Adoption Agencies Near Me
By: Kristin Anderson
When beginning your adoption journey, heavy research is required. First and foremost is what kind of adoption you’re looking for. Before asking, “Where can I find adoption agencies near me?” make sure that you aren’t ruling out international adoption or a nationwide search. Adopting locally has some tremendous benefits, though. We adopted locally and are in the process a second time. It all depends on your preferences. Keep in mind, though, that your preferences may change during your search. Change is okay and very common when looking at adoption. Let your plans be more of guidelines than rules.
I only knew of a couple of adoption agencies near me when we started our research. It turned out that one of those had everything we were looking for in an agency, so we didn’t look out of state. We ruled out international adoption due to the higher cost and potential older age of the child. Adoption agencies also tend to be nearest large cities, so if you’re out in a rural area, you may be driving quite a bit to reach one. The agency we chose was 15 minutes away from us. For our son’s birth mother, her drive was about 40 minutes. Local agencies are great because nobody’s getting on a plane for visits, and paperwork can be dropped off in person. The fact that our son’s birth family is only a half-hour away is such a benefit. Visits are easier to plan and can be planned at the last minute sometimes.
Some families don’t mind using an adoption agency out of state. We may if our second adoption doesn’t work out (if the expectant mom changes her mind). Factors to consider for this type of adoption are extra costs of hotel stays and travel time. You may be spending two weeks in a different state before you can bring the baby home. Another huge consideration is the open adoption relationship. Are you comfortable with having the birth mother so far away? Is it going to hurt your wallet too much to make those promised visits with her? Are you going to expect that her travel to you and pay those costs? For some families, this isn’t an issue, but for others, it’s a question of practicality and being able to keep your promises. With today’s technology, out-of-state adoption is totally doable. You can Skype or Facetime or text with the birth mother. Just keep in mind that those in-person visits may require extra money and planning. Make sure you can deliver on your contract agreement. Not only can it be legally enforceable, but your attitude going into the adoption should be that you’re going to have a positive relationship with the birth mother, and you want to honor the contract agreement.
When I did a Google search of adoption agencies near me, quite a lot popped up. Remember though, not all agencies are created equal, and some are only facilitators on the search results; they are not full agencies. You can Google to get a list, but you’ll need to call and investigate their websites as well to get the full picture. You can also call any crisis pregnancy centers and ask which adoption agencies they typically refer their clients to. In our first adoption, our son’s birth mom was referred to our agency by another counselor. She didn’t sit down and search for “adoption agencies near me.” We are currently pursuing a second adoption, and the same thing happened there: she was referred to our agency by a maternity center. Some expectant moms do look online, though. They can look for agencies or they can look directly for a family. Sites like Adoption.com’s Parent Profiles allow for expectant moms and hopeful adoptive families to connect and then make their own adoption plan by hiring an agency or a lawyer to take it from there. This is called a “self-match.” Other sites exist for this purpose, too, as well as countless Facebook pages set up by adoptive families to find their expectant mom match.
Adoptive parents sometimes get caught up in everything and forget to ask about the birth family’s experience as well. Don’t forget what a big role this expectant mom will have in your life and how important her care is. In today’s climate of open adoption, she will be in your life from now on. You want a good relationship. When you view agency websites and speak to them in person or on the phone, do they speak about birth mothers and birth families with respect? Do they make subtle comments that might suggest otherwise? You want to find an agency that cares just as much about birth mothers as they do about adoptive mothers. If your agency presents birth mothers with adoption information as well as parenting information so that they can make the best choice for themselves and their baby, that is a good agency. An agency should not coerce, but they should be there on her journey.
Another important step is to take to social media. Check the agency’s Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Those usually contain reviews. You can also see how engaged the adoption agency is with its community. You could also search on Facebook for adoptive parent groups in your area. Another suggestion would be to do a post on your personal page asking anyone with adoption experience to message you or comment. You’ll tend to get much more “insider” information from those that have done this process before you. They may answer questions you didn’t even know you had.
You can find a state directory of agencies on Adoption.com. This is a great resource, but it is not exhaustive. Additionally, Adoption.com also has adoption guides for each state to give you a more detailed process of how adoption works state by state.
I’d highly recommend making an Excel spreadsheet to keep things organized. I made one for our second adoption and listed all the adoption agencies near me as well as ones out of state. I put a column for wait time, cost, cost of a failed match, adoptions are done per year, whether they honor gender preference, and any red flags or other notes. Later, if someone else you know is looking into adoption, this is a great resource for them. Just send them your spreadsheet, and it will save them tons of time. Just keep things updated as laws tend to change. In international adoption, for instance, there have been countries that just completely shut their adoption program down.
If you’re interested in the foster care system, which has significantly lower costs, you may be matched with an older child. Foster care aims to keep the child in a safe place and attempt reunification with the birth family. While you are fostering a child, if reunification with the birth family is deemed not possible, then that child will become available for adoption, and you can become their forever family. This timeline will vary but can be put in the “year or two” range. There are also children already legally free for adoption. This means they will not be reunified with their birth family and can be adopted right now. Within your state, you would need to contact the social services of your specific county. You can also check out Adoption.com’s photolisting page for waiting children.
