In the Context of Adoption, What Does It Mean To Live in An “Agency State”?

Prospective adopters, researching on the web, learn that there are a number of types of adoption professionals. [1] Since so many states allow facilitators to match and allow attorneys to handle adoptive placements, and Massachusetts does not, a discerning adopter begins to have questions about what it means for their adoption process to be living in an, “agency state.” A few states (e.g. Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware and Massachusetts) are “agency states.” Within each state, there are variations on the meaning of this term. With respect to the state of Massachusetts,[2] there are seven key questions to consider:

Q. 1 . Who can complete or facilitate an adoption placement in Massachusetts?

A. Unlike most other states in the country, in Massachusetts, private adoptions are prohibited, and attorneys are not allowed to arrange placement of children, although they can assist families with legal consultation and finalization. In Massachusetts, only licensed child placing agencies, such as the Department of Children and Families or private agencies incorporated and licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, are permitted to place or facilitate placement a child for adoption. There are exceptions, e.g. with respect to relatives, and, thus, it is appropriate to consult with a Massachusetts agency as to the applicability of their services and to request a legal opinion from your attorney for specific situations.[3]

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