Adopting through a licensed adoption agency is legal in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.
In agency adoptions, adoptive parents and birthparents are guided every step of the way by a knowledgeable social worker on all of the legal and emotional aspects of an adoption. If the agency workers are doing their jobs correctly, they prepare all parties for everything that will take place.
Birthparents are counseled about alternatives to adoption. They are told what their legal rights are and which expenses can legally be met by the adoption agency and which cannot. Prospective adoptive parents are also counseled. The social worker discusses various adoption-related issues, those to be dealt with initially and those that might come up later.
By interviewing the prospective adoptive parents at length and visiting in the home, the social worker determines if the prospective adoptive parents meet State licensing requirements for adoptive parents, that is, that they can provide a safe, stable, and healthy environment for a child.
One particular issue the social worker discusses is the fee, which is established at the beginning. It can be very reassuring to prospective adoptive parents that the agency fee does not increase if a particular placement does not work out because birthparents who were going to place a child decide to parent instead. For the same fee the agency usually works with you until an adoption is completed.
In agency adoption, social workers locate the birthparents and mediate any contact between them and the adoptive parents. The agency workers know the adoption laws and have attorneys to advise them. They make sure that the birthparents' parental rights are terminated according to applicable State laws.