To start with, an adoption agent is the core link between the adoptive parents, the biological parents and the adoption agency or institution. It can be rightly said, that a child's future depends a lot on the skills of an adoption agent. If you are looking out for a career in child welfare, then there is nothing better than applying to be an adoption agent.
Adoption Agent: Eligibility Criterion
An ideal candidate for the post of adoption agent is expected to have a two years full-time master's degree in Social work (MSW) or a law degree. Ideally, an additional qualification in international adoption laws and psychology is a must. After successful completion of your degree or master's degree, you might be expected to work in a state-owned adoption institute for a minimum of 3000 hours before you qualify to officially work as an adoption agent. These are some of the basic and standard qualifications expected of an adoption agent. However, there might be slight state-wise variations in the expected formal credentials to apply for this post.
Training and Licensing
You need to possess a sufficient training, licenses and certifications from the state where you wish to work. This training can be acquired by working with some adoption institutions such as:
- Private agency with placement programs
- Private agency with a domestic infant placement program
- Private agency with an international placement program
- Public child welfare agency
The adoption agency usually conducts a background check for the adoption agent by scanning through the police records. An agent can be officially appointed only on receipt of a clean chit from the police.
Adoption Agent: Job Expectations
An adoption agent, being a link between the birth parents and adoptive parents, has to handle a lot of emotions. He or she needs to be gentle, alert, open-minded and patient. At the same time, he or she needs to be completely honest about certain facts with either sets of parents or relatives. One of the core responsibility of an adoption agent is to help the birth mother or birth parents erase the guilt of giving up a child for adoption or foster care. Similarly, the experience of separation from a child at birth can be very traumatic for a birth mother. It is the agent's responsibility to counsel her.
Hold Home Study
The adoption agent is expected to hold a home study visit wherein there are some mandatory procedures. The agent is expected to talk to all members of the family individually and in groups about the entire adoption process. This is what makes up the pre-adoption home study:
- There are a set of documents that need to be filled and signed by the adoptive parents as well as the adoption agent. These documents form the basis of an adoption application.
- During a home study, the adoption agent is expected to judge if the family is really suitable to adopt a child.
- The adoption agent has to inform the family about the pros and cons of adoption, so as to prepare them for the actual adoption.
- The agent has to inspect the actual home environment, run a check of criminal records on prospective adoptive parents and create a home study report. This home study report is handed over to the adoption panel for their review.
The adoption agent is expected to hold a pre-adoption training for the prospective adoptive parents before the actual adoption takes place. These training usually involves details on child care, case studies on how to inform the child about his adoption, etc.
An adoption agent can expect an average salary ranging anywhere between $80,000 to $94,000 annually. These salaries may vary from state to state.
One needs to keep in mind that this job is not a field that offers a fat paycheck. Being an adoption agent is a satisfying job that makes you an angel of hope for the child, the adoptive parents as well the birth parents. Since you happen to be the main mediator during the adoption process, you are likely to be contact by the adopted child or his birth parents if they seek for a parent and child reunion. So, if you want to do something for the greater good without any materialistic temptation, then go for it!