An adoption agency is a business that licensed by the state-- or states in which it operates-- to handle the placement of children in adoptive homes. Licensing procedures are different for the placements of children through the foster care system, through private adoption, and through international adoption. An adoption agency can be licensed for one or more types of placement if it meets all state requirements. In the case of international adoption, an adoption agency must also meet the country's requirements.
A public adoption agency operates within the framework of a state or county government, and is funded by state and federal funds.
A private adoption agency is an independent business which operates with funds provided by client fees for its services. A private adoption agency may be incorporated, operate as a partnership, or exist as another type of legal entity. Most private adoption agencies are non-profit entities (meaning that the profits at the end of the fiscal year are channeled back into the agency, after paying all salaries, operating expenses, etc.), and a few are for-profit (meaning that the profits are distributed after paying all salaries, operating expenses, etc.).