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Did you know that in some states it is illegal for an adopting family to advertise for a birth mother to place her child with you?

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

One of the challenges for prospective adoptive parents is locating an adoptable child or finding birth parents willing to place their child for adoption. Some parents choose to advertise their interest in adopting, while others may choose to utilize the services of adoption facilitators or intermediaries. In an effort to protect the interests of all parties, many States have enacted laws that either prohibit or regulate these means of making private adoptive placements. You may also want to check the laws of the state in which the birth father and birth mother reside and the state in which the adoption was, or will be, finalized.

The following is adapted from the Child Welfare Information Gateway website referenced above.

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements (Current through April 2004)

You may wish to review this introductory text to better understand the information contained in your State's statute. To see how your State addresses this issue, visit ChildAdoptionLaws.com or the CWIG website referenced above.

Making Adoptive Placements

All States permit the placement of children for adoption by agencies, either publicly sponsored agencies, such as a department of the State government, or private child-placing agencies that have been licensed by the State. These placements are known as agency adoptions. Many people choose to adopt without the involvement of an agency; these placements are known as private placements or independent adoptions. Private placement is often preferred by people who want to adopt newborn infants or want to avoid the often years-long waiting lists of agency adoptions.

The challenge for prospective adoptive parents in a private placement is locating a child who is appropriate for their family or finding birth parents willing to place their child for adoption. Some parents choose to advertise their interest in adopting, while others may choose to utilize the services of adoption facilitators or intermediaries. In an effort to protect the interests of all parties, many States have enacted laws that either prohibit or regulate these means of making private adoptive placements.

Use of Advertising

Advertising is defined as the publication in any public medium, either print or electronic, of either an interest in adopting a child or the availability of a specific child for adoption. This can include newspapers, radio, television, the Internet, billboards, or print flyers. Approximately 26 States currently have enacted statutes that in some way limit or regulate the use of advertising in adoptive placement.

States That Permit Adoption Advertising. Connecticut specifically allows advertising by birth parents and prospective adoptive parents. An additional eight States allow advertisement by agencies and other entities such as attorneys (in Florida), crisis pregnancy centers (Louisiana), birth parents (Nebraska), facilitators (North Carolina), and prospective adoptive parents who have favorable pre placement assessments (North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin). Georgia allows the use of public advertising by agencies only; individuals such as birth parents and prospective adoptive parents may exchange information by private means only, such as letters or phone calls.

States That Prohibit Adoption Advertising. Two States (Alabama and Kentucky) prohibit any use of advertising by any person or entity. Another 12 States prohibit advertising by anyone other than the State department or a licensed agency. Utah specifically prohibits advertising by attorneys, physicians, or other persons. In Virginia, no person or agency may advertise to perform any adoption-related activity that is prohibited by State law, and a physician, attorney, or clergyman may not advertise that he or she is available to make recommendations for adoptive placement, as that is also an activity that is prohibited by law.

Use of Facilitators or Intermediaries

In an independent or private placement adoption, a person or organization will often act as an intermediary (or facilitator) to match up or bring together a prospective adoptive parent with a birth mother wishing to place her child. An intermediary or adoption facilitator is any person or entity that is not an approved or licensed agency that acts on behalf of any birth parent or prospective adoptive parent in connection with the placement of the child for adoption. In an effort to ensure that no person, either the intermediary or a member of the birth family, profits from the placement of a child, many States have enacted statutes that regulate the use of intermediaries or facilitators.

States That Prohibit the Use of Facilitators. Approximately two States (Delaware and Kansas) strictly prohibit any use of facilitators or intermediaries. Five States prohibit their use by restricting the placement of children to licensed agencies only (in Georgia, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon). Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and the District of Columbia restrict the placement of children to either an agency or a member of the child's birth family. Ohio and Oklahoma limit placements to an agency, family member, or attorney.

States That Regulate the Activities of Facilitators. Twelve States regulate the activities of intermediaries by limiting the compensation that they can receive. It is illegal for these entities to receive any payment for the placement of the child; reimbursement for actual medical or legal services is the only payment that they can receive. Eight States allow the use of adoption facilitators, but detail in statute the activities they are permitted or the services they are required to offer. These requirements may include:

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