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How to Choose a Private Adoption Agency

Choosing a private adoption agency can be a challenging, time consuming task, but it is one of the most important decisions you'll make during the adoption process. Each agency has its own set of services, requirements, advantages and disadvantages that you must match with your expectations and needs. But with a little research, time, and effort, you'll ensure that the agency you choose will facilitate a smooth and successful adoption.

Spend at least a couple of months investigating adoption in general, local agencies, and your state's requirements so you are armed with knowledge when you begin your search.

To locate a private adoption agency in your area, you can either use the phone book or search online - visit the Child Welfare Gateway Website for a copy of the National Adoption Directory. To find a public agency, check the government section of the phone book - you'll probably find the listing under Department of Social Services or Department of Public Welfare.

The best way to find a good private agency, though, is through referrals from past clients. Ask other adoptive parents or find an adoption support group and ask the members which agency they used.

Once you've found several prospective agencies, contact your state licensing specialist to make sure they are all licensed, as well as the Better Business Bureau or your state's Attorney General to find out if they've had any complaints filed against them.

Visit and interview several adoption agencies before settling on one. This will help you become familiar with the process and you may find that one agency makes you feel particularly comfortable. If the prospective agencies offer an educational seminar or informational meeting that is open to the public, attend it and ask questions. Find out if the agencies provide a free consultation appointment, which will give you one-on-one time with a placement professional with whom you can discuss in detail their adoption services.

Questions to ask a prospective adoption agency:

  1. Do you have any restrictions on who can adopt a child, such as age, marital status, or income?
  2. Do you provide any training on the various types of adoptions you facilitate?
  3. Do you prepare adopting parents for the challenges of parenting a child of a different racial or cultural background?
  4. Has someone from your office visited the orphanage where the child(ren) are living? (If you are adopting internationally)
  5. Do you provide any training to parents adopting a child with special needs?
  6. What support services do you provide to the adoptive parents and birth parent(s)?
  7. What kind of support do you offer after the child is placed?
  8. What if I have post-placement problems? What are your policies and procedures?
  9. How will you help me/us to satisfy the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)? (If you are adopting a child from another state)
  10. How do you solicit and locate birth parents?
  11. How many children did you place last year?
  12. How many clients do you work with at any one time?
  13. How long did the average adoption take last year?
  14. How much does an average adoption cost?
  15. How long has this agency been in business?
  16. What is your policy when dealing with birth fathers?
  17. How do you acquire medical information about the child?
  18. Does the birth mother choose the adoptive parents?
  19. What is the ratio of birthmothers to prospective adoptive parents?
  20. What are your professional affiliations?
  21. Are all of the placing professionals licensed social workers? How many have their master's degrees in social work or a related field?

While you are interviewing each agency, ask if you can have a copy of their standard adoption contract and have your attorney look it over to make sure it's legitimate.

Beware of any agency that asks you to sign a fee agreement that doesn't allow you to cancel the agreement if the agency increases its fees, or any agency that requires you to pay their fee in total up front, or that promises you a child before they have performed a family assessment. Telling a client that the birth parents will surrender their baby before birth or not charging for the home study are also not standard practices and should be viewed with suspicion.

Don't be afraid to abandon one agency and enroll with another if you are dissatisfied with your original choice. Trust your instincts and if something doesn't feel right, take your business to another agency.

 


 

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