When you begin to look for adoption agencies, how do you know which agency is right for you? There is a great deal of variation between agencies: their services, their costs, and their philosophies about adoption. Here are a few things that you should consider when making your decision.
1. Know the differences in the types of adoption services available.
Many large adoption agencies don’t specialize in just one type of adoption. For instance, they may have a domestic adoption program (adopting a child born in the United States), a foster care program, and an international adoption program too. You should make sure the agency you choose is well versed in the type of adoption you want. Any agency that attempts to persuade you to choose another type of adoption may not have adequate resources in that area, or they may be attempting to fill gaps in their programs. Another thing to note is that not all agencies can provide services in all regions. Most international agencies complete adoptions in only certain countries, and many domestic adoption agencies cannot process out-of-state adoptions. This is important because you want an agency that can meet the needs of both birthparents and adoptive parents living in different areas.
2. Learn the difference between open and closed adoptions.
There are closed adoptions (situations where birthparents and adoptive families do not have any information about each other), semi-open adoptions (in which all communications between birthparents and adoptive parents go through the agency), and open adoptions (where everyone communicates openly, honestly, and freely without the agency’s intervention). As research on adoption has progressed over the years, it has become clear that open adoption is the healthiest form of adoption for everyone involved. Still, some agencies offer closed and semi-open adoptions as part of their program. If you have doubts about how or why open adoption works the way it does, contact an agency to get more information. There are many myths about open adoption that are easily dispelled, and a good adoption counselor can help you learn about this.
To find an agency committed to openness, be sure to ask questions regarding how communication between birthfamilies and adoptive families is handled. Birthparents wanting an open adoption should look for agencies that are comfortable with open adoption and do not have policies that limit their communications with their adoptive family.
3. Be aware of the policies of your potential adoption agency.
Many agencies have exclusionary policies that limit what types of families are able to adopt through the agency. For example, some place limits on who they will accept into their program based on age, religion, marital status, or sexual orientation. Equality is an important and traditional value. Make sure your agency reflects the same values you have.
Find out what the agency will charge for their services. The fee’s at some agencies can limit adoption to only the very wealthy, while others will offer a sliding-scale fee structure to make adoption available for more families. At the same time, make sure the agency you choose offers all the services you will need to complete your adoption. If there are drastic cost differences, make sure the cheaper option is not at the expense of full service.
4. Research the support and services offered by your potential agency.
Adoption is a big decision, and birthparents should be offered professional counseling to assist them throughout the adoption process. Make sure your potential agency offers counseling and support to the birthparents they work with.
Adoptive parents also need professional & caring staff to assist with the paper work, legal process, and emotions associated with adoption. A qualified counselor is paramount to the success of an adoption placement. Make sure to find someone who is knowledgeable, and can support you when you need to talk through a problem or question.