ANLC’s Response to The Baby Brokers: Inside America’s Murky Private-Adoption Industry

Recently, TIME published an article singling out and outlining the perceived role of Adoption Network Law Center (ANLC) in the domestic newborn adoption industry in the United States. As a team, we are deeply saddened by the Time article. It has affected each and every one of us. We strive and will always strive to honor and support expectant mothers in their decisions. We love and honor birth mothers and for even one birth mother to feel that she wasn’t supported or heard breaks our hearts.  The Adoption Network brand (Adoption Network) has been operating for over 25 years completing over 6000 successful adoptions. We are proud of our current team which consists of strong, ethical and dedicated adoption professionals. The world of adoption is constantly evolving, therefore we are committed to learning and growing in our practice to best support the adoption community, which includes birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees.

Within the article, there were several accusations and suggestions that blatantly misrepresent the truth. In order to protect and maintain the privacy of past clients, birth mothers, and employees, Adoption Network is limited in disclosing specific details. However, some of the more broad accusations are addressed herein to shed true light and perspective on what are common practices within the adoption community.

Service and Retainer Fees

False Claim: ANLC is profit-driven at the expense of adoptive families and birth mothers

Reality: Within the article and video, there is mention of two fees. The first is Preliminary & Administrative Services and Marketing & Client Management Services Fee. This fee covers the following:

  • All of the administrative work involved in preparing an adoptive family for an adoption opportunity.
  • The ever-growing expense related to advertising through Google and other channels to make potential birth mothers aware of ANLC’s services. As the article correctly points out, “it is a fundamental problem of supply and demand;” there are more adoptive parents than there are birth mothers. The only way for an adoption entity to provide adoptive parents an adoption opportunity is to market, which costs money, time, and human resources.
  • The creation and publishing of the adoptive family’s profile used for marketing purposes.
  • A review of said profile by members of the target demographic to ensure optimal delivery.
  • Assignment of a Client Services Liaison who is dedicated to the adoptive family’s file regardless of whether the process takes a few months or a few years, and
  • A staff that is available to answer calls at 2 a.m. and support our birth mothers 24 hours a day.

Depending on how efficient we can be with advertising budgets, over the years we have been able to reduce the fees in this section to the current levels with some past agreements being more expensive, which is not indicative of profit maximization as the article suggests. Further, no matter how long an opportunity may take to present itself, the client is not asked to pay more even if marketing fees fail to cover all of the extended expenses. This is a one-time fixed fee.

The second fee is the Fundamental Readying and Legal Analysis Fee and Adoption Opportunity Service Fee. This fee covers the following services:

  • The expenses involved in developing a relationship with a potential birth mother to ensure a genuine adoption opportunity is presented to an adoptive family.
  • A legal review of the potential ICPC issues involved between the adoptive client state and the potential birth mother state.
  • The management of the adoption opportunity for as long as necessary.
  • Post-birth care and support for the birth mother involved for as long as is needed.

While some not involved or familiar with the rigors of the domestic adoption processes and legal pathways may find these fees high, we can assure you that they are well within the standards of adoption professionals and are necessary to ensure all operations are legal, ethical and that we are taking care of both the adoptive family and the birth mother. All of Adoption Network’s fees are clearly presented before a hopeful adopting family becomes a client.

Birth Mother Living Expenses

False Claim: ANLC attempted to pad the living expenses provided by one of our clients

Reality: Birth mother living expenses (BMLE) are a standard mechanism used to ensure the health and well-being of the birth mother during the adoption process. This usually includes food, rent, certain utility payments, and other necessities. They are usually pro-rated so that only the expenses incurred by the birth mother and not her entire family are covered. They are also usually required to be approved by a judge to verify the legality of any payments which is critical for avoiding fraud and baby trafficking. At ANLC, we provide as much support to the birth mother as is legally possible. In coordination with a prospective adoptive family, ANLC determines the support on the actual needs of the birth mother and according to the guidelines of her state.  ANLC documents and verifies the expectant mother’s expenses, on an ongoing basis. All anticipated expenses are communicated and solidified before an expectant mother moves forward with choosing a family. Adopting families are presented with these projected and approved expenses before moving forward in an adoption opportunity. Financial protection is provided to adopting families if an expectant mother chooses to parent.

Birth Mother Reimbursement

False Claim: ANLC threatens birth mothers with repayment of money if they change their mind

Reality: ANLC has not and will not tolerate ANLC employees who suggest a birth mother pays back the birth mother living expenses (BMLE) for changing her mind. The child is not legally placed with the adoptive family until a birth mother signs the appropriate adoption documentation. In some states there is even a cooling off period during which the birth mother may change her mind after signing, which is her right. However, if ANLC feels that the birth mother may be acting in a fraudulent manner, or engaging in multiple adoption opportunities with different entities or families, we will educate the birth mother on the realities of adoption fraud and its potential criminal repercussions.

