It’s a bit unfortunate that such a big decision is your first one out of the gate in the marathon of an adoption. Which adoption agency will you use?
Each adoption is unique and there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. However, you can find the right agency for you, your family and adoptive child(ren) by doing the homework. Facebook, of all places, lends itself to a wealth of adoption communities. Joining these groups can help you find other family experiences with agencies and be helpful in the overall adoption process. Please remember that each family/child(ren) have different dynamics and that one person’s experience will not be indicative of your experience.
Whether domestic or international, there are a couple of basic questions that you should ask an agency right off the bat:
- Do you require a Statement of Faith?
- Will you allow adoption out of birth order (if that pertains to you)?
- What is the maximum number of family members that you allow in a single family home?
Agencies can help with domestic adoptions in both the avenues of working with birth mothers and through foster care. If you are looking to adopt a newborn and find a birth mother, the following list of questions will help you determine if they are a good fit, if through foster care- they would be the same except for a couple that do not apply:
- What states do you operate in?
- Do you do your own home studies or do we need to provide one first?
- Do you do open adoptions? Closed?
- What services do you provide to expectant women/parents?
- What services are provided to the adoptive parents post placement?
- What are your fees and what do they include?
- How many couples do you work with at any given time?
- How many placements did you have last year? What is your average number of placements per year?
- What is your “failed match” rate?
- What is your average wait time?
- How often do you do placements with families that are look like mine (single parent, couples with biological kids, gay/lesbian, etc.)?
List courtesy of adoption.com
If you are adopting internationally, the questions you would want to ask would be much different than if you are looking to adopt domestically. Here are some questions that that may be beneficial to you:
- Do you represent international adoptions?
- What countries are you licensed to work with?
- Are you licensed to work in my state?
- What is your success rate for each country that you work with?
- Have your documents/process ever been rejected in-country?
- What is the timeline for each country?
- What is the cost per child for each country? What does your fee schedule look like?
- What is the breakdown for what your costs include?
- What type of training is required during the process?
- What does your in-country support team look like and how accessible are they?
- How do you choose your in-country facilitator and do you have references for them?
- Does your agency help with accommodations, food and transportation in-country? (these are expenses that are “usually” not included in agency fees)
- What does your post-adoption support/experience look like? Ask them specifically about the child that you are adopting (teen, special needs, siblings, etc.)
- Does your agency offer counseling after adoption?
- Understanding that some countries have restrictions on the dynamics of the parental unit, do you as an agency have any restrictions? (examples like single parent, couples with biological children, gay/lesbian, etc.)
As with any major decision, it is very important to ask for references from each agency. It is also a good idea to email an agency directly and take note of their response time and the depth of the content/answers that are provided.
Please Note: If you are a family adopting after the international hosting experience, it is highly recommended to use the adoption agency that helped bring the children here for hosting. They already have an established relationship with the in-country facilitator that brought the child to America. They would best know the child’s in-country adoption status and family situation.