adopting mom gathering her team of adoption professionals

Who Do I Need on My Adoption Team?

By Jess Nelson, Community Manager, PairTree

April 2, 2024

Embarking on the journey of adoption is a remarkable decision filled with hope, love, and the excitement of expanding your family. Yet, this journey can also be complex and overwhelming, filled with paperwork, legalities, and emotional ups and downs.

That's where assembling a trusted team of adoption professionals becomes invaluable. Each member of this team plays a unique role in guiding you through the process, providing support, expertise, and advocacy every step of the way.

Building Your Core Adoption Team

Before we begin building your team, we recommend taking a look at the adoption laws in your state. Where you live determines the people you need on your team to help guide you through the adoption process.

  • Some states require that you use a licensed child-placing agency to facilitate an adoption, while other states allow you to work with just an attorney.
  • There is also a federal law called “ICPC,” which stands for “Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children,” which includes all the regulations and requirements for interstate adoption. If you want to learn more about the ICPC process, check out The Adoptive Parents Complete Guide to the ICPC Process.

You don’t need to know all the intricacies of adoption law, but you do need team members on your side to help guide you.

Now, let's get into the essential roles within your dream team of adoption professionals!

Licensed Home Study Provider

The home study is a crucial component of the adoption process, as it involves an assessment of your home environment, lifestyle, and readiness to adopt. A licensed home study provider conducts interviews, home visits, and background checks to ensure that you are prepared to provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child. They offer guidance on any necessary adjustments to your home and provide support as you navigate this initial phase of the journey.

Truly, home study providers are wonderful guides who want to set you and your family up for a healthy adoption from the beginning. The purpose of a home study is to assess where your family is in the adoption process — mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally. Your home study provider is there to ensure you’re ready to provide a child with a loving, stable, safe, and healthy home.

Ready to begin the home study process? Our home study providers want to see you succeed on your adoption journey, and go the extra mile to ensure the process is as smooth and pain-free as possible. You’ll receive non-judgemental support and encouragement along the way.

Adoption Attorney

Legal representation is essential in ensuring that all aspects of the adoption process adhere to the relevant laws and regulations. The American Academy of Assisted Reproduction and Adoption Attorneys (AAAA) is an elite collective of attorneys specializing in adoption law and provides expert guidance on legal proceedings, documentation, and finalization. They advocate for your rights and the best interests of the child, ensuring that all necessary legal requirements are met and that the adoption is legally sound and binding.

Explore our directory of verified, reputable adoption attorneys, or email us to get a personal recommendation!

Adoption Agency

Full-service adoption agencies are a great resource for prospective adoptive families - they can assist in the outreach and matching process, coordinate all of the legal requirements, as well as continuously educate you and your family on the complexities of adoption.

These professionals will work to identify potential matches with expectant and birth families based on your preferences, values, and circumstances. They will help coordinate communication between all parties involved and provide guidance on navigating the legal and logistical aspects of the placement process.

We definitely recommend meeting with an adoption agency in your state to learn more about:

  • Recent adoption trends
  • How they operate, and the processes they follow
  • How they treat expectant moms and birth families

Building Your Outreach Team & Tools

Once you complete your home study, and decide which adoption professional is right for you, it’s time to start building your adoption profile and outreach material, and decide what other professionals you might want on your team.

Profile Book

A profile book is an essential part of adoption outreach that will be shared with expectant moms, as well as adoption professionals.

PairTree profile books allow families to choose from multiple designs, capture their story through a custom 22-page book, help create a connection, and offer an expectant mom a glimpse into their life - the life her child could potentially have. Each profile book we complete is edited by a two-time birth mom - offering families a unique perspective into the best way to introduce their family, tell their story and create a meaningful connection. This added insight is invaluable to our families, and a feature few else offer.

adoption profile books

Online Profile

If you’re working with a full-service adoption agency, they will often host your profile on their site. If you decide to pursue independent adoption, you will likely need to create your own online profile…that’s one of the many areas PairTree can help you on your journey!

