After an Arizona attorney, Paul D. Petersen, was arrested on accusations of paying pregnant women in the Marshall Islands to have their babies in Utah, questions have surfaced of how to determine if an agency or attorney is on the up-and-up.
Adoption expert Paula Thompson is appalled at some of the adoption practices going on, and said it gives adoption a bad reputation.
Thompson is the program coordinator for Children's Services Society, a nonprofit Utah adoption agency focused on resources for both birth and adoptive parents.
She said the difference between adoption providers varies from agency to agency, person to person, and attorney to attorney. Because of that, there are a number of things parents looking into adoption can do to determine if their agency is legal.
She told 2News:
A red flag would be if you ever see an agency offering cash to a birth parent or materialistic things like extra perks.
It's illegal in Utah to pay a birth parent to place their child up for adoption. Adoptive parents can only cover pregnancy-related costs.
"If you’re seeing an adoption that’s costing around upwards of $55,000 you should be concerned,” Thompson said.
She added that it is also concerning if agencies or attorneys are crossing state lines to adopt.
"There’s enough birth parents and there’s enough ethical practice in your own state that it is best practice to work with people in your state,” Thompson said.
The more transparent an agency, the better it is for the adoptive parents and child. Fees, deadlines, and filings should all be known and should be able to be broken down to the dollar. If a filing seems expensive, ask for reasons why.
Full pre-payment is another red flag — be especially concerned if you are paying tens of thousands to a state-side agency that has no reciprocal partner in the host country.
Finally, any agency that won’t allow you to talk to families that it has worked with (only providing written or posted testimonials) is an agency from which to run away.