There are two types of adoption agencies: public and private. Public agencies are associated with each state's child placements, generally limited to placing children from the foster care system. Public agencies are funded by the state with help from the federal government.
Private adoption agencies are businesses owned and run by individuals, groups, or organizations, and they can be involved in domestic adoptions of infants and older children, and international adoptions.
Many private adoption agencies also have contracts with the state in which they are located to help with adoptions of children in foster care.
Private agencies must be licensed by the state(s) in which they operate, but agencies vary widely in the range of services offered. Some private agencies offer in-house pre-adoption education and counseling; some offer post-adoption services. Some agencies provide referrals to educators and counselors, both pre- and post-adoption.
Over the past few decades, we have come to understand the critical importance of education and counseling (both before and after adoption) to adopting, placing, and adoptive families. Many agencies are ensuring that their clients are at least given the opportunity to attend classes and counseling sessions, and a few are beginning to require it.
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