While you can research to your heart’s content, it’s important to note that there will always be unknowns and aspects you cannot control. No matter which agency you choose, you are working with other people. People are complex. They can make mistakes. Agencies may make errors you have to fix. Expectant mothers can change their minds about placing the baby for adoption. Entering the adoption world means riding a roller coaster of unknowns. There will be bumps and turns. You have to stay committed and stay on top of your required paperwork. Advocate for yourself. Have the courage to leave an adoption agency if they aren’t showing enough birth mother support or have the courage to stay with an agency you believe in, even if it means a longer wait time.
The variance in people’s adoption experience is big. There have been couples who were informed of a baby waiting for them at the hospital within days of being a waiting family. Others have waited for three, four, five, six years for a match; it just depends. You don’t know which family you’ll be. When you start, it’s best to have no expectations. There’s no formula for a perfect adoption. It takes patience, the ability to stay calm under pressure, and a softening of your heart. The search for the best agency for you is time-consuming but will be worth it. Between Google, social media sites, and just “word of mouth,” you will find yours. There really is something out there for every family and situation. Keep your mind and heart open.
Adoption Agencies Near Me
By: Catherine Spivey
After deciding adoption is the right choice for your unborn child, the next most important decision is which agency you select to facilitate the path to adoption. Google can be your best friend when delving into extensive research on adoption agencies, their goals, and their missions. However, speaking to an agency representative or actually meeting face-to-face can also give you a good feeling of whether their agency will be the perfect fit.
This journey is very emotional and not easy, but choosing an agency doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. Before beginning, Adoption.com has a helpful guide and an outline of questions you may consider previewing before interviewing different agencies. Another wonderful way to make this decision would be to make a list of what you consider important when choosing an agency.
How close is too close for you? Do you prefer being out of state or right next door to the adoption agency that will be helping you through this important process of placing your child for adoption? One of the easiest ways to begin is by simply conducting an online search of “adoption agencies near me.” Depending on your location, there may be plenty of local options. Or, out-of-state may be your only option. Outside of a normal search engine, Adoption.com and Adoption.org have a wonderful local search tool that allows you to browse agencies in your state.
Whether you live in the same state as the adoptive parents will all be up to you, and you will make the final decision. Having your birth child and the adoptive parents close by might provide the comfort you desire as years pass on and your child grows up. On the other hand, you may want more distance between you and the adoptive parents, maintaining openness with a set amount of personal space. Some states have quicker adoption timelines and prove more beneficial for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents when setting up an adoption plan.
When pregnant, having close proximity to the adoption agency you are working with might help bring comfort in an already uncertain time and is definitely something to consider. If you lack personal support or don’t feel comfortable sharing your plans with others, your adoption agency can act as your safety net, encouraging, guiding, and helping you along the way.
When searching “adoption agencies near me,” remember you will also want to consider the agency’s history of work with other expectant mothers and adoptive couples. The best way to get an overall sense of the agency would be to find reviews. Sometimes reviews are in easy-to-spot places on default search engine tools, but you may need to dig a little deeper. The agency’s social media pages are a good place to start (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, etc.). These media pages will provide additional insight to their level of professionalism, their compassion and dedication to birth mothers, and their adoption process, according to the experiences others had with them.
When initially interviewing an adoption agency, you may request to contact prior birth mothers and adoptive parents the agency has worked with (upon their consent). This will help give you a first-hand account of what others’ experience was like at the agency. The adoption agency may not be able to make other birth mothers’ contact information, available to you, but it never hurts to ask. Alternatively, some agencies provide additional references/reviews from prior birth mothers and adoptive parents. It is not uncommon to request references from adoption agencies.
An additional step you can take in order to ensure the adoption agency you are choosing is a reputable and licensed establishment is checking with the State Licensing Specialist in the state where the agency is located. They will be able to determine if the agency is in good standing with the state, if there have been any complaints, and how long the agency has held its license. Reaching out to the State Attorney General’s office in the state where the agency is located would also help determine if there has been any legal action taken against the agency for some reason.
Although these things may not seem to be on the top of a birth mother’s list of questions, it is important to work with an adoption agency that is reputable and not participating in substandard business practices. The last thing you want when pregnant and placing your child for adoption is to work with an agency that isn’t licensed and able to safely see you through to birth and surrender. Thoroughly checking backgrounds will help prevent any possible issues down the road.
Remember, each adoption agency is different. Some companies are only facilitators or consultants, which actually aren’t agencies at all. An adoption agency is a licensed business that places children in adoptive homes, is staffed by trained professionals, and is regulated by the state. They can provide an extensive range of services, pre- and post-placement, such as preparing home studies, matching birth mothers with an adoptive family, providing counseling, and offering additional support for expectant mothers. Many times, they even provide or set up counseling for adoptees and adoptive parents.
