I recently participated in a forum discussion that addressed the pros and cons of working with an adoption agency vs. pursuing a private adoption. The other posters brought up thoughts I hadn't considered before and made me re-think the purposes of an adoption agency and question whether it's a model that is meeting the needs of the adoption community today.
Before the advent of the internet, adoption agencies were almost a necessity for those in the US seeking to place a baby for adoption or adopt a baby. It was pretty much the only way to make adoption connections, unless you happened to be in the right place at the right time.
These days, agencies still help make these connections, but there are other ways that expectant parents and adoptive parents can connect instead. So now what is the purpose of an adoption agency? In my opinion, a good agency should do the following:
-Facilitate connections between expectant parents considering adoption and parents who are hoping to adopt.
-Provide education and support to adoptive parents.
-Provide education and unbiased options counseling to expectant parents.
-Provide guidance through the legal process.
-Screen potential scams.
-Mediate open adoption planning/assist with post-adoption open adoption challenges.
-Be available to provide lifetime support to birth parents after placement.
The problem is that some agencies do not provide all of the above services and many are focused more on money than on ethics. This isn't necessarily the fault of the agencies, which - even if they're not making much of a profit - do need a certain amount of cash flow in order to meet the expenses of running a business.
This issue was underscored by the recent closure of Independent Adoption Center, a national adoption agency that had gotten into the habit of taking money from newer clientele to fund other adoptions in progress. This ultimately proved to be an unsustainable practice, and when IAC closed, they left hundreds of hopeful adoptive parents out thousands of dollars. The owners of IAC cited the changing face of adoption as the cause for their closure, and this is probably true - which again begs the question, with the face of adoption in the United States changing, is there a better way to facilitate domestic infant adoptions?