IAC Center is unique in that we provide adoption counseling but do not place children for adoption and are not affiliated with any agency or attorney.  Therefore we are able to offer pre-adoptive parents unbiased guidance, education, counseling and when necessary advocacy as they make life lasting decisions during all phases of the adoption process.

If you are undecided about adoption, family building options counseling may be the best place to start. But if you have decided to adopt, the Pre-Adoption Consultation is the first step toward developing an Adoption Plan that takes into account both your short and long term goals.

For Pre-adoptive couples and singles we offer:

Pre-Adoption Consultation – The pre-adoption consultation is set up to meet your individual needs. Some clients come to us ready to adopt and to develop their Adoption Plan. Others may be experiencing anxiety, ambivalence or partner disagreements and need guidance first to figure out their options. We start where you are at the time of your first visit.

Some things that may be addressed in a pre-adoption consultation include:

  • Clarification and Education – Instead of wasting hours on the Internet sifting through adoption information, or listening to marketing pitches from agencies and lawyers, our clients benefit from a time-saving explanation of all the adoption options available. We teach people how to avoid uneducated mistakes as they negotiate the adoption process.
  • Neutral Decision Making -Since the IAC Center is not affiliated with any agency or attorney; we can give an unbiased view of how to deal with the “business of adoption.” This allows our clients to determine what type of adoption is the right solution for them during this all-important research stage.
  • Grief Resolution – People often come to adoption following other losses and/or frustrations (infertility, inability to find a partner, medical or genetic issues inhibiting pregnancy). Sometimes a few sessions need to be devoted to dealing with these issues before the client is able to move forward in the direction of adoption or another family-building possibility.
  • Couple’s Issues – It is not unusual for partners to initially disagree on family-building options. Not knowing how to talk about these issues adds to relational and personal stress. Counseling may initially be difficult, but usually helps couples get back on the same page fairly quickly
  • Support for Singles -For singles desiring parenthood, working with an IAC Center counselor can help the process feel less solitary.
  • Support for LGBT Singles and Couples – For LGBT singles and couples desiring parenthood, working with an IAC Center counselor can help you reach your goals.

We recommend that you come to the pre-adoption planning consultation with an open mind and focus on what you really want. Try to avoid being influenced by media images of birthparents knocking on your door, or poor orphanage conditions in certain countries. If you pursue a legal adoption with a reputable source, you can almost always adopt the type of child your heart truly desires.

While developing your personalized adoption plan, you will learn:

    • How to adopt the type of child you desire.
    • How your age, health status or other factors affect your choices.
    • Whether you wish to pursue a domestic or international adoption.
    • If you choose international adoption, how do you choose a country from which to adopt?
    • If you choose domestic adoption, will an agency or attorney serve your purposes most effectively?
    • How to select an agency or attorney.
    • How to make the right decisions for your family mindful of the long-term implications.

Creating an Adoption Plan

Once the decision to adopt has been made, then the pre-adoption consultation shifts to the planning stage. We take you through a guided research process to help you build your Adoption Plan.

Guided Research: You will be provided with a customized list of agencies or attorneys that fit your criteria, and questions to ask that will help you to learn more about how they work. Once your research is completed, a follow up session is held to ascertain your reactions, to make sure you have asked the right questions for your needs, and to either provide you with more options or to help you decide which agency or attorney is the best fit for you.

The IAC Center’s approach to developing an adoption plan is unique thanks to years of experience with people pursuing all types of adoptions through varied agencies and attorneys; and current interaction with clients working with many different agencies and attorneys. We know the process and the agencies and attorneys, and can help you create the right plan for your short-term and long-term adoption goals.

Set parameters – Some agencies have a ‘checklist’ about the types of adoption situations that you think are right for you and your family. Even when there is no checklist, it is helpful for you to begin to think through and set the parameters about the adoption situations you would be comfortable accepting.

This often omitted step in the adoption process is extremely important to consider before you are presented with a real situation and feel under pressure to decide. Many people find that they need some time and counseling assistance to help them define their real comfort zone, and for couples to make sure they are on the same page with each other. You will also want to talk about this issue with the agencies and attorneys you are considering to see where they stand in relation to your particular concerns.

Build your team – In addition to your IAC Center Counselor that can provide a neutral review of any adoption situations you are considering, we also recommend that you select a pediatrician to review the medical aspects.


Options for home studies, adoption profiles, further learning and support while you are involved in the adoption process can be provided as well.

Profile AssistanceA pre-adoptive parent profile or what is sometimes called a “Dear Birthmother letter” is a letter and picture book that you create to introduce yourselves to an expectant woman or couple considering placing their baby for adoption.  It is designed to show them what the baby’s life would be like if they select you as the adoptive parents.

Many of our clients use a profile specialist – referred by us or by their adoption agency or attorney – and then rely on the IAC Center Counselor to review the profile for sensitivity to birth parent psychology, and to ensure that they are expressing who they are in pictures and in text in a way that gives the expectant parents real people to relate to.

Looking at the profile solely as a marketing tool is a big mistake. We have found that most prospective birth parents need someone to connect with, not just a Hallmark card type profile.


Some adoption agencies will accept these workshops as credit toward the home study requirements. Certificates will be issued upon request.

Current workshop offerings are on the EVENTS page. Contact for more information about any of these workshops.

  • Baby Care for Adoptive Parents
  • Understanding Open Adoption
  • Transracial Adoptive Families
  • Older Child Adoption
  • How To Talk To Kids About Adoption 

PRE-ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUPS -Offered in Pennington NJ, Montclair NJ & NYC

These groups for couples and singles seeking to adopt meet once a month. Our groups are professionally led. New groups form once existing groups are filled.

Members of our Pre-Adoptive Parent Support Groups discuss the emotional and practical issues related to initiating, waiting and succeeding with adoptions. The groups also give pre-adoptive parents time to think about parenting, something that oddly is often avoided during the waiting-to-adopt phase when so much emphasis is placed on getting the baby.

Each pre-adopt groups have five or 6 couples and/or singles, and typically continue until everyone has adopted their baby.   Notice the age range of these children:  

joni moms babies

Third Thursday of the month group circa 2009

There is absolutely no better way to go through the adoption process, especially the waiting phase than to join a pre-adoption support group. Plus you can make some friends for life that will be traveling a similar adoptive family journey.

Screenshot 2015-05-14 10.44.16

Same Group in 2014, Friends for life celebrating their annual thanksgiving

“There is absolutely no reason to go it alone. Research indicates that the best tool for building resilience to deal with adversity is to ‘Get connected’ with others. You may find your support within your relationship, with a friend, a counselor or a support group or each of these at different times.” Joni S. Mantell, LCSW



People come to pre-adoption counseling to:

  • Learn how to adopt
  • Deal with emotions
    • About becoming an adoptive parent
    • Process grief and other complex feelings
  • Come to decisions with your partner
  • Learn how to talk to friends and family about adoption
  • Prepare a sibling for the adoption
  • Learn how to communicate well with expectant parents before, during and after the adoption
  • Get help determining their comfort level with a potential adoption situation: IAC Center counselors will review the information you receive about potential adoption situations, identify issues and help you to frame questions to gather more information from your agency or attorney. Since are not invested in whether you accept a situation our only goal is to help you to determine whether a situation is right for you.
  • Plan and get help negotiating formal and less formal Post-Adoption Open Adoption Agreements (PACA’s). See Open Adoption Consultations.
  • Make adoption situations under pressure.

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