When seeking a private adoption, you can take three routes -- using an agency, a lawyer or a combination of the two.
Agencies set criteria on who they accept, and you'll have to apply. If you're accepted, you wait to be matched or selected by a birth mother affiliated with the agency. You get the full range of adoption services and support throughout, but the agency's criteria and birth parents' involvement in the selection can create an unpredictable timeline.
With an adoption lawyer, you and your lawyer seek out the birth mother on your own. This could be through mailing resumes to obstetricians, advertising or creating a Web site. That said, although you're in control and outside of agency restrictions, costs and time can vary. Also, adoptions via a lawyer are illegal in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware and Massachusetts.
In a hybrid of the two options, sometimes you can use a lawyer to help find the birth mother and an agency to complete the remainder of the process. This can help connect you with those additional agency services, such as home study assistance (which we'll discuss more in an upcoming section) and counseling.