Adoption advertising . Is it legal ?

Understanding and maneuvering the world of online adoption advertising and facilitating services 

I hope this post will help educate you in regards to the field of adoption advertising and facilitating .

I created a new technique to adopt over 40 years ago which has since been labeled as adoption facilitating . The  flaws of adoption facilitating soon became evident as an unregulated field, and so I went on to create another never-been -done-before  online advertising service  years ago , which blossomed into Chosen Parents Adoptions Inc. Chosen Parents Adoptions is now a one of a kind service that anyone else would have a very hard time replicating as there are not a lot of people out there willing to take the huge financial risks that we do .

Just as with facilitating , a myriad of others followed suit and there are now  a number of  online adoption services out there to choose from . I want to educate people on what to look for in these services , in part to make sure that they are legal in your state . As always , make sure that you run everything past your state licensed attorney before proceeding with any service. 

The easiest way to get my point across is to give you an example of my recent experience .Yes , no doubt that is what has prompted this rant , but that is the best time as if I wait I will go on to other things to rant about and I will forget about this one .

 There is an online service that touts itself as a tech company that allows prospective adopting families to post their profile on their site for a monthly fee . Communication from expectant mothers goes directly to the adopting family , as it should . Over the years , Chosen Parents Adoptions has referred expecting mothers  to attorneys that were seeking a very particular family and we were able to go the site of this online business and reach out to a family that  fit the criteria to let them know about the case. At least 6 families chose to move forward and had successful adoptions. 

The CEO of the company sent us an email demanding that we not reach out , that we were being unethical . and I called him and explained that we were in no way seeking to “steal ” his clients , and that wasn’t the purpose of his  site to allow the adopting parents find matches ?  I honestly had no idea that they wanted to restrict  those that reached out , as we are always overjoyed when someone adopts no matter where the lead came from . Based on my argument , he relented and “gave me permission ” to reach out with specific cases to those on his site that fit the criteria that was being sought . That was in 2019 . Overall, we had only reached out over the course of many years maybe a dozen times. 

We really had no reason to seek families for a couple of years after that call , but recently I located a couple of  families on their site that I felt would fit he criteria of a mother that one of our attorney clients was working with. I sent a brief message pointing out the case and a statement that I had permission to reach out to them . I never heard back , and  then my IP address was almost immediately blocked from the site . I sent an email to the CEO asking for an explanation and received no response . 

So , taking the example above , I see nothing wrong with the service wherein they are charging a fee to have a profile on their site . Whether they ever advertise their site is another story entirely . I like the fact that families are contacted directly ,although I am unsure whether the emails really are direct , or vetted and removed by the online company . 
The problem with this company , as I see it , as that as soon as they began vetting incoming situations and blocking people and/or businesses that may be contacting these families with a potential opportunity , they have crossed the threshold of being an ” online adoption advertising service ” and being an “adoption facilitating service”, which is illegal in many states and requires proper licensing and bonding in others . This particular company , based out of California , is not licensed to facilitate adoptions as required by California state family code. 

“An Adoption Facilitator is an independent business entity that is in the business of matching prospective adoptive parent(s) with birth parent(s) who have decided to place their child for adoption. An Adoption Facilitator’s only legitimate service is to arrange contact between the birth parent and the prospective adoptive parent(s).”

I believe that this  company , in essence , is assisting with the match by controlling and driving the traffic and leads and  eliminating sources that affect their  bottom line .The key words are “to arrange contact ” , as in the case of vetting and blocking , they are arranging contact with cases that they have approved.  I also call into question whether these poor families are even aware of the fact that they are paying a monthly fee in the hopes that they will receive potential leads , and that the company that they are entrusting may be blocking those very leads.  Do  they really want that family to adopt , or are they worried that they will lose $150 a month in income ? It is very sad to me , as I doubt that these families have any idea. Whether they are acting in an illegal capacity as an unlicensed facilitator , or whether they are not giving their clients the benefit of their bargain by not allowing prospective leads to be communicated is a legal question , but either way it just feels sleezy to me. 

Chosen Parents Adoptions does not charge a fee to be on our site , we are contracted with attorneys and agencies to advertise and we are never involved in arranging contact between the birth parents and prospective adopting parents, so we are NOT adoption facilitators. We have not had any issues with advertising in any state , although we have been through many state investigations to make sure that we are following their laws. This is a good thing , as it shows that there are departments in every state that are looking out for vulnerable women and children in their state . 

In closing , I always want to  encourage you  to follow your  dreams of adoption ,and to network with as many legitimate services out there as you can . I recommend that if you are paying a monthly fee for an online service , either make sure that they are a licensed adoption facilitator in their state , and that there is no problem using a facilitator to assist you in your arrangement of contact with an expecting mother. IF it is agreed that any incoming  leads are to go directly to you , make sure that you are using an email address that is not being vetted. If it is agreed that any leads that come in from the online service’s advertising are vetted , make sure that you speak to your attorney before using that service , as it is my opinion that they are facilitators , and not just an online advertising service , and facilitators must be legal in your state . Most attorneys are approved to facilitate , except in a few states such as New York . 

I also recommend that if you are paying a monthly fee to an online service that you do NOT use the link to your profile to advertise on your own . Do not send it out on social media , do not use it in Google Adwords campaigns, especially do NOT  use it  to send to a prospective mother or an adoption professional that may have a case that you are interested in . By driving potential cases to that link you are creating your own competition, as that lead has now discovered a site that has hundreds of other potential adopting families to choose from . If you are doing your own outreach , set up your own profile on facebook or create a website and use that link instead .