• JANUARY 3, 2023
  • BY Amanda Barton

Understanding Your Options for Adoption Professionals as a Birth Mother

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may be considering your options for adoption. One of the decisions you may need to make is between working with an adoption attorney or an adoption agency. While both can help you have a smooth adoption experience, there are important differences. We’ll walk you through your options with an adoption agency or an adoption attorney so you make the right choice for you and your baby.

Understanding adoption

Adoption is a great option for many women dealing with unplanned pregnancies. An adoption agency and an adoption lawyer can both help make your adoption plans a reality. The two offer different services, but they can both help you have a smooth adoption experience. Adoption is a legally binding decision so adoption attorneys will always be needed. But, you can decide if you want an adoption lawyer or an adoption agency to help you through the process.

Working with an adoption agency

Adoption agencies can help you through every step in the adoption process. Their adoption specialists hold many roles and can help you understand your options, provide guidance throughout the process, support you through the birth, and offer assistance after the adoption is completed. They will help you make sure you’re making the right decision for you and your baby, and your adoption goes exactly how you want.

Adoption agencies also make the adoption process easier by connecting you with other professionals, like doctors or adoption attorneys, or families eager to adopt. You can trust their references since they have helped other expectant mothers through the process instead of going it alone. It also makes choosing the right family easier since you don’t need to find hopeful adoptive families on your own. Adoption agencies tend to have lists of waiting families that have been pre-approved for adoption. In these cases, you don’t have to worry about making sure they’re going to provide a loving home for your baby.

This is especially helpful when it comes to finding a family who has similar criteria as you. Adoption specialists can help you find which family will be best for you based on your adoption preferences. If you want an open or closed adoption, an agency can match you with the right family. An agency’s adoption professional can also negotiate with families for you and communicate with them to make sure you get the adoption you want, like with frequent visitation or not contact at all.

Working with an adoption agency also gives you a clear idea of what to expect. Adoption agencies are regulated by state laws, so you know what services you can get with an agency. But, adoption lawyers usually work for a bigger law firm, which don’t have the same requirements as a true adoption agency. For example, as a Pennsylvania adoption agency, A Baby Step Adoption must provide counseling and legal services, educational services, health related services, and financial services. Each year the state inspects our operations to ensure we’re providing all of these services. An adoption attorney would not have to offer all of these, just the legal advice.

When to choose an adoption agency

If you’re looking for support from beginning to end of your pregnancy, an adoption agency is the way to go. They handle every aspect of adoption so you can rely on them through the whole process.

As you consider whether to use an adoption agency or adoption attorney, it is helpful to ask:

  • Will I have someone dedicated to me that will support me and my decisions?
    • Agencies can provide great overall support throughout the adoption process. They are knowledgeable professionals who can lend an ear or provide guidance to help you make the right decision.
  • Is there someone who has my best interest in mind and can walk me through the adoption paperwork so I know exactly what the adoption entails?
    • A good adoption agency will put the focus on you. They will make sure you know and understand all of your rights and will be with you every step of the way through the adoption process. 
  • If I change my mind at some point during the adoption process, will I owe someone money?
    • Typically adoption services through an agency are free for potential birth parents. If you work with an adoption attorney, you may need to pay legal fees or for the adoption lawyer’s time.
  • What support is there for new moms?
    • After an adoption is complete, the adoption attorney has finished their job. They don’t have to offer any follow up services as an attorney. But, an adoption specialist can offer post-adoption support that an adoption attorney isn’t prepared to handle. Adoption specialists can guide you through the transitional period after the adoption is complete and help you find counseling so you feel ready for the next step in your life.
  • What financial help can I get after having a baby?
    • If you need financial help during or after your pregnancy, an adoption agency can help you cover the costs of medical bills and other related expenses. An adoption attorney that only deals with the legal side of adoption may not be equipped to help you in the same ways since they only provide legal counsel.

What are adoption attorneys?

Adoption attorneys are lawyers who are experts in adoption and family law. Their expertise covers all aspects of adoption, both for hopeful adoptive parents and birth parents. You can find them working at law firms with general expertise or at adoption law firms that work more specifically with adoption law.

If you choose to work with adoption attorneys, they can help with the legal aspects of adoption. This could be preparing adoption paperwork or filing the documents in court. In extreme cases, they can also represent birth parents or adoptive families in court.

An adoption attorney can be helpful if you choose to go through the adoption process alone, without the support of an adoption agency. If you find a willing adoptive family on your own and decide adoption is right for you, and adoption lawyer can help you finalized the adoption. While adoption attorneys experienced with the legal parts of adoption, they can’t provide the same personal advice. This is a big decision and you may need extra emotional guidance during the process. So, if you consider working just with an adoption lawyer, make sure you know adoption is the right decision for you.

When do I need an adoption lawyer?

Since adoption agencies usually do not have the legal expertise of an adoption lawyer, you will need an adoption attorney at some point in the adoption process. They will help you finalize the adoption and make sure that everything follows adoption laws.

Adoption lawyers can also help you create a Post Adoption Contact Agreement, or make changes to an existing one. These agreements are legally-binding documents that commit birth parents and adoptive families to certain decisions about life after the adoption. They can help you ensure that you see your child regularly, or never have contact. It all depends on what you want from your adoption.

Sometimes you don’t need to find adoption attorneys. Some full-service or legal adoption agencies have legal experts on staff. In these cases, the adoption agency can help you with every aspect of the adoption process, including providing legal services. Some birth mothers choose to work with these agencies, like A Baby Step Adoption, because they only have to work with one group of people. If you choose an agency that can do it all, you can avoid needing a separate adoption attorney. It will also keep your network for adoption support small and you can work closely with a few people who have your best interests at heart.

Deciding between an adoption agency and an adoption attorney

Considering adoption for your baby is an incredibly selfless decision but often brings up unexpected questions. The adoption process should never be something you do on your own. If you’re considering adoption, you deserve to have unconditional, constant support. That’s where adoption professionals at agencies can help.

From the moment you speak to a caseworker to discuss your unplanned pregnancy options, you should feel like you have the resources you need to get your questions answered. The caseworker is there for you throughout the entire process, so you are never alone. They will also help you navigate your life after the adoption as you get ready for your next step.

An adoption agency’s main priority is supporting you, the birth mother, and helping you every step of the way through the adoption process. An adoption attorney only focuses on the legal side of the adoption process. Working with an agency who is working for you allows you to get the full support you need and the legal counsel you require. 

It also gives you an advocate who can be by your side throughout the whole process. You can rely on your caseworker to talk between you and the adoptive family if you’re uncomfortable at any point. Typically an adoption attorney will not have the time or the expertise to guide you through the specifics of the adoption process, making it harder for you. Even a specialized adoption law attorney may not be as familiar or experienced with the small details of adoptions since they are lawyers by training, not adoption professionals.

To make a decision, you should talk to different adoption professionals, both at an agency and an adoption law firm. You can ask questions that are specific to your situation and get unique advice. It’s also a good idea to ask these professionals for testimonials or stories from other birth mothers so you know that you’re speaking with a reputable professional.

We know there is a lot to consider when deciding if adoption is right for you. If you have any questions about the adoption process, working with an adoption agency, adoption attorneys, or finding a lawyer for adoption, we are here for you 24/7 to offer unbiased advice. Get in touch with us by text or call us at 610-906-8877. You can also submit a contact form, and we will have one of our caseworkers reach out to you.