International Adoption Agency
International adoption is a complex procedure best done through a licensed international adoption agency. It is possible to have an independent (non-agency) international adoption, but the risks associated with it are very high. You could end up being pulled into the black market, receiving incomplete or flawed legal processing, or being the victim of fraud. In the worst-case scenario, the child you already love might not meet the legal definition of an orphan and might not be permitted to come to the United States.
It is also possible to use an adoption facilitator - a person or organization that assists prospective adoptive parents and/or an international adoption agency in finding adoptable children. Depending on where it does business, not all facilitators are required to have a license.
An international adoption agency will be licensed by the state in which it is based.. While licensing itself is not a guarantee of quality, it does assure you that basic standards of competency have been met. Some agencies take the extra step of becoming accredited through the Council on Accreditation. This process certifies that the agency operates at a high level of competence in areas such as management, finances, client service, and effective and ethical international adoption practice.
When choosing an international adoption agency, there are a few preliminary steps that are always wise to follow. Contact your state's Licensing Specialist (found through the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/) to ensure the license is current . The Specialist can tell you if the agency is in good standing, how long they have been licensed, and if there are any complaints against the agency. Check also with the Better Business Bureau closest to the agency. If that office does not take complaints on adoption agencies (some don't), then go to the Consumer Protection Office in the agency's state to check for complaints. You can also gain helpful information by joining an adoptive parent support group to get first-hand information on international adoption agencies.
When choosing your international adoption agency, always ask for references - at least three. Ask for references from both recent adoptive parents and those whose adoptions were completed at least three years ago, so you can ask about post-adoption services. You can find other recommendations and suggested questions from the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/alerts/article.asp?ID=276.