Choosing a good adoption agency can be one of the most important decisions you will make in the entire adoption process. How do you know which one is best?
Know Your Adoption Agency Choices
Since there are a variety of adoptions available to choose from, it only makes sense that you understand the differences between these adoptions. Before you can truly find a good agency, you need to decide on the type of adoption you are going to pursue. Types of adoptions can include the following:
- Domestic adoptions
- International adoptions
- Open adoptions
- Closed adoptions
- Private Adoptions
- Special needs adoptions
Narrow Your Adoption Agency Choices
Once you have decided on the type of adoption that you want to pursue, you should look for agencies that specialize in the particular adoption you want. In other words, if you are interested in adopting a child from China, you really don't need an adoption agency that primarily handles domestic adoptions. Educate yourself about each agency's specialized areas!
Find Success Stories
Obviously, adoption agencies will not give out references of unsatisifed adoptive parents. You need to find your own references to learn the true story about each adoption agency that you are interested in. Try to find area adoption support groups, find out their meeting schedules, and attend several of these. The people who attend these support groups can give you an insider's look on the various adoption agencies they used. You can find out the good and the bad, and you can also learn valuable information that will help you in your adoption journey.
Ask the Right Questions
Once you have narrowed down your adoption agency choices, it is time to ask some important questions. When you meet with a prospective agency for the first time, it might help if you take along a sheet with some, if not all, of the following questions as well as any other questions you might have.
- Can I see a copy of the state's licensing standards?
- What are your home study requirements?
- Can I have a detailed outline of your adoption process requirements?
- What training or support services to you offer prospective adoptive parents?
- Do you offer counseling for special needs adoptions and international adoptions?
- How long have you been a licensed agency?
- What kind of help and/or support do you provide after the adoption?
- What type of legal aid do you have?
- How many children have you placed with families?
- Can I have a copy of your fee schedule?
What About Money?
The agency you choose should be very clear and up-front about the fees they charge. You need to know exactly where your money is going, and how it is being used. Application fees and homestudy fees are standard. After that, however, fees can vary greatly. While some agencies require all money to be paid up-front, this is not considered very ethical.
Have a lawyer that is unaffiliated with the agency look over the adoption agreement before you sign it. You should have the option of cancelling the adoption if the agency continues to raise its fees. Agencies should be licensed, and the employees should hold professional degrees in social work or similar fields. Remember, if an agency sounds too good to be true, it may be. Do your homework before you sign anything or begin handing out money!