption agencies typically have a larger staff, which means more services provided and faster response times.

  • Many national adoption agencies are full-service, meaning they are able to be of service for everything the family needs to complete an adoption.

  • Because national adoption agencies can work with prospective birth mothers anywhere in the country, they are able to present adoptive family profiles to more women. This helps lower wait times.

  • National adoption agencies typically have the resources for robust advertising efforts, which helps find the right adoption opportunity for families.

  • Unlike local adoption agencies, national agencies are not impacted by local legal changes or other factors. There is a valued stability in working at the national level.

  • There is also a financial stability to larger agencies that may not be present in a local adoption agency. Many families take comfort in this financial certainty that can be found with national adoption agencies.

Learn More About National and Local Adoption Agencies

Deciding who to work with can be difficult. This is an important decision, and you should take your time with it. Ask a lot of questions and look for total transparency in the answers.

If you’d like to speak with an adoption professional about which type of agency to choose, you can get free, no-obligation information online or when you call us at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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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