There are several ways to choose a reputable adoption agency—one that will be great for you and suit your needs as well as the child’s.

One tip I offer you as a “don’t do”: Although my story eventually ended happily (and if you’ve read my adoption story, you know this already), I know this now from experience, and I wish I’d used common sense and known it then: In our excitement and impatience to become adoptive parents, we went to an informative seminar just to gather some preliminary information and just ended up going with the first agency we “landed on.”

Huge mistake.

Trust me—Don’t do it. By all means, return to the initial agency you find if, after thorough research and shopping around, you decide you’re a good match. But don’t automatically make your first stop your last out of your well-meaning enthusiasm and eagerness to become a wonderful adoptive home.

A simple way to find to begin to find a good agency is by word-of-mouth. If you don’t personally know any adoptive families, do some internet research, join some adoption chat rooms, and do some networking. However, be as selective and discriminating with this process as you would with anything else on the web. Also ask around your church (if you attend one) or maybe even inquire at local schools.

There are also various agency rating sites. You can search agencies and read reviews on Adoption.com. You may also want to check out www.adoptionagencyratings.com. However, there are plenty more sites out there, and many are situation-specific. For example, there are ratings/recommendation sites for domestic adoptions, international adoptions, infant adoptions, and more. A wealth of useful sites and tips for researching international adoption agencies specifically can be found at http://www.karensadoptionlinks.com/agency.html.

Attend a variety of agency seminars - Just don’t commit to a particular agency the same day!

Ask for references. Meet with adoptive families who have worked with the agency. Find out what they liked and what they didn’t like. Ask if there was anything they would change about their adoption experience or if they would use the agency again in the future.

Read review sites. And remember that one bad review does not mean an agency is a bad one any more than one good review means it’s a good one.

In sum, while you’re looking for an adoption agency, do your research, and look for patterns. Check the Better Business Bureau. When in doubt, keep looking until you find one that you are comfortable with. After all, this decision will affect the rest of your life and a child’s future. But as I have stressed in other articles, try not to stress (well, too much!) and enjoy the process by remembering the end goal.

If you’re ready to build your family through adoption, click here to connect with an adoption professional who can help get you started!