Adoption Facilitators: The Risks of Working with One
What You Need to Know About These Professionals
While researching the different types of professionals who can help a family complete an adoption, you may have come across adoption facilitators.
But, what is that? Are adoption facilitators the same as adoption agencies? Should you work with an adoption facilitator to complete your adoption?
This guide to adoption facilitators will help answer these questions and more. But, it’s you who will ultimately make the decision whether to work with an adoption facilitator or another adoption professional.
What Is an Adoption Facilitator?
Adoption facilitators, sometimes called “adoption consultants,” are unlicensed and unregulated companies who match hopeful adoptive families with prospective birth parents considering adoption. Adoption facilitators are usually small organizations with one or two staff members who often have no counseling background.
Most adoption facilitators advertise to locate a prospective birth parent on behalf of their clients, much like adoption law centers.
In the adoption process, “adoption advertising” means coordinating these services and helping expectant birth parents and adoptive families to find one another based on each party’s adoption goals. Prospective birth parents will often view many adoptive family profiles.
Once a birth parent selects a family, the adoption facilitator will refer both the adoptive family and birth family to a local professional (such as a licensed adoption agency) and remove themselves from the rest of the adoption process.
Adoption facilitators have been outlawed in some states, so this may not even be an option depending on where you live. Check your state’s government website to see if using an adoption facilitator is legal.
How Can You Find a Good Adoption Facilitator?
While there are good people working for adoption facilitators, it can be difficult to find a good facilitator because of the lack of oversight and regulation (more on this below). Without an independent government body reviewing their files, there is no organization ensuring an adoption facilitator is operating in the best way.
Let’s take a look at the other pros and cons of an adoption facilitator you should look for when you begin the search for an adoption professional to work with:
Advantages of Adoption Facilitators
Depending on your situation and your needs, it is possible to find some advantages to working with an adoption facilitator. But, as you will see, there are many more causes for concern than there are potential benefits.
Disadvantages of Adoption Facilitators
There are many potential disadvantages of working with adoption facilitators that any hopeful adoptive parents should consider. These disadvantages include:
Higher costs and financial risk: Once referred to a local adoption professional, adoptive families must pay more on top of what has already been paid to the facilitator, and their fees are at risk if the adoption doesn’t work out.
Illegal practices: Nearly all 50 states have specific laws against the use of adoption facilitators.
Inaccurate fee estimates: An adoption facilitator’s cost estimates are best-case scenarios and rarely reflect that clients may experience several disruptions and lose thousands of dollars before an adoption succeeds. Those losses will be added to the fees for a successful adoption later.
Lack of counseling and support: Like with adoption law centers, families often become frustrated with adoption facilitators because they lack a social service department skilled in evaluating, educating and guiding birth mothers through the adoption process. As a result, families are often matched with birth mothers who aren’t strongly committed to adoption, aren’t emotionally prepared or don’t understand the process.
Lack of legal knowledge: Adoption facilitators typically lack expertise in the complexities and differences in adoption law from state to state. They sometimes give ill advice as they try to match adoptive couples with birth parents.
Lack of necessary services: Adoption facilitators only match birth parents and adoptive families. There are many more aspects of the adoption process besides finding the right adoption opportunity, and adoption facilitators are not able to handle any of these needs. The adoptive family must find a local provider to perform adoption services. This leads to an inconsistent experience and can create a higher likelihood of the adoption failing.
Less value for your investment: Adoption facilitators usually provide less than a fourth of the services of licensed agencies, and yet clients often end up spending more money.
No regulation or oversight: Governments or organizations do not annually review adoption facilitators. This lack of oversight can lead to potentially questionable methods and practices. In contrast, a licensed adoption agency has many levels of review by objective persons and organizations to ensure they are operating in a safe, ethical and legal way.
Potential for sudden shutdown: Adoption facilitators can easily go out of business without warning, leaving hopeful adoptive families in limbo with no repercussions.
Recurring costs: Some adoption facilitator contracts expire, meaning there is a time window to find an adoption opportunity, and then the family will have to pay more fees after this window closes.
Slower response times: Adoption facilitator organizations are often very small. This can mean that the staff is overworked, which can lead to less availability and slower response times. This can prove detrimental to the adoption when there is an immediate need.
Why a Licensed Adoption Agency May be the Right Choice
Many adoptive families feel more comfortable with an adoption agency versus an adoption facilitator simply because facilitators lack the checks and balances that come from national and state adoption regulations.
Adoption agencies have their marketing information, case files and personnel files reviewed annually in the state(s) where they are licensed. And in many cases, national adoption agencies are licensed in multiple states, creating an added layer of protection for their clients.
The one potential advantage of working with an adoption facilitator is the possibility of solid marketing services, which can lead to a short wait time. But, why work with a facilitator when you can get those same benefits, and many more, when working with a national adoption agency?
If you would like to speak to an adoption professional about choosing the right adoption organization to work with, you can get more information now about our agency online or when you call 1-800-ADOPTION today.
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