What Is An Adoption Facilitator? Should I Hire One?
An adoption facilitator is someone other than a licensed child-placing agency who charges or accepts money, including “donations,” legal fees, medical fees, advertising fees, etc. in return for finding you an opportunity to adopt.
In Tennessee, placing a child for money is only permissible for a licensed child-placing agency and no one else.
Only Work with a Licensed Child-Placing Agency
Dawn sometimes gets calls from Tennessee prospective adoptive parents who are deep in discussion with a facilitator who claims that it is perfectly fine for a Tennessee family to send them $5000-$7000 so there will be a baby in their crib in 60 to 90 days. They just can’t believe that Tennessee law blocks them from this “great opportunity.” The facilitator says, “We work all the time with Tennessee families” or “It is actually just advertising, or profile posting.” If part of the service offered for the fee or “donation” you are paying is connecting you with a particular opportunity to adopt, Tennesseans cannot participate, regardless of the rationalization or cute way around the law offered by this person, who wants your money.
Does the facilitator’s speal sound credible to you? If so, why don’t the licensed child-placing agencies who have LCSW’s, directors, state audits and oversight, and who also make money on a per placement basis, do the same cool trick?
Dawn has heard the sad stories of aspiring families who were taken advantage of, heartbroken, and who are embarrassed by falling for what now sounds too good to be true. Yes, people really are that mean and yes, sometimes those mean people even claim a faith-based affiliation and no, at least so far as we know, they have not been struck by lightning.
The regulation of adoption agencies is designed to protect you, the birth parents and the child. And in Tennessee it works reasonably well. Almost all of the bad actors who prey on Tennessee families are from outside of Tennessee. If you obey the law, you can’t opt out of the protections offered by adoption agency licensing and you really don’t want to.
Facilitators and Tennessee Adoption Law
The controlling law is Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-108 and 36-1-109, which say (with some simplification), that it is unlawful for any person, corporation, agency or entity other than the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) or a licensed child-placing agency to charge or receive any fee or contribution for services or assistance, including advertising, directed toward bringing or placing a child with prospective adoptive parents.