What are Adoption Facilitators? Are they legal?


What is an adoption facilitator? While the definition could have some fluidity to it, likely an adoption facilitator is a person or group of people that help or assist with adoptions but have no license or oversight from the government. An attorney or adoption agency is likely not considered adoption facilitators because they are both licensed and a government entity oversees the services they provide. Another differential aspect is that an attorney or agency is required to have protections such as insurance and bonding, in order to provide adoption services while a facilitator may not.

I have always been of the opinion adoption agencies, attorneys and facilitators can have successful adoptions for families. However, using a facilitator may have more risks without the licensing or insurance. Also, many states and most countries do not allow adoption facilitators to provide services in their jurisdiction. For example, Indiana does not allow adoption facilitators to be retained/employed for Indiana residents. Sometimes a state may place restrictions on adoption service providers which could include licensing, payments, or insurance. Be sure you know your state’s laws when considering adoption. This is also complicated when you are attempting an adoption between states or an international adoption because the other jurisdictions also have guidelines regarding adoption service providers. I would not advise any resident of a state to use a facilitator or other entity unless it is allowed by their state. For Indiana, you can use an attorney or adoption agency for adoption services, advising or assistance but not another third party. The consequences to your adoption or adoption in general can be detrimental.

How do you know if you are using a facilitator?

  • A person that is not licensed.
  • An organization that is non-profit but not licensed.
  • An organization that is faith-based/mission based but not licensed.
  • A missionary in the foreign country helping families to adopt (no license).
  • An individual giving advice or assistance to you on the internet, Facebook, Yahoo groups, blogs (this might be against your states laws – it depends on if they are promoting adoption or actually advising or promoting specific children for adoption).
  • A current or previous adoptive parent providing available children or adoption advice.

If you are taking adoption advice or adoption assistance from a non-licensed, non-insured person or organization you may be in violation of your state’s laws, federal laws or international laws. This could jeopardize your adoption or adoptions in the future. While these individuals likely have the best intentions, if it violates the law – it is a problem. We need to see adoption as a whole picture and know that there are millions of orphans that need adoption and our actions should not jeopardize those children.

Adoptions in Guatemala, Vietnam, Haiti and adoptions in Africa have been jeopardized and even destroyed because of independent adoption processes and the actions of well-meaning facilitators. While attorneys and agencies have not been without fault as well, the U.S. State Department and many other government entities have found more fraud with facilitation programs and independent adoptions. We cannot jeopardize all adoptions from a country or even a region by placing our own personal desires above the greater good for orphans and the future of adoption. It is clear that the U.S. State Department and the international adoption community are committed to ethical and safe adoptions and the Hague Convention on inter-country adoption has been implemented in many countries that previously halted adoptions. Often we observe problems and a halting of adoptions in countries with independent adoptions (these adoptions often use facilitators), numerous mission groups working as facilitators, or countries in which waiting children are "advertised" all over social media and not through agencies (i.e. Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Haiti, Cambodia, Vietnam).

The actions of independent adoptions and facilitators have lead several countries to closing their doors to international adoptions and leaving thousands if not millions of orphans without a chance at adoption. The best example is currently Haiti as they allowed for independent international adoptions, choosing specific children, missionaries or previous adoptive parents to advise on independent adoptions. The U.S. State Department specifically provided a notice/warning for all Haitian indpendent adoptions and is now advising Haiti on completely changing their international adoption process. Therefore, we will see the future of Haitian adoptions drastically changed forever in the next year as they are currently implementing the Hague Convention. If our risk in pursuing an independent adoption creates risk in our own adoption and causes thousands of other children to not have the opportunity of a forever family, then why are we doing it?

Photo Credit: Javier Corbo

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.