The difference between a nonprofit adoption agency and a profit adoption agency is determined by their company mission, where the ownership lies, whom they benefit, and where their support goes.

According to, a charitable nonprofit will have “A mission that focuses on activities that benefit society and whose goal is not primarily for profit; public ownership where no person owns shares of the corporation or interests in its property; and an income that must never be distributed to any owners but is recycled back into the nonprofit corporation’s public benefit mission and activities…. Some nonprofits depend on membership fees and sales of specific services or products.  They all have IRS numbers starting with 501(c). Charitable nonprofits are designated as 501(c)(3) organizations, and there are about one million of them in the US…. The typical charitable nonprofit depends primarily on donations, grants, and mission-related earned income to fund its socially oriented activities. They are always public organizations and can be incorporated or exist as unincorporated nonprofit associations.” In the event that a nonprofit closes, any money left must be given to another nonprofit with the same mission.

In contrast, the goal of any profitable business is to benefit its owners and shareholders, who, in turn, can use the profits however they want. The rendered profit made from sales and services measures the success of the company. In the event of the for-profit business closing, its assets are sold and, if any remains, the money is distributed between the owners and shareholders.

Which brings us back to the original question, “What is the difference between nonprofit and for-profit adoption agencies?” Basically, there is not a huge difference in the operations of a nonprofit adoption and a for-profit adoption agency. Most assuredly, both nonprofit and for-profit agencies can and do make money. The difference is in how the money is obtained, the intended use of the money, and distribution of “profit.”

The organization gives an excellent list of five questions to ask when considering the difference between for-profit and nonprofit adoption agencies:

1.) Evaluate each agency on its merits.

2.) Does it treat expectant parents with respect and not pressure them into placement?

3.) Do they actively want to educate adoptive parents or do they treat it as a box that must be checked? 4.) Are they set up to facilitate and support open adoption, if that is an option you are considering?

5.) What is the cost, and how many families are they actively trying to match?

Virginia Spence and her husband Eric are parents to two awesome little boys who joined their family via domestic infant adoption. When she is not playing referee or engaged in tickle wars, Virginia can be found cleaning, reading, or drinking giant mugs of coffee. Virginia is passionate about advocating for life at all ages/stages and educating about adoption.