As for adoption facilitators, they are a middleman, connecting hopeful adoptive parents with expectant mothers. In many states, these facilitators are not licensed, are unregulated, and are even illegal depending on the state; there are some laws that ban adoption facilitators. These intermediaries offer little more than matchmaking between expectant mothers and adoptive families.
Adoption consultants are companies that educate their clients and assist them through the adoption process. They typically work with many agencies and attorneys, referring clients to them. In turn, they share their expertise in the adoption field to help their clients sort through profiles, manage the home study process, receive constructive feedback, and feel emotionally supported along the way. They are not lawyers, they aren’t attached to any agencies, they are not regulated or licensed, and they are not professionally trained to work with birth mothers. They are simply advisors and networkers. Knowing the difference between adoption agencies, adoption facilitators, and adoption consultants will help in your search for “adoption agencies near me”.
As a birth mother, you will want to choose an adoption agency that contains everything you need under one umbrella. They will be able to provide counseling, connect you to a large portfolio of waiting adoptive parents, facilitate financial assistance for expenses needed throughout pregnancy, walk through each step of surrendering parental rights, and do all this with a gentle demeanor and kind heart. Having a good connection with your adoption agency and its representatives is very important for your pregnancy. The less stress, the better for you and for your baby.
Birth Mother Services Available
After beginning your research of “adoption agencies near me”, you may start to see the options available for expectant mothers. At the start of your adoption plan for your baby, it is imperative that you have proper pregnancy counseling. Even throughout the pregnancy and especially towards the end of your pregnancy and after, you will want counseling available. Finding out what type of counseling is offered, how often, and with whom is something to look into when choosing the right adoption agency. One necessity would be counseling post-birth and post-placement, allowing you the option to address your emotional and mental state after such a big life decision.
Depending on how far along you are, you may still have many sonograms, blood tests, and doctor visits ahead of you before giving birth. Does the agency provide emotional support for these visits, or do they not have enough team members to send a companion with you to each visit? What is the typical protocol if you would like the adoptive parents to be a part of the baby’s prenatal development? Throughout the pregnancy, there may be financial assistance needed to cover housing, clothing, food, other daily expenses, etc. What programs and assistance are provided to help you on your journey? Asking these important questions beforehand will help ease any stress and anxiety about getting through the months of pregnancy.
Keep in mind, each state has different limits on the number of funds an adoptive family may provide to a birth mother. Which state you are in may dictate what is covered and what is not covered during your pregnancy and postpartum period. The adoption agency will be able to explain what is allowed in your state and provide further details on how they intend to specifically meet your needs during this time.
Morals and Values
When choosing the right fit for your baby, the morals and values of the adoption agency you choose need to be considered. Many agencies charge a different set of fees to adoptive parents depending on the race of the child. Is that something that aligns with your moral compass and set values?
Open or Closed Adoption
Most adoption agencies are focused on open adoptions, but what if you are desiring a closed adoption? Will the agency support your decision for a closed adoption, or do they only facilitate open adoptions. Making sure the adoption agency can be in line with your desires for your and your baby’s future is strongly recommended.
When pursuing a closed adoption, usually the adoption agency will still hold the personal information of the birth mother in the event the adoptee wants biological information later on in his or her life. Should the adoption agency shut down in the interim, would there be an alternative option available for your personal information to be shared with the child later on in his or her life?
Choosing the Adoptive Family
Another topic to discuss is the process of choosing an adoptive family for your baby. If you’re curious what exactly an adoptive parent goes through before their profile is presented to you as an expectant birth mother, check out this article. It details exactly what is included in the home study process, how many background checks are required, etc. There is a lot that goes into preparing to adopt, and while each state’s requirements are different, there are certain basic standards expected across the board.
There are questions to consider about the role the adoption agency will play between you and the adoptive family. Although adoption agencies are typically able to provide a large number of adoptive parent profiles, what if you already have your family of choice? Would the agency help facilitate all the particulars, or do they have restrictions against you choosing a family from outside the agency? Once the adoptive family is chosen, what part in the meet-and-greets and social interaction with the adoptive family is the adoption agency also a part of? Getting a detailed overview of what the agency will and will not facilitate during the pregnancy and adoption plan will help you narrow down the agencies you want to choose from.
Most importantly, when making the decision to place your child for adoption and walking through the final months of pregnancy, you want to make sure the adoption agency you choose gives you the feeling that you are part of their family. If all the other boxes are checked, feeling as if you are in good hands and have the support you need is always the number one on the list. Sometimes a gut feeling is all you need. Whether you have lots of support or no support in your personal life, having an agency that is on your side will give you the comfort you need during this emotional journey.
Remember you are never alone and there are many resources available to provide you with immeasurable support during this time. The birth mother forums available on Adoption.com will connect you with other women that either are or have been in your shoes, ready to encourage and stand beside you in a virtual forum. There is a wide spectrum of forums, from unplanned pregnancy and general birth parent support, to birth family support. There is power in sharing your journey with someone else. So don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, and don’t be afraid to be bold. As the hard questions, and trust your gut as you make your decisions. You’ll do what’s best for you and your baby.