Using the term "free" with adoption may have a negative connotation for those who try to avoid any kind of language that makes adoption sound like a monetary exchange, but public agencies are sometimes referred to colloquially as free adoption agencies. To be politically correct, the terms public and foster adoption are preferred ways to communicate about these agencies.
Public agencies are state-run and not necessarily free but are among the cheapest adoption choices, making them appear free of fees in comparison to private agencies. Free adoption agencies may also be reimbursed up to $2,500 by state or federal subsidies, usually to cover the cost of a homestudy or health costs for a child with special needs.
Free adoption agencies place children within the state's foster care system and these children usually have special needs making them eligible for federal or state aid either pre- or post-placement, depending on how pre-placement negotiations are handled.
At risk of returning to the commercial connotation that "free adoption agency" has, there are certain services that aren't "paid for" when working with a free agency. Free adoption agencies tend to not provide counseling or other services that a private agency might. Free adoption agencies may also require a child to be fostered for a trial period of time to ensure that an older child is bonding with the family and that the post-placement lifestyle will be a successful integration.