No matter which method you choose, every U.S. state requires that home study be done first. A good agency, attorney or facilitator will walk you through this sometimes-difficult process.
Public agencies are funded by the government, so the adoption costs less for the family, especially if you choose a “special needs” child. Every state has a backlog of older children and children with special needs. You will have to consider carefully what types of needs you can cope with. Public agencies have limited resources, and the adoption may take longer to process. Very often these children have been in foster care. They may or may not still be in touch with their birth parents, but the decision about the adoptive family will be made by a state social worker, not the parent. Healthy infants are seldom available.
Private agencies can be very expensive. Agency fees may run into the thousands of dollars; overseas adoptions can run into the tens of thousands. If you prefer to adopt a healthy infant, a private agency will be more likely to accommodate you than a public agency. An overseas adoption can include travel costs, hotels and possibly escort service. Legal fees will be higher as adoption regulations in other countries take special knowledge to navigate.
Attorneys and Private Facilitators
Some attorneys specialize in adoptions. If you have found a child on your own, you will need an attorney to go through the legal process for you. Some couples choose to have an attorney hunt for a child for them. A friend of a friend may know that you want a child and know of, for example, a teenager who is ready to give up her baby. Such adoptions may be “open” -- where the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) stay in touch as the child grows. Legal fees and travel fees may be the only cost.
Advantages of Agencies
Public or private, agencies have resources available that can greatly facilitate a complicated process. Agencies screen families and try to match the family to the right child and vice versa. Good agencies have counseling available for the child and the family both before and after the adoption. Agencies have experience, which can prevent misunderstandings between parties and make the process a smooth and beneficial one for all concerned.