Private Adoption vs Agency Adoption

July 22, 2019

We have had so many questions on this topic. Why we chose one over the other? Why we didn’t pursue agency with both adoptions? I put together our most commonly asked questions below. Hopefully these will help someone who is trying to figure out which route to go with adoption.

1.What is the cost difference?

This is HUGE! I can’t give you exact numbers because every adoption is different. Agencies can run anywhere from $30,000-$50,000. Remember, you have your agency fee that starts out at $15,000-$20,000 then the add on’s will go from there (birth mom expenses, ICPC, lawyer fees, social worker fees, home study(s), etc) With a private adoption this can range anywhere from $7,000-$15,000. Of course it can go higher then that depending on the situation but with private adoption, you do not have that starting agency fee. But do remember, that paying that agency fee means the agency does 95% of everything for you! No joke, we paid our agency a big chunk of change but they did a lot of work!

2. How long did it take for placement?

With Lemmon (she was an agency adoption) we were matched with a set of twins in a matter of days. That adoption failed and then we were matched with Lemmon two weeks later. I have heard of families waiting months or even a couple years. Remember, every adoption is different!

With Honey, we announced we were looking to adopt in April. We found our birth mom in October, and Honey was born in April. So a full YEAR! Talk about patience! Again, EVERY adoption is different!

3. What does post placement counseling for birth parents look like with an agency vs private?

Now, we can not speak for any birth parents as we have not been down that road. So we will not be answering any questions about them personally. But as for this questions, we are LEGALLY bound to offer our birth mom’s so many counseling sessions. It is up to the birth mom to take them or not. We can not force anything on her but we do HAVE to offer these to her. Even if it’s an agency or private, we LEGALLY have to offer counseling sessions to her.

4. What was the main difficulty we faced when going through agency and private?

Agency: Cost. Being completely honest, cost was a huge hurdle for us. It’s not some extra pocket change or something you can save up for in a year. But other then that, we loved having our agency beside us with every step.

Private: patience. As you read, it took us pretty much a year to have Honey. I remember saying to Riley at one point, “If this birth mom doesn’t work out, then I need a long break. Maybe even look into an agency.” With private, you have to really put yourself out there and then wait and pray and wait and pray. My patience was tested in so many ways!

5. We’ve had 2 failed private adoptions. Which type of adoption would you prefer?

Failed adoptions are common. I hate saying that and hearing that but most adoptive families go through at least one failed adoption. We went through one really really bad one with our agency and then one tough one going private. No matter which route you take, you are not invincible from a failed adoption. My best advice with a failed adoption. Grieve, reevaluate your plan, then get back on the horse and keep going!

6.How did you know what to do going private?

When we were working with Lemmon’s adoption agency, I made sure to ask every question. Even the simple silly ones. I wanted to know exactly what was happening. Even though our agency did mostly everything, I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what they were doing. The agency knew me by name bc I was constantly showing up at the office or calling to ask something. So, I learned a lot of the legal stuff and how to do an adoption through our experience with our agency. As for how to approach a private adoption, I made a really kind friend who went through two private adoptions. I asked her every question under the sun. She helped me sooooo much to get the ball rolling! So, ask questions to anyone you know who has gone the private route.

7. We want to adopt but can not do the financial side. What should we do?

I wrote a full post on ways to fund raise for an adoption. If you click here, it’ll take you to it. We have done a few of these and I can tell you that they definitely work!

8.Which option did you feel made you emotionally stronger?

This is such a tough question. An agency adoption made me 100x stronger because of how hard our failed adoption was. I completely crumbled and learned how to pick myself back up again. Talk about feeling all alone and finding the light, that is the perfect example. With private, it made me so much emotionally stronger because I had to be patient and rely on my husband and family to pick me up when things weren’t going how I wanted them to.

9. What is the difference between agency and private?

An agency will find a birth mom for you and then once you are matched with a birth mom, the agency is like your middle man. They communicate everything between you two and make sure both parties are doing good. An agency will then walk you through all the legal stuff and post placement.

With private, we have to “advertise” ourselves to find a birth mom. Once we find her, we can hire a social worker to be the middle man (that is more $$) or we communicate 100% with the birth mom and make sure she is taken care of and we are also. We have to find our own lawyer and do all the legal things and post placement ourselves.

10. What one was easier and which one do you prefer?

Agency was much easier! Like I said, we were matched extremely fast, we had our social worker do pretty much everything! If an agency was not so expensive, we would love to go through an agency with each adoption. We absolutely loved our experience with them but have a hard time looking back on our bill. Private was much smoother cost wise. It was a lot harder to be emotionally stable for my family and our birth parents (they are incredible but it still puts a toll on you) I did have my mom and one of my best friends, whom both are birth moms, guide us a lot! Find yourself someone who has been through it all. They will be your saving grace!

11. How much research goes into birth parents medical history?

With our agency, our birth parents were asked to fill out a medical history form. With Honey’s, we just asked questions. But it’s up to the birth parents on how much they would like to disclose. This is also why open adoption is awesome. You can ask them any questions when things start to pop up.

12. Do you pay for birth mom’s medical bills?

If she doesn’t have insurance or even good insurance, yes you can cover her medical bills. As well as housing, food, clothing, transportation, etc.

13. Do you think private would be much more difficult without a social media presence?

Not at all! If you talk about it, post about it, tweet about it 😉 someone will see it and remember you when they hear of an someone looking to place. I have seen families with zero social media presence and they found a birth mom because a friend of a friend heard they were looking to adopt and their sister or friend is looking to place. Don’t let not having a social media presence shy you away from going private!

14.How long does it take for each to be finalized?

In the state of Utah, it takes 6 months. But I am not sure for other states.

15. How does the exchange for money work?

Everything should go through your lawyer or agency. Never pass money from person to person. And keep track of everything! Adoption tax return is awesome!

16. How did you meet Honey’s birth mom?

Social media! A follower of ours, knew we were looking to adopt and saw her friend (honey’s birth mom) saying she was thinking of placing. The follower reached out to both of us and sent us each other’s info. Then it all fell into place from there 🙂

17. How do you get started?

I wrote a blog post all about that HERE

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