There are 2 types of adoption agencies: public and private.
Public Adoption Agency:
Public adoption agencies are supported by public funding and are run by counties or states. Public agencies assist in the adoption of children who are in the foster care system.
Private Adoption Agency:
Private adoption agencies, while licensed by the state, are run privately and can assist in many different types of adoption.
Adoption agencies involve a large area of adoptable children, depending on the focus of the agency. For example, some agencies might focus on strictly bi-racial children while another might focus solely on children with special needs,while another might focus on adoptions involving only infants. Some agencies are also selective in the types of couples seeking to adopt that they will work with.
All adoption agencies must follow strict rules enforced by the state. First, they must all be licensed in which they practice. Some agencies are licensed to adopt children from out-of-state as well. Those agencies usually work with agencies in other states through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (an agreement between states that governs the placement of children for adoption or foster care across state lines). In addition to that, there are a few agencies icensed by more than 1 state to make direct adoptive placements in a state other than the one in which they are based.
Agencies under the management of specific religious faith are called sectarian agencies. These agencies may concentrate on serving individuals of a particular faith or group of faiths. Some sectarian agencies serve all faiths and even allow adoptive parents of other faiths to apply to adopt a child.
When working with an adoption agency, the birth parents and adoptive parents are able to meet and get to know one another. Birth parents working with an adoption agency must give up their rights as parents to the adoption agency. Up until the time the child is adopted, the agency is legally responsible for the care and custody of the child. During the adoption process, the adoptive parents will take care of the child, but the agency may remove the child from that care at any time before the adoption is finalized.
If the potential adoptive parents have a criminal record (anything other than a minor traffic violation) or ongoing drug problem, the adoption agency has the right to recommend the adoption to the court, although this would not make the couple ineligible for adoption. An agency may also refuse to recommend a couple for adoption based solely on that couple's race, color, national origin, or the child involved. The court does not have to follow the recommendation of the adoption agency, however. They will make their decision based on what is best for the child.
Agency Adoptions require a home-study for all prospective parents. The home-study will include:
- A home visit
- Letters of reference from people who know the prospective adoptive parents
- A letter from a medical professional to confirm the adoptive parents do not have any life-threatening or life-shortening illnesses
- Confirmation of employment status and income, and
- Finger printing to check if the adoptive parents have ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation