The search for a domestic infant adoption agency can feel daunting for hopeful adoptive parents. Each agency is different from the next, and it can be overwhelming wading through the sheer amount of information. Services offered, fee schedules, average wait times, requirements for families—these are just a few of the things you have to consider.
Your choice of adoption agency or other professional can be one of the hardest parts of your adoption journey. There is no formula to determine which agency is best for your family, but here are a few thoughts to help you get started choosing an amazing one:
1. Are they ethical?
As I have discussed before, domestic infant adoption is a process desperately in need of widespread reform. Hopeful adoptive families must do their research and act responsibly.
Unethical agencies and professionals exist and remain in business because adoptive families continue to give them their business. By choosing which agency (or agencies) we work with, we are “voting” for the way we want things to be. Do not settle for anything less than ethical from the agency you work with.
2. Do they provide high-quality pre-placement counseling and training?
Expectant parents (and after placement, birth parents) and future adoptive parents are entitled to quality support, counseling, and training both pre- and post-placement. If the agency is not equipped to provide this, then they should be able to refer you to someone who can.
A truly amazing adoption agency will not only be equipped to handle the adoption placement process itself, but should also be equipped to provide support to adoptive and birth families five, ten, or fifteen years down the road. Ask what sort of services they provide long term for families, and what sort of training they are able to recommend for hopeful adoptive parents on topics like transracial parenting and open adoption, among other things.
3. What is their philosophy on adoption?
Does this agency seem to be operating strictly like a business, with the primary goal of finding babies for families to make a profit? Or do you get the impression that they genuinely care about the well-being of the people they are serving—especially the most vulnerable ones, expectant/birth parents, and adoptees?
I recall an experience we had with the social worker at our adoption agency. This was a small, non-profit organization that provided counseling and support to mothers regardless of whether they chose to place or parent. Our now-son had been born days before, and we had signed all the placement paperwork—it was at this time that the agency’s total fee was due (a fee approximately one-fourth of the national average).
Our social worker gathered up the paperwork and said that we could leave her a check then, or wait—if we needed a little more time, it was fine. She cared more about our son and his birth mother than about getting paid, and that spoke volumes to me.
What sort of things are you looking for in an adoption agency? What do you think makes an agency amazing?