Intercountry Adoption: Where Do I Start?: Finding an Adoption Services Provider

Finding an Adoption Services Provider

As of July 14, 2014, all agencies or persons providing any of the six specific intercountry adoption services defined in the accreditation regulations of the Intercountry Adoption Act must be accredited or approved to the standards set forth in the Convention regardless of whether the adoption will fall under the Convention or the orphan (non-Convention) process. An adoption service provider that is not accredited or approved may provide intercountry adoption services under the supervision of an accredited or approved provider or as an exempted provider. This is due to the implementation of the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA) (P.L. 112-276). (For more information about the UAA, visit

According to the Intercountry Adoption Act, adoption services include the following:

Identifying a child eligible for adoption and arranging an adoption

Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption

Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent and reporting on such a study

Making nonjudicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child

Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parents until final adoption

Assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement, when necessary because of a disruption before final adoption [22 CFR § 96.2] (1)

Adoption service providers also may prepare families for an intercountry adoption, but this is not listed as an adoption service by the Intercountry Adoption Act. To find an accredited and approved service provider, visit For a list of agencies denied accreditation, visit

Take time to research and carefully select your adoption services provider. Many have detailed websites that can provide valuable information for your search. An experienced, reputable adoption services provider should be willing to walk you through the adoption process, help you prepare to become adoptive parents (through educational classes on parenting and adoption issues or referrals to such programs), contact USCIS for you about immigration regulations and forms, help you handle problems along the way, and provide support after you bring your child home. Remember that the country from which you plan to adopt may help determine which adoption services provider you use.

Before deciding on a provider, attend information sessions or orientations and ask questions about the services provided. Reputable adoption providers will answer your questions openly, including those about costs. These initial sessions are usually free. Visiting several different providers may help you find the one that best meets your needs. You can also ask to speak to other adoptive families who used the provider’s services or check with your local Better Business Bureau.

To help you determine whether an adoption services provider is reputable, see the tips in Information Gateway’s How to Assess the Reputation of Licensed, Private Adoption Agencies (

Questions to ask adoption services providers:

By which State is the provider licensed? Is the license in good standing?

How long has the provider been involved in intercountry adoptions?

Has the provider ever been denied accreditation? Why?

In which countries does the provider have intercountry adoption programs? How long has it had programs in those countries?

How many children has the provider placed (both from the country of interest and overall)?

What are the provider’s minimum requirements for prospective parents?

Does the provider have overseas staff or use the services of facilitators or lawyers?

How do the provider’s contacts (such as staff, facilitators, or lawyers) that work in other countries identify children needing families? Do they travel regularly to the countries of origin?

What, if any, is the refund policy if an adoption does not occur or if the country closes to adoptions? Can they provide that policy in writing?

What services are provided after your child comes home? How long are they available?

Does the provider offer all adoption services? Which other organizations may be involved in providing some of these services in a specific case? (For example, if your adoption provider is only helping conduct your home study, ask which other providers may help identify a child for adoption, obtain the termination of the birth parents’ parental rights, or monitor the case until the adoption is finalized.)

Are there other families who have adopted a child with similar circumstances with whom you can talk?

What training or support does the provider offer to help parents prepare to adopt and then parent a child with special needs?

If birth family members are available, what supports does the provider offer to facilitate and support contact, either during the trip for adoption or after adoption?

What training or support does the provider offer to help parents prepare to adopt and then parent a child who is culturally or racially different?

Does the provider offer a written contract that outlines the services offered, fees, and expectations of the client and provider?

Does the provider provide any services in the unlikely event that the adoption is dissolved?

What happens if you change your mind and decide not to adopt?

How does the adoption service provider receive referrals (the packet of information about a potential adoptive child)?

Continue to Adopting a Child

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