Our unique connection platform is so much more than just an online profile…we provide safe connections, clear analytics, and profiles that are actually being viewed by expectant moms, all guided by the hands of your licensed adoption professional through our brand new Account Linking Magic.

online adoption profile for adopting family

Adoption Consultant

An adoption consultant can help you achieve what is called a “multi-agency approach,” meaning they often have a list of professionals they work with that have low-cost fees to be on their waiting list and can help you sign up with multiple agencies across the US. A consultant should serve as your advocate and advisor throughout the entire adoption journey.

But fair warning – not all adoption consultants are created equally.

Additional Roles

Adoption is a billion-dollar industry, therefore there is no shortage of adoption service providers. There are companies, organizations, and individuals that specialize in adoption coaching, custom social media ads, Google ads (these aren’t always legal in your state!), search engine optimization, video creation, and profile design. Adoption is a costly process, so make sure you are spending your money in ways that are safe, ethical, and important to you.

And whenever you decide to bring someone else into your adoption inner circle, make sure you know exactly what your fees are paying for and what services they provide.

Building Your Support Team

Adoption is complex and is emotionally and mentally challenging for all involved, so having a network of support is essential. Other team members you might consider:

  • A medical professional (who can inform you about the medical implications of drug & alcohol exposure - if relevant, or any other questions you may have). We highly recommend following Dr. Sara Silvestri on Instagram at Dr. Silvestri is a Board Certified Pediatrician and adoptive mom, who also offers 1:1 sessions with prospective adoptive parents.
  • A family therapist who specializes in adoption. Trust me, you will eventually need support from a trained professional, and it’s best to find someone who understands the adoption experience from multiple perspectives.
  • Lock down your list of “go-to” friends and family members who can serve as your support system while you go through this process – this is a great opportunity to practice leaning on them for support.

How to Find Ethical, Reputable Adoption Professionals

Finding an ethical adoption professional to work with is no small task, and it’s often difficult to figure out where to start.

Remember to research and vet professionals thoroughly, seeking recommendations from reputable adoption organizations and trusted individuals who have gone through the adoption process. Building a supportive team of adoption professionals is essential for navigating the complexities of adoption with confidence and peace of mind.

We highly recommend interviewing potential adoption partners to determine if they are a good fit for you and to evaluate their values as adoption professionals. To help you on your search, we've put together 25 questions to ask your adoption professional to ensure your adoption is healthy - emotionally, financially, mentally and physically. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the crucial questions:

  • How do expectant moms find your agency?
  • What support does your agency offer the birth family post-placement?
    • It’s worth noting that expectant moms & birth families are treated borderline negligent in this country. (We’re working hard to fix that!) Learn about the expectant mom journey here.
  • What is the current ratio of expectant moms to waiting adoptive families (and how does that compare)?
  • What is the average wait period for your families?
  • What are the total costs? Agency fees (including application fees, home study fees, matching fees) + legal fees + birth mother expenses

How to Spot Red Flags in Adoption Professionals

A common question we get is, “Who should I avoid when evaluating potential professionals?” PairTree CEO Erin and Community Manager Jess explore additional red flags to look for while you are connecting with potential adoption partners.

Collect as much information as you can, and let it simmer for a couple weeks. Remember, this is a lifelong decision and your “team” is essential to helping you realize a healthy adoption (which means you’ll receive support for years after the placement).

Note: You’re never alone in this decision. PairTree has relationships with adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, and adoption consultants across the country, so we can help you pick the right professionals too!

As you embark on your adoption journey, remember that building a supportive team of professionals is key to navigating the process with confidence and peace of mind. Each member of your adoption team brings unique skills, expertise, and dedication to helping you realize your dream of welcoming a child into your family. By entrusting your journey to these professionals, you can focus on the joy and anticipation of growing your family through the gift of adoption.

Jess Nelson Jess Nelson is the Community Manager at PairTree, focused on growing the resources, programs and education offered for both expectant and birth families, and adoptive families. Jess has spent the last 5 years working in the field of private adoption, first as a paralegal for an Adoption Attorney in Louisiana and most recently with PairTree. As a birth mom of two through private adoption, her firsthand experience of both agency and attorney adoption led her to becoming an adoption professional and join the fight for reform and post placement care for birth moms.

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