Once the decision to adopt has been made, the next important step is choosing your adoption agency.
There are thousands of adoption agencies across the United States. As you begin your research, here are some important questions to ask the agencies you are considering.
- How long has the adoption agency been in business?
If an agency has been in business for twenty years, it doesnít mean they will provide better services than an agency that has been in business for two years. It may mean, however, that the more established agency could have more references for you to contact. Another factor to consider is the experience of people working at the adoption agency. A new agency may be staffed by people who have years of experience in adoption.
- Does the agency provide international adoption services? If so, how long has the agency worked with the programs in each country?
International adoption varies greatly in requirements, fees, travel timelines, ages of children available for adoption, just to name a few. Itís important that you have accurate information on any country you are considering adopting from, including any proposed laws that may affect the adoption process.
- Does the agency provide any workshops where you can learn more about their programs?
Many agencies provide monthly workshops where you can meet the staff, and learn about their programs. Some agencies also produce webinars, which are seminars on the Internet. This is a useful tool to learn more about the agency, especially if you live far away.
- Will the agency answer all of your questions without making you sign any type of agreement or ask for any money?
A good agency will be happy to talk with you at great lengths to help answer your questions, without asking for a dime.
- How many adoptions did the agency complete last year?
A newer adoption agency will obviously have completed fewer adoptions than a larger, more established agency. It doesnít mean that one is better than the other. However, it may make a difference if you are adopting internationally. For example, if one agency has an established program in the country youíd like to adopt from, and another agency has performed only a few adoptions from that country, it might be something to take into consideration.
- Is the adoption agency willing to provide you a list of references to contact?
References should be families who have completed an adoption with the agency, preferably within the last few years. Itís ok to talk with references from ten a years ago, however, agency employees, policies, and even adoption programs may have changed in that amount of time. This is why itís a good idea to talk with families who have recently completed adoptions with the agency.
- What types of post-placement services does the adoption agency provide?
This varies by agencies, but may include counseling for the adoptive and birth parents, help with adjustment issues, and assistance with follow up reports when required.
- What is the agencyís record with the better business bureau? Are there multiple complaints against the agency?
A few complaints over many years may not be a red flag, but multiple complaints year after year may be a cause for concern.
- Can you see a copy of the contract that you would be required to sign, should you choose to use that agency?
Not only should be able to see a copy of the contract, but you should take your time to read every line, and ask any questions before signing. If you donít understand some of the fine print, you can hire an adoption attorney to help review the contract. Itís not as expensive as you think, and it may end up saving you money down the road.