22 Questions to Ask Adoption Agencies Before Choosing

Hold out for an agency that fits the criteria that is important to you.

Maya Brown-Zimmerman January 12, 2016
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Choosing an agency is the most important first step in your journey to add to your family. Not everyone uses an agency, but if you plan to, you need to take your time to make sure that you’re working with one that is a good fit for you.

When we started our adoption journey, we didn’t interview agencies. We just chose the one our friends were working with. When, 15 months into our wait, the agency announced they were closing, I ended up interviewing almost all of the adoption agencies in our state over the course of the next week. I was bound and determined to not waste any more time! Here are the questions I asked.

Note: If you’re a super Type A like me, you might find it helpful to create a spreadsheet to better keep track of the responses. Keep in mind that these questions are for agencies that do domestic adoptions. 

Logistics:

  • What types of adoptions do you do? Does the agency only do domestic infant adoptions? Or adopting from foster care? Are most of the adoptions transracial adoptions?
  • What states do you do adoptions in? Do you operate only in our state, or multiple states? Or not in our state at all?
  • Do you do your own home studies or do we need to complete one first?
  • Do you do open adoptions? Closed?
  • Do you have a lawyer that you have your hopeful adoption parents (HAPs) work with? If so, are they AAAA certified?

Expectant/Birth Parent Services:

  • What services do you provide expectant women/parents?
  • What services are provided for birth parents post-placement?

Fees:

  • What is your total fee and what does it go towards? Are there potential extra fees we should be aware of?
  • Do you use a match fee, or just a placement fee?
  • If you use a match fee, is it refundable or does it roll over to another match?
  • How are expectant parent expenses handled? Are bills paid directly, or are they given a monthly stipend to use as needed? Do HAPs pay into a large pot of funds for the agency to use for expectant parents as the agency sees fit, or do you only pay for what the expectant parent(s) you’re matched with need?

Statistics:

  • How many hopeful adoptive couples are you working with at any given time?
  • How many placements did you have last year, and what is your average number of placements a year?
  • What is your “failed match” rate?
  • What is your average wait time?
  • How often do you do placements with families like mine (gay/lesbian, single parent, couples with biological kids, etc)?

Communication:

  • What type of education do you provide about open adoption to HAPs and expectant parents?
  • Is the same social worker working with the expectant parents as will be working with us? If so, how do you avoid conflicts of interest?
  • How do you present profiles to expectant parents?
  • What communication can we expect from you during the wait? Do you let HAPs know every time their profile is being shown, or only when an expectant parent wants to meet with them? Should we expect regular “check-ins” from our social worker?
  • What if we find our own match? How do you handle that (including if the match is in a state you don’t work in)? Is there a change in fees?
  • Is any support available for HAPs/APs before or after placement? For example, is there a Facebook group for agency families, a support group, annual picnic, or the ability to check in with our social worker for help navigating open adoption?

Be bold when asking questions. Scour review sites and ask those you know who have adopted for recommendations. Hold out for an agency that fits the criteria that is important to you.

Also, this isn’t a question, but some initial advice given to me that I found helpful. When you start looking at agencies, don’t read just the section of their website for HAPs. Also read anything meant for expectant parents. See if there are discrepancies between what is promised to HAPs vs expectant parents (for example: does the agency promise both parties control over the openness of the adoption?) This may give you additional questions to ask the agency, and insight into how they treat expectant and birth parents. 

Those of you who have adopted before, are there questions that I’ve missed? Sound off below!

If you’d like to connect with an adoption agency and start asking your questions, click here

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Maya Brown-Zimmerman

Maya Brown-Zimmerman is a mother of three, both biologically and through adoption. She has been blogging since before it was cool, and is passionate about everything from open and ethical adoption to special needs advocacy and patient-physician communication. In her spare time (ha!) she's on the board of directors for a medical nonprofit and enjoys medical and crime dramas. You can read more from her on her blog, Musings of a Marfan Mom.


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