Overview

Social workers who specialize in adoption, which is the process of placing children who have been legally separated from their birth parents with a new family, work in adoption agencies or government organizations. They facilitate domestic or international adoptions and understand the legal requirements for each case they handle. All states mandate licensing for social workers, but requirements vary. They generally must have a bachelor's or master's degree in social work and clinical experience.

What You Can Earn

The BLS predicted that employment of child, family and school social workers would increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024. This may be due to the growing need for social workers that help place children in foster care with an adoptive family and investigate child abuse. The BLS also noted that job openings could develop from social workers leaving the field. Child, family and school social workers earned a median salary of $42,350 in May 2015, reported the BLS.

 What You Can Charge

 $200,000–$600,000+

How Much Is It Going to Cost

$5,000–$125,000

What Equipment You Need

Office furniture, phone, computers with Internet access, letterhead

Who Will You Need to Hire

Yes—will need at least one licensed social worker to do home studies and possibly a team of folks to handle and review adoption paperwork

How You Can Make It Sweeter

 What You Will Be Doing

For some, the dream of having a child in their family would never be realized without the services of a qualified adoption agency. You can specialize in private, local adoptions or include international adoptions from a list of specific countries from which you’ve received permission to help place children in need of homes. Whether the child is from China, Korea, India, Russia, or your home state here in the United States, you will have to scrutinize potential parents through the required home study process, match them with children who are the best fit, then offer counseling and support as the parents and child are united. You can also help children born with special needs find the good homes they so deserve. This is a business in which the blessings far exceed any financial benefits. Many adoption agencies carry high overhead, so what seems like a fortune in potential earnings can actually be offset a bit by the costs of staffing and running a busy agency. Still, there are plenty of good reasons to choose this line of work, such as the more than four million children currently residing in orphanages worldwide.

An adoption social worker is responsible for supporting both the birth and adoptive families during the adoption process. They may perform or assist with home studies, parent background checks, parent counseling and the post-placement process.

To ensure a stable adoptive match, social workers may evaluate the home life and background of potential adoptive families, work with birth families to establish their level of involvement and assess the specific needs of the adopted child. Social workers with experience in adoption cases may also work on research, policy development and client advocacy.

Adoption social workers may work for government agencies or adoption agencies and can be involved with international adoptions of children from other countries, or facilitating the adoption of local children who are in the care of the government. They screen potential families and provide counseling through the process to try to ensure children who are adopted become part of a stable, loving family.

What Qualifications You Need

All states require some sort of licensure, though exact requirements will vary by state. This can include completing a bachelor's or master's degree program in social work with coursework in related areas, such as research methods, human behavior, social welfare policy and family culture. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also noted licensure requirements in most states include two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Social workers generally need patience and a willingness to help others, as well as the ability to maintain good communication with multiple contacts.

Who You Should Market To

How You Can Market This

Local family publications, adoption magazines, Web site with photo-listing of Waiting Children and plenty of adoption resources, banner ads on related Web sites of interest, registration with search engines, referrals

What Other Services to Offer

What You Need to Succeed

Reputation is everything in this business. You need to be honest and up front with your clients about all costs so that they don’t feel you are taking advantage of their emotional distress over not having a child. Keep posting new testimonials on your Web site as you receive them —and don’t be afraid to ask for more. Better yet, create a database of satisfied parents you’ve helped and who are willing to speak to your prospects about how wonderful you are. Such a list is worth its weight in gold!

Resources

Where to Begin

 

Books/Magazines/Periodicals

 
 

Education/Courses/Training/Videos

 
 

Social Media

Blogs/Forums

Facebook

 Twitter

Websites

 

Words to Know