Examining the Role of Adoption Facilitators: What North Carolina Can Learn from California’s Ban

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adoption facilitators

Adoption is a beautiful journey that unites families, but it can also be complex and challenging. The matching process, the second step after a home study, could involve adoption facilitators, who connect birth parents with prospective adoptive parents, if those seeking to adopt decide to work with them.

While some facilitators have drawn criticism for unethical practices, not all matching services are problematic. Many facilitators provide invaluable support and guidance. However, they only handle the matching process—they do not conduct due diligence or provide follow-through for the adoptive family. To complete your adoption journey, you’ll need to engage other professionals such as an adoption lawyer, for guidance.

Recently, California made headlines by banning adoption facilitators, sparking a nationwide debate on their role and regulation. This blog from a knowledgeable and experienced adoption attorney explains North Carolina adoption law, the role of an adoption facilitator, and the implications of the California law banning adoption facilitators—set to go into effect in January 2024—for North Carolina adoptions.

Continue reading for more information about NC adoption law and adoption facilitators, then contact us at (919) 306-2899 to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation.

Adoption in NC

Adoption is the legal means of giving a child a safe and loving home. It involves terminating the rights of the birth parents and granting legal parental status to the adoptive family.

Adoption can include:

  • Providing a child with new opportunities for a more stable life with an adoptive family
  • Terminating a biological parent’s parental rights
  • Bestowing legal parenting rights to a relative or a step-parent to raise the child responsibly
  • Permitting a child over 12 to choose adoption by a prospective adoptive parent

What Is An Adoption Facilitator?

An adoption facilitator is an individual or entity that connects prospective adoptive parents with expectant mothers considering adoption for their unborn child.

In North Carolina, as in many states, adoption facilitators can perform various tasks. They might assist with advertising to connect birth parents with potential adoptive families, provide information and resources about adoption services, and offer emotional support to all involved parties. Facilitators compile adoptive family profiles that present prospective parents in a favorable light to expectant mothers.

However, as we mentioned, a facilitator is not an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer. Facilitators do not possess the legal authority to place children for adoption, and are generally not involved in the legal process of adoption. In North Carolina, only a parent or a licensed adoption agency can place a child for adoption. While anyone can facilitate an adoptive placement, only an adoption agency can be compensated for facilitation or the placement of a child for adoption. Furthermore, adoption facilitators cannot provide legal advice or represent clients in court—tasks reserved for adoption attorneys.

Consequently, while adoption facilitators can provide valuable services, they have clearly defined limitations. An adoptive parent still needs to consult an adoption attorney to navigate the intricacies of adoption law. Consider an adoption facilitator as a supplementary service, not a replacement for an adoption attorney’s professional legal counsel or a private adoption agency’s comprehensive services.

Benefits of Choosing Adoption Facilitators

Unlike other adoption professionals who offer various services, adoption facilitators solely specialize in the matchmaking process. While every adoption facilitator is different, many operate nationwide, maximizing opportunities for adoptive families. Because facilitators don’t limit their search to just one state, North Carolina families who choose to work with facilitators can potentially find adoption opportunities more quickly.

What You Need to Know About Adoption Facilitators

Have you thought about working with an adoption facilitator? Consider the following:

First, unlike adoption agencies, not all adoption facilitators are not subject to government reviews— meaning, there is no guarantee that they will deliver on their promises, and the only feedback you have to rely on comes from previous clients. Without regulations or certifications, facilitators may not always adhere to state adoption laws. In fact, if they find you an adoption opportunity from a state where they’re illegal, you could run into legal issues.

Second, adoption facilitators in North Carolina do not offer additional adoption services, such as contact mediation, counseling, assessments, or legal representation. You’ll need to hire professionals for these crucial services if you choose to work with a facilitator.

As we mentioned, in North Carolina, paying adoption facilitators is illegal, complicating the process of working with one for a baby adoption in the state.

Finally, there is a significant financial aspect of partnering with an out-of-state adoption facilitator, which often results in higher costs compared to adoption agencies. Furthermore, if a match falls through or the prospective birth parents decide to keep the child, facilitators may not provide financial protection.

Weigh the pros and cons and consider all your options before moving forward. We’re here to provide the information you need to make an informed choice.

California Bans Unethical Adoption Brokers, Protecting Parents and Pregnant Women

California has taken a strong stand against unlicensed agents who exploit vulnerable pregnant women for adoption. These so-called “baby brokers” have been operating with little oversight and charging exorbitant fees to desperate parents in the Golden State.

A new law accompanying the California budget has outlawed these unethical facilitators, who have until January 1, 2024, to cease operations. Moving forward, licensed agencies or attorneys will strictly oversee private adoptions to ensure a higher level of protection for adoptive parents and pregnant women.

The Department of Social Services will enforce this law by referring offenders to law enforcement agencies. This decisive action sends an unmistakable message: California will not tolerate the exploitation of those involved in the adoption process, and seeks to secure a safer, more ethical approach to adoption.

Why Do Some People Use Adoption Facilitators?

Many adoptions originate from the foster care system. However, this lengthy process can take several years before an adoption is finalized and often does not guarantee a particular outcome. Adoption facilitators work privately outside the court system, promising a quicker and less expensive method of taking in babies from birth mothers — many of whom deal with the hardships of poverty.

In contrast to adoption agencies, which California heavily regulates, facilitators in the state have no requirement to obtain a license, although they list their names and basic information on a publicly available state registry. At present, 15 names appear on this list of California facilitators spanning from Temecula to Walnut Creek. However, child and family advocates have sounded the alarm over the lack of oversight or consequences these facilitators face for unethical practices such as:

  • False advertising
  • Failure to give birth mothers the support they need
  • Demanding upfront payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars

What Led to California’s Renewed Focus on Adoption Facilitators?

A recent investigation by The Sacramento Bee set off a fierce debate on the regulation of adoption facilitators in the Golden State. Shockingly, Little Angel Adoptions, a prominent Sacramento-based agency, allegedly pocketed a staggering $245,000 in upfront fees from 21 hopeful families.

Their promises of fulfilling their clients’ dreams of parenthood, however, turned out to be empty. Countless anticipated connections with expectant mothers were tragically severed, leaving these families heartbroken. To make matters worse, California’s ambiguous oversight system put unsuspecting parents at risk, providing no insight into an adoption facilitator’s track record of successful placements.

Desperate parents, having poured substantial sums into this process, found themselves without recourse when promised adoptions fall apart.

Inspired by The Sacramento Bee article, California State Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R) introduced SB 807, to end the use of non-licensed adoption entities. By May, this bill merged with a similar effort during the budget process, solidifying California as the 29th state to ban adoption facilitators. This groundbreaking decision also affects operators in other states—such as North Carolina—who aspire to adopt children in the Golden State.

Mills Adoption Law: Experience for What Matters Most— Family

Have you been searching online for “adoption lawyers near me” for help with the adoption process in North Carolina? Choose the right adoption attorney by consulting a law firm that focuses exclusively on adoption. Bobby Mills, the founder of Mills Adoption Law, has over 35 years of experience in family law, enabling him to provide the informed guidance you need. Having represented all members of the adoption triad—adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees—he has seen things and can anticipate problems other attorneys will not anticipate. Contact him at (919) 306-2899 or complete the online form to schedule your free, 15-minute consultation.

Copyright © 2023. Mills Adoption Law. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Mills Adoption Law
4600 Marriott Dr, Ste 350
Raleigh, NC 27612
(919) 306-2899

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