Why Use an Adoption Agency?
In this increasingly tech-savvy era, when social media has become so widely used for nearly everything, why use an adoption agency?
After all, adoption agency fees are not cheap these days, considering the licensing standards to which adoption agencies in Texas (and elsewhere) are held, coupled with constantly-rising operating costs in every industry.
And sure, any pregnant girl can just get online and google adoption or “adopt my baby” and find plenty of people willing to do an adoption, whether legally or under the table.
So what, exactly, do adoption agencies do, anymore? The best adoption agencies help parents and protect children, and they work at making each adoption healthier for everyone involved, in a way that adoption attorneys and adoption facilitators and baby brokers never will.
What Adoption Agencies Used To Do
Most adoption agencies began as foundling homes and orphanages. Back in the latter part of the 1800s and the early 1900s, infant formula did not yet exist, and birth control did not exist, so poor families and unmarried women had few (and dire) options, besides parenting: baby farms, child abandonment, and/or infanticide.
Churches and social aid groups began creating programs and places to shelter children without parents able to care for them. The huge influx of immigrants on the East Coast, however, quickly overwhelmed what few resources there were set up, so the orphan trains began transporting unwanted children of all ages across the US, so people in rural areas could take these kids in, in exchange for free labor.
Problems with these arrangements, however, resulted in the eventual development of adoption standards that included homestudies and supervision, and children’s homes began to practice adoption more routinely, giving rise to such historic institutions as the The New York Foundling, Children’s Home Society, Edna Gladney Adoption Center, Spence-Chapin and others.
The stigma of illegitimacy (pregnant unwed mothers) made adoption a much more popular option in America in the mid-1900s, and the highest number of infant adoptions occurred between 1940-1975, a time that became known as the Baby Scoop Era. Pregnant girls and unwed moms were hidden away in maternity homes owned by adoption agencies, so nobody knew they were pregnant and placing, and most adoptions back then were closed, meaning the birthparents and adoptive parents were also hidden from each other. The (erroneous) assumption back then was that each child’s parents had no need to know the other. (There was no consideration even given to whether the adopted child might need to have any say in that matter?)
Back then, adoption agencies essentially served as gatekeepers and guardians of lifelong secrets, hiding birthparents and adoptive parents from each other. The adoption agencies had tremendous power over the process, but great responsibility, as well, and adoptive families were wrongfully encouraged to raise their adopted children to not even know of the adoption until or unless they were fully grown and the truth had to come out for some reason.
What Adoption Agencies Do Now
The public misconception of adoption agencies is that an agency’s job is to find healthy babies for homes that want them. Today’s adoption professionals know, however, that good adoptions are about finding good homes for kids that need them. At Abrazo, we understand the importance of involving birthparents and adoptive parents in the adoption process, and raising children who are adopted to know the truth of their own origins right from the beginning of their lives (telling them about their adoptions as early as possible.)
Social mores have changed, as has the availability of birth control and abortion services, and single mothers are far more common in American society than they used to be. As a result, fewer girls and women feel the need to consider adoption, resulting in dropping adoption statistics across the nation, even as the number of abused and neglected children in American foster care continues to rise. Expectant mothers without husbands are no longer forced to hide out in maternity homes until after their babies’ birth and/or placement; adoption itself is no longer kept secret by those who do it nor by those who have been adopted. Adoption is still a viable option, however, and probably always will be.
Adoption agency services have changed, as well. Adoption agencies such as Abrazo still offer casework, counseling services, homestudies and post-placement supervision, as are needed in any ethical adoption. Yet Abrazo also offers prenatal care for pregnant women needing to place and pre-adoption education to parents interested in adoption. Abrazo helps match available children with qualified adoptive parents, of course, and facilitates safe and compassionate friendships between the parents who are surrendering parental rights and those who hope to become parents. Yet in Texas, as a licensed adoption agency, Abrazo is also able to provide expectant mothers planning to place with a range of assistance throughout pregnancy and after placement, like housing or rent assistance, groceries, clothing, pregnancy-related transportation, utility support, childcare for other children in their care, and more.
Some private adoption agencies have branched into doing embryo adoptions, gay adoptions and/or surrogacy arrangements, while still others have subcontracted with the State to help find homes for older children who are no longer babies.
At Abrazo, some of our most important services go far beyond the scope of finding good homes for children that need them. Abrazo’s clients, whether they are placing or adopting a child, need plenty of hand-holding. At Abrazo, you’ll find a large community of support to offer you ongoing encouragement and information and advice, throughout the adoption process and over the years that follow. Parents who have placed or adopted through Abrazo, as well as their children, know that the agency’s staff continues to be available to them for counseling and consultation, at no additional charge (and has done so for 23 years, now.) Our agency’s online community, the Abrazo Forum, is a free repository of open adoption information, and the agency’s annual reunion, Camp Abrazo, offers post-adoption support for birthfamilies and adoptive families and adoptees alike.
The best adoption agencies, like Abrazo, know that their job isn’t done when a baby goes home with a new adoptive family. That’s just the beginning, and the more adoption professionals can do to continue to offer support to the birthparents and the adoptive parents who made each adoption possible, the better off each adopted child will surely be.
So remember this information– and be sure to share Abrazo’s phone number and website, the next time you hear someone ask “why use an adoption agency?”