November is Adoption Month! Working with a Private Adoption Agency

November 23, 2016

Private adoption agencies in Maryland must be licensed by the Social Services Administration. A licensed agency will deliver counseling, application, home study, and post placement services for a family or individual interested in adopting a child or having a child adopted.


Private adoption agencies are the most frequent providers of international adoption services, since public agencies are usually more focused on special-needs children. Domestic adoption services are also delivered by private adoption agencies.


Once a contract is signed with an agency, it is illegal to begin negotiating for adoption services with another adoption agency. All private agencies charge a fee for their services. There is no limit on the amount an agency may charge. All private agencies will, however, inform applicants of the fee schedule.


In the case of international adoption service, it is often necessary for an adopting family to travel to the foreign country and spend several days in order to finalize the adoption. The private adoption agency assists the family in this process.


A list of agencies is available from the State of Maryland Office of Licensing and Monitoring.


Question: What will a licensed private child placement agency do for me?


  • Complete an initial interview with you and provide basic information;

  • If you are still interested after the interview, conduct a home study (the home study may not be completed by a licensed social worker unless that social worker is employed by a licensed child placement agency);

  • Provide you with information about adoption processes;

  • Locate and place a child in your home for adoption;

  • Provide post-placement services.


Question: How much will it cost me to use a private child placement agency?


  • There is no legal cap on the amount an agency charges for its services;

  • Usually, an agency divides the amount charged into categories, such as application fee, home study fee, post-placement services, etc.;

  • If a fee is collected from an agency and the specific services for which the fee is contracted are not rendered, the agency must return that fee;

  • All private Maryland agencies are required to use a sliding scale to allow services to be provided for an array of economic categories.


Question: What does a private child placement agency need to do in order to be licensed?


  • In order to obtain initial licensure a private agency must be incorporated and provide the Department of Human Resources with a wide range of documents and other written material;

  • The agency must have an office located in Maryland;

  • The chief administrator of the agency must be a physician licensed to practice in Maryland, an attorney who is a member of the Maryland Bar, or a social worker licensed to practice in Maryland;

  • The agency is monitored by staff persons from the Department of Human Resources;

  • The agency must be re-licensed every two years.


Information provided by: Maryland Department of Human Resources



Fanning Law, LLC Can Help


The facts of each case are unique and the laws surrounding adoption can be complicated.  This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. It is not legal advice. For more information about your specific questions, contact Bill Fanning at Fanning Law, LLC - The Offices of William C. Fanning, Jr. - 301.934.3620 or at  


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