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Public or private adoption agencies: what's the difference?

Many couples in Maryland choose adoption as a way to grow their family. In some cases, it's because the couple is not able to have children of their own. For others, adoption is a great way to give a child in need a home. Whatever the reason, couples, as well as individuals, need to consider whether they will start the adoption process through a public or private agency. That's because, once the process has been started by signing a contract, adopters are prohibited by law to begin negotiations with another agency.

So what's the difference between private and public adoption agencies, you may ask? That's a good question. Unlike private agencies, which get their funding from fees collected from adopters, public agencies get their funding from local governments. Public agencies are also more likely than private agencies to handle adoptions resulting from a parent relinquishing their parental rights to the state or placement of children into the foster care system.

Another difference, especially here in Maryland, is the type of adoptions each agency is more likely to perform. Here in Maryland, public agencies are more likely to handle domestic cases and may be more focused on handling cases involving special-needs children. Private agencies in our state, on the other hand, are more likely to handle international adoptions, though they also handle domestic cases as well.

It's important to keep in mind that all private adoption agencies in Maryland charge a fee for their services. Also, adoptions and placements of foster children are not always guaranteed for every family or individual. And in some situations, it may be necessary to seek legal representation as well.

Source: dhr.state.md.us, "Private Adoption Agencies," Accessed Sept. 30, 2015

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