You may have read many articles on how to choose an agency, but I thought I would add our experience. We adopted from two different agencies. The first agency was recommended by a friend. The second agency we found through the internet, by word-of-mouth, and by doing research. You will be working side-by-side with these agencies for a while, so I think it’s important to spend time finding the right one.
Choosing an agency is very overwhelming. Here is a check list that may help you along the way:
1. One of the first questions I ask the agency is how do they plan to take care of the birth mother? Do they provide counseling before and especially after placement? Do they provide financial help and how much? I don’t want the birth mother to place her child and then be forgotten.
2. Are they currently taking applications?
3. How many babies have they placed within the year? This will give you an idea of how long you might have to wait for a child.
4. How many families are currently waiting?
5. What kind of adoptions do they do? Open, semi, closed? Some agencies only do open adoptions. How many visits per year with the birth family do you require? How are these meetings arranged? At the office? With a counselor present?
6. What kind of counseling do they provide for us as a family before, after, and during the process?
7. What kind of criteria do they have for the birth mothers? What kind of testing of drugs/alcohol do they do? How often?
8. Will we be able to see all medical records before placement? Will we be able to go to any of the doctor appointments? Will we be able to go in during labor or delivery? This is usually up to the birth mother.
9. How long has the agency been open? I recommend going with an agency that has been open for 10+ years. These agencies typically have a lot of experience and are organized.
10. If you want to use a local agency I would use a popular internet search engine to find surrounding agencies and then look at all the reviews. I would then check to see if they have any complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
11. Once you have found a couple of agencies you are interested in, give them a call. Just talking to them helped me to decide if I liked them or not. It is important that they take the time to answer all your questions and not rush you. Ask them to send you an information packet. Most agencies will have these and they will answer many of your questions. Especially about all the costs. Some agencies have you pay one lump sum and others offer payment plans.
12. Ask if they provide financial assistance or know any organizations that do.
I know this is a lot of information and it is very overwhelming. Eventually, it will get easier and less intimidating. Choosing an agency is a very personal decision and you have to make sure it is right for your family. Hopefully this check list will get you started. Good luck!