|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 9, 2018 at 7:45 PM|
It can be very overwhelming when initially exploring domestic adoption and deciding what will be the best path for you and your family. Many families start with a simple search on Google for "Adoption Services" or a similar term in the area they live in, which yields a long list of Florida adoption agencies, attorneys, and other adoption professionals. Next, you begin reading various adoption entities' websites and are introduced to new adoption lingo, the process, average wait times, and so on. This can bring on a mixture of emotions-ranging from excitement to fear. Know that you are not alone!
As you begin to explore the options available to you, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of the 4 different types of Florida adoption professionals and the services they are able to provide.
What is an Adoption Agency?
An adoption Agency is a child-placing agency regulated and licensed by a state department (Dept. of Children and Families in the state of Florida) and is able to perform and complete an adoption placement of a child. Adoption agencies typically employ bachelor or master-level social workers (or similar profession) who provide adoption case management/coordinator services to birthparents and adoptive parents throughout the process, facilitate matches, prepare for placement of infant/child, and post-placement supervision. Typically, an adoption agency employs or refers to an adoption attorney for the legal aspects of the adoption. Some agencies offer counseling services, education, and/or support groups.
What is an Adoption Attorney?
An attorney specializing in the practice of adoption law, particularly private adoption. Adoption attorneys are legally able to complete an adoption placement of a child and utilize a licensed professional to complete necessary birthparent interviews, counseling, post-placement supervision, etc. Often, an adoption attorney will also utilize a bachelor-level social worker (or similar profession) to provide case management/coordinatior services to the birthparents and adoptive parents. Families using an adoption attorney typically complete the required home study process with a licensed professional they have identified on their own or can be referred to a home study provider by the attorney.
What is a Licensed Professional?
A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), licensed psychologist, or licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) who is legally eligible to provide adoption home study and counseling services in the state of Florida. These professionals are licensed and regulated by the state and are required to meet specific ethical and procedural standards. These professionals are also able to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health concerns in individuals, groups and families. They also hold a Master's degree, and have completed necessary experience, supervision, and examinations to obtain licensure.
Licensed professionals are utilized by adoption attorneys to complete required steps in an adoption such as birthparent interview and post-placement visits. Attorneys and Agencies often use licensed clinicians to provide birthparent counseling, match counseling and support - preparation for placement, to create a hospital plan and/or ongoing contact agreements, and post-placement counseling and supervision.
Prospective adoptive parents can use a licensed professional to complete various adoption-related services. Some adoptive parents use licensed professional services when they have matched with an expectant mother/birthparent through their own networking. Licensed professional are not a child-placing agency or attorney; however, they can collaborate with other adoption entities (agency/attorney) who complete adoption placements and the legal component needed in adoption.
What is an Adoption Consultant?
Adoption Consultants provide basic education, creation and feedback on adoption letter/profiles, and guidance and support through the adoption process. An adoption consultant will refer the individual/family to a home study provider to complete this required initial step.They generally work with a number of agencies and attorneys who they refer their clients to in order to have an array of possible ways to match with an expectant mother/birthmother.
Understanding the different ways to pursue a domestic adoption, the roles of adoption professionals, and services offered will lead you to the next set of questions, such as: Which adoption professional is the right fit for me? What services do I feel are important? What questions should I ask adoption entities? What is my budget?
Not to worry, we are here to help you tackle those questions! Tune in to our blog for more helpful tips, support, and important adoption topics or comment below. We'd love to hear from you!