The numerous venues for adoption can be overwhelming for people just starting to consider adopting. Here's a breakdown of the range of options:
- Through the local public agency
- Through licensed private agencies (includes both domestic and international programs)
- Identified adoptions
- Using attorneys or other intermediaries defined by state law
- Using adoption facilitators (allowed in only a few states)
Since adoption laws in the state where you live govern your options, it's essential that you know which types of placements are allowed in your state. If you pursue an adoption across state lines, you must comply with the laws in both states before the child can join your family. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted legislation (called the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children) that governs how children can be placed across state lines.
Think about how much risk you can tolerate. Of the options listed above, agency adoptions provide the greatest assurance of monitoring and oversight since agencies are required to adhere to licensing and procedural standards. Independent adoptions by attorneys provide assurance that attorneys must adhere to the standards of the Bar Association, and some attorneys who specialize in adoption are members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, a professional membership organization with standards of ethical practice. Adoptive placements by facilitators offer the least amount of supervision and oversight. This doesn't mean that facilitators are not ethical professionals with good standards of practice! It simply means there are few or no oversight mechanisms in place at this time.