When a birth mother first requests information about developing an adoption plan, she often asks about the differences between working with an adoption attorney or an adoption agency. After talking with hundreds of birth mothers who have experienced working with both an adoption attorney and an adoption agency, we have compiled a list of four areas mentioned most often.
Birth Mother Independence:
Adoption Attorney Freedom – An adoption attorney prefers to work with a more independent birth mother – in other words, a birth mother who wishes to maintain control and supervision of her own everyday activities. The adoption attorney will propose ideas and make recommendations to the birth mother while sharing the benefit of many years of experience. This practice eases the stress, worry and fear of the birth mother that may accompany her adoption plan. But, most importantly, the independent birth mother continues to manage and control her own life.
Adoption Agency Control – Many adoption agencies require birth mothers to adhere to rigid rules, practices, and procedures which force the birth mother to become dependent upon the adoption agency. For example, several local adoption agencies require the birth mother to be accompanied by the agency caseworker for each OB/GYN appointment, including the examination room. Other adoption agencies require each birth mother to live in a certain place, maintain a certain diet, adhere to certain schedules and attend specific, regimented activities.
Access to Decision-makers:
The adoption attorney works directly with each birth mother. As such, the adoption attorney is immediately responsive to the needs of each birth mother, especially in times involving a desperate situation. To the contrary, many large adoption agencies assign less experienced caseworkers to several birth mothers. These adoption caseworkers have very limited decision-making authority on behalf of the adoption agency or the adoptive parents. This practice tends to extend the time needed to approve birth mother expenses on a timely basis.
Choice of Adoptive Parents:
Most adoption attorneys network through state and national organizations in order to provide each birth mother with the great access to the largest pool of prospective adoptive parents. On the other hand, an adoption agency first limits a birth mother’s selection to that adoption agency’s list of waiting families. The adoption agency prefers the birth mother to select one of its families because of the substantial upfront fees the adoption agency charges the prospective adoptive parents.
Confidential Professional Assistance:
While both an adoption agency and an adoption attorney are ethically responsible for providing confidential assistance to each birth mother, in most cases, only an adoption attorney can provide complete, consistent, and comprehensive legal guidance on an as-needed basis. When working with an adoption agency, if a birth mother has a legal question, the adoption agency, most often, will not have an attorney readily available to respond to the birth mother.