Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements: Summary of State Laws
NOTE (by AdoptionOnline.com 2011): This information was last updated in 2009, state laws can change. This information should be considered a guideline only. Consult with a qulaified adoption attorney or agency before acting on the information found here.
To see how your State addresses this issue, visit the State Statutes Search.
Some people choose to adopt, and some birth parents choose to place their children for adoption, 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 domestically and utilize the services of an attorney or adoption services provider or manage the process more on their own.
The challenge for prospective adoptive parents in a private placement is locating a child who is appropriate for their family or finding birth parents seeking 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, especially children, many States have enacted laws that either prohibit or regulate the use of advertising or facilitators for 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. Public media include newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, telephone book listings, the Internet, billboards, or print fliers. Approximately 29 States currently have laws that in some way limit or regulate the use of advertising in adoptive placement.1
States That Permit Adoption Advertising
Connecticut specifically allows advertising by birth parents and prospective adoptive parents only. An additional 12 States allow advertising by agencies and other entities including attorneys (Florida, Indiana, Mississippi), physicians (Mississippi), crisis pregnancy centers (Louisiana), birth parents (Illinois, Nebraska), facilitators (North Carolina), prospective adoptive parents (Illinois, Kansas), and those prospective adoptive parents with approved preplacement assessments or home studies (North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin).2 Georgia allows the use of public advertising by agencies only; individuals including birth parents and prospective adoptive parents may exchange information by private means only, such as letters or telephone calls.
States That Prohibit Adoption Advertising
Two States (Alabama and Kentucky) prohibit any use of advertising by any person or entity. Another 11 States prohibit advertising by any person or entity other than the State social services department or a licensed agency.3 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; physicians, attorneys, and members of clergy are not allowed to charge a fee for recommending an adoptive placement nor advertise that they are available to make such recommendations, as that also is prohibited by law.4
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 prospective adoptive parent/parents with a birth mother/birth parents wishing to place a 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 a child for adoption. In an effort to ensure that no intermediary or member of the birth family profits from the placement of a child, approximately 41 States, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa have laws that regulate or affect the use of intermediaries or facilitators.5
States That Prohibit the Use of Facilitators
Two States (Delaware and Kansas) strictly prohibit any use of facilitators or intermediaries. Eight States prohibit their use by restricting the placement of children to licensed agencies only.6 Nebraska limits the placement of children to either an agency or a member of the child's birth family. Minnesota and Nevada restrict the placement to a parent, legal guardian, or agency. The District of Columbia and New York limit the placement to an agency, parent, legal guardian, or birth relative. Arizona and Ohio restrict the placement to an agency or an attorney. Oklahoma limits the placement to an agency, family member, or attorney.
States That Regulate the Activities of Facilitators
Fifteen States and American Samoa regulate the activities of intermediaries by limiting the compensation that they are allowed to receive.7 It is illegal for these persons or agencies to receive any payment for the placement of the child; reimbursement for actual medical or legal services is the only payment that they are allowed to receive. Nine States allow the use of adoption facilitators but detail in statute the activities they are permitted to perform or the services they are required to offer.8 These requirements may include:
- Providing written information about the adoption process to all parties (California, Florida, Michigan, and Washington)
- Providing to the adopting parent any available background information about the child's birth parent (California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania)
- Making sure that the adopting parents have completed home studies that have been approved (New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
- Reporting to the court all fees and expenses paid (California, Florida, and Pennsylvania)
In Florida, where adoption facilitators are frequently attorneys, the law requires facilitators to obtain all necessary consents, file petitions and affidavits, and serve notices of hearings. In North Carolina and Vermont, the law explicitly states that a parent or guardian must personally select a prospective adoptive parent; the role of a facilitator is limited to either assisting the birth parent in evaluating that choice or assisting a prospective adoptive parent in locating a child who is available for adoption.
To see how your State addresses this issue, visit the State Statutes Search.
To find information on all of the States and territories, view the complete printable PDF, Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 282 KB).
1 The word approximately is used to stress the fact that States frequently amend their laws. This information is current through April 2009. The 29 States include Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. back
2 For more information about preplacement assessments, see Child Welfare Information Gateway's The Adoption Home Study Process (back)
3 California, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas. (back)
4 Virginia law prohibits payment for making an adoptive placement, except as compensation for specific services such as agency fees, medical or legal expenses, or other reasonable expenses connected with the adoption process. (back)
5 Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. (back)
6 Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wisconsin. (back)
7 Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. (back)
8 California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington. (back)
This publication is a product of the State Statutes Series prepared by Child Welfare Information Gateway. While every attempt has been made to be as complete as possible, additional information on these topics may be in other sections of a State's code as well as agency regulations, case law, and informal practices and procedures.
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The information on this page is mainly from The Child Welfare Information Gateway and is used by permission.