choosing an adoption agency
When you are considering adoption, the wide variety of options can seem overwhelming. You will have numerous choices to make, so information is the key ingredient. Talk to others
Members of adoptive parent groups are full of information about adoption and can often tell you about specific agencies in your area that work well with adoptive families. →Attend orientation meetings and information classesInterview public and private agencies. Your state's adoption consultant should be able to send you a list of licensed adoption agencies or you may access this information here.
The following questions may help you determine with whom you wish to work. Is the agency a non-profit or a for-profit corporation?What types of children does the agency place?
Children from foster care?
Children from other countries?
Agencies that place more than one of these types of children or children from different countries will refer to their different "programs".
How many children did the agency place last year?
How many were placed from the specific program you're interested in?
What are the agency's general requirements about the types of parents they work with?
Age of adoptive parents?
Single or nontraditional families?
Marital history? Length of marriage?
Number of children already in the family?
Do these requirements vary depending on what type of child I/we plan to adopt?
Requirements for adopting an infant are generally more restrictive than those for adopting a child from foster care.
How much will it cost to complete an adoption?
Are there sliding fees scales?
When will payments be required?
We recommend that you pay for services as you receive them, rather than paying the total cost up front.
Adoptions of waiting children through public social services agencies are often free. If fees are charged, they may be reimbursed when a child from that agency is placed with you.
Fees for private infant adoptions range from $5,000 - $40,000. International adoptions are generally in the same range.
Be sure to ask for a fee schedule so you know before you begin exactly what costs are covered in the adoption fee and what costs may be added on later, such as legal fees, the birth mother's and/or infant's medical expenses, expenses for travel to visit a waiting child in another state or to bring a child home from another country.
→Click here to learn more about Adoption Assistance.
How long will it take to complete an adoption?
Each adoption is unique. However, ask about the average length of time families wait between applying to adopt and beginning the family assessment.
Ask how long a wait to expect between completion of the assessment and having a child placed in your home.
What steps are required in the process?
Although each agency's procedures vary and there are different requirements for infant, waiting children and
international adoption, you can expect to complete some or all of the following:
1. Initial Interview
2. Application form
3. Adoption preparation classes
4. Family assessment (also called adoption homestudy)
When will the agency notify me/us of my/our approval for placement?
Can we see a copy of our family assessment/homestudy?
If we are not approved, can we find out why?
Do you have a grievance process?
What steps will the agency take to help identify the right child for my family?
What can or must we do to help find a child?
Will the agency study me/us for both in-state and out-of-state children?
You need to ask them at what point in time they will consider helping you adopt a child from another county or state if they have not placed a child in your home.
Most public agencies placing children from foster care are primarily concerned about placing the children in their custody. As an adoptive family, they see you as a resource for their children.
Most private agencies that help families adopt waiting children will help you adopt from your state or another state.
Most private agencies placing newborns will be facilitating a match between you and one of the birth mothers they are working with.
In an infant adoption, do the birth parents select the adoptive parents for their child?
Are the birth parents and adoptive parents able to decide how much communication they want before and after the child is placed; that is, how open an adoption do they want?
Does the agency have a web site of waiting children in their state and from other states or exchanges that you can look at?
→Click here to view our Children's GalleryIs adoption subsidy available to help cover the costs of the child's medical or emotional problems?
Do not finalize an adoption of a child from foster care until you have a subsidy agreement in writing from the child's agency! →Click here to learn more about Adoption Subsidies
In an international adoption, once we accept a child, how long will it be before the child can travel to the US?
Is the adopting family required to travel to bring the child home?
How long will one or both parents need to stay in the child's country?
Are all foreign agencies and attorneys working with the agency licensed or recognized in their own countries?
What happens if I/we don't feel I/we can accept the child the agency has offered me/us?
What kind of support services does the agency offer before, during and after placing the child?
What services are offered to the adoptive family; to the birth parents?
Do you offer counseling or support groups?
Are services available after the adoption is finalized?
What if the adoption doesn't work out?
Will I/we be considered for another child?
.Is it possible to talk to families who have adopted through the agency or through the specific program we're interested in?Most agencies will give you names of families who were happy with their adoption experience. Most states maintain complaint files for licensed agencies at the Department of Human Services licensing office. Again, parent support groups are often excellent resources for evaluations of local agencies.
Choose your agency on the basis of their programs and your feelings of comfort and trust in them. After your choice is made, get to know your agency! Get on their newsletter mailing list if they have one. Try to attend some of their functions such as picnics, fundraisers and classes. Get to know the staff; in turn, they will feel increasingly more familiar with you. If you have the time, many agencies would appreciate some volunteer help with their various activities such as assisting at a fundraiser or answering the phones for a few hours per week.