If you are considering an agency adoption, be sure to understand what services will be covered. I have seen an increasing number of agencies “networking” placements for third parties. In these cases, the agency is not working directly with the birthparents, leaving the prospective adoptive parents two steps removed from the birthparents. Sometimes this translates to a higher fee for you and no decision makers on the ground who can advocate for you or protect your funds. When interviewing agencies ask…
- How many direct placements do you do in an average year? (where agency works directly with the birthparents within a state where the agency is licensed)?
- What is your fee structure? What percentage is due at the start? At placement? After placement (if anything).
- How much is at risk if a case does not go through?
- What possible fees/costs that might arise but are not included in your fee schedule?
- How many families are on your waiting list?
- What’s the average wait time?
- What’s the length of wait for the longest waiting family?
- What does the initial payment cover?
- Can you tell me about your advertising program? Does agency invest in SEO?
- If birthparents are from outside of your service area, how do you provide them services?
- How does the fee structure change if a birthparent is from outside of your service area?
- How do you go about providing services to birthparents in your community? Are they assigned a counselor to receive options counseling before a match is made?
- What happens if we are matched and the placement falls through? Do fees paid transfer over to another case? How much? Are we given top consideration for the next case?
- How do you take into account our goals when matching with birthparents? Is there a system for keeping track of them to make sure we are presented for cases that fit our goals?
- Do hospitals call you with last minute placements when a birthparent decides to make a plan at the hospital before/after labor and delivery? How often?
- What is your philosophy about engaging with birthfathers in the case?
ABOUT DEBORAH SPIVACK
Deborah E. Spivack is a principal attorney in the firm’s Family Law practice group based in Southern Jersey. Deborah’s practice focuses exclusively on adoption and family planning in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Deborah has extensive experience representing Adopting Parents, Birth Parents, Agencies, and Children (upon appointment by a court) in a broad range of adoption matters, including those which are private/independent, agency, identified, stepparent, second parent, guardian, legal custodian adoptions, or adoptions by individuals standing in loco parentis to the child, as well as adoptions of foreign-born children present in the United States. Many of these adoption cases have complex legal issues such as interstate placements, adoption subsidy, non-participating or contesting parties, international parties, immigration problems, Indian Child Welfare Act implications, state child protective services, and special needs or older children. The hallmark of Deborah’s practice is providing personalized, practical, and informative legal advice that enables clients to make informed decisions about family planning while considering their short and long-term goals.