Birth Mothers and CPS (Child Protective Services)

False Claim: ANLC threatens birth mothers with CPS involvement

Reality: ANLC has never, and will never coerce an expectant mother with a threat to call CPS. In some cases outside entities, such as hospital social workers, intervene when they suspect the option to parent is not legally viable for the expectant mother. Ethically, we believe that expectant mothers should be informed of their rights and the realities of each decision. Discussing CPS involvement is never done as a threat, but in an effort to help her make an informed decision for her child. ANLC supports any decision an expectant mother makes.

Birth Mother Relocation

False Claim: ANLC relocates birth mothers to make adoption easier for the client

Reality: ANLC is not aware of a birth mother relocating simply to make it easier to complete an adoption. If a birth mother wants to relocate for personal reasons (either because she wants to leave her state or if she is fleeing a bad situation), ANLC has honored and supported her request. The decision for an expectant mother to move is always 100% initiated by and is in the hands of the birth mother.

Adoption Opportunity Practices

False Claim: ANLC only makes opportunities that maximize revenue

Reality: Within the Time article it was suggested that ANLC optimizes income by only providing opportunities to those clients that would bring in new revenue. This is a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. ANLC has no official or unofficial guidelines mandating certain criteria for adoption opportunities based on anticipated income. ANLC strives to create the strongest adoption opportunity possible, considering the needs of the adoptive family and the birth mother without regard to how it impacts ANLC’s revenue. Making the strongest relationship possible works for everybody involved. The Adoption Network brand has lasted over 25 years because it is never so short-sighted to prioritize revenue ahead of a strong adoption opportunity.

Clarification on Non Disparaging Clause

False Claim: ANLC illegally silences adoptive family and birth mothers to protect its reputation

Reality: Unlike other domestic adoption entities, we do not bar either clients or birth mothers from voicing their opinion about their experiences as can be seen by our presence on Yelp and Google reviews. ANLC has many adoptive family and birth mother reviews while other entities are have none. Zero reviews from an established adoption entity could only be the result of the entity censoring past participants. Here is the complete section in context of why we ask our families to practice discretion when discussing their retention with us in public.

“Clients recognize that any outward negative reference to their ANLC experience can be counterproductive to their goal of being selected by a birth mother/birth parents. Clients understand that negative expressions, reviews, blogs or other comments on the internet, social media or other public forum about the adoption process could undermine the proactive efforts ANLC undertakes to achieve a successful adoption for its Clients. Clients agree not to talk negatively about ANLC’s efforts, service, positions, policies and employees with anyone, including potential birth parents, other adoption-related entities or on social media and other internet platforms.

*Underlined portion selectively edited for the article

As you can see the verbiage is designed to protect the adoptive family clients from sabotaging their own potential adoption experience out of frustration and not from protecting our reputation. Again, anybody can see ANLC’s reviews on Google and Yelp to determine that ANLC does not censor its past clients and/ or birth mothers. Furthermore, ANLC has a score indicating satisfaction with its services from both sides of the adoption journey.

Unregulated?

False Claim: Adoption throughout the United States is largely unregulated

Reality: It is true that there is little Federal oversight in adoption activity throughout the U.S. because Family Law matters are traditionally regulated by the individual states. ANLC is an Adoption Law Center, and is regulated and licensed by the State Bar of California. ANLC’s Chief Counsel, Lauren Lorber, spent much of her law career addressing the voids in Federal oversight of adoption laws and the need for Federal reform. She has authored publications in an effort to draw attention to these important issues. This has been both a professional and personal focus of hers. Lauren Lorber’s LinkedIn page contains a 28 page Law Review article published by Whittier Law School with input from Erwin Chemerinsky, founding Dean at University of California, Irvine School of Law and currently Dean of Berkeley Law at University of California, Berkeley. The article points out the current voids in Federal oversight of adoption laws and the need for Federal reform of adoption law. The full article is available here. One must wonder why Time would omit such a relevant history of ANLC’s Chief Counsel and only focus on singling out ANLC?

Parting Words

ANLC is confident that prospective birth mothers and adoptive families are able to look past what this Time article is: generated from decades old anecdotal experiences and testimony from one disgruntled former employee and three birth mothers (out of a pool of over 6000), a disparaging article expressing frustration within the domestic adoption community while attempting to punish one of the more transparent and regulated adoption entities. ANLC celebrates and supports birth mothers. We do the best job possible in promoting our adoptive family clients within the scope of the law.  Adoption Network Law Center (ANLC) will continue to practice in an ethical manner that honors each member of the triad.

Written by Lauren Lorber

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