When my husband and I decided that adoption would be our path to growing our family, we were really excited! We finally had a plan that was pretty much guaranteed to lead us to our little one!
Choosing an adoption agency is serious business, because they are the people that will unite you with your baby! There are so many agencies! It is difficult to know where to start.
I started by gathering a list of agencies that I found online, through references from friends, and other recommendations from our home study agency. Then, I got out my trusty adoption notebook, called them all, asked each agency the same questions, and took notes on our conversations.
Remember that adoption isn’t a perfect science, so agencies might not be able to answer the below questions perfectly. The work they do is dependent on birth-moms following through with their adoption plans. However, experienced agencies should be able to answer your questions enough to make you comfortable!
The Top 10 Questions to ask your Potential Adoption Agency:
- How many families are currently on your wait-list? Some agencies close their wait-lists when they have a certain number of families waiting (For example, our agency will stop accepting families for their wait-list when they have 25 families waiting).
- On average, how long do people wait on your list before receiving a placement? While our agency can’t tell us for certain how long it will take, they say generally between 18-24 months. We were only on the wait-list 6 months the first time around!
- On average, how many placements do you do a year? How many have you done so far this year?
- About how many birthmothers are you currently working with? How often do your birthmothers follow through with an adoption plan? These will likely be tough questions for the agency to answer, because they are so dependent on the individual birthmoms’ decisions. However, I still recommend asking, because it can be very telling how an agency talks about their birthmoms!
- How are matches made? For example, do birthmothers select the family? Does the agency go right down their wait-list in order? Do they show the top 3-5 portfolios at a time?
- How much is your application fee? What are the total fees? Are there any other fees not included in that total (potential birthmother fees, additional lawyer fees, etc.)? The agency should be able to send you a fee schedule that explains the break-out of the fees.
- When are the fees due? Many agencies only ask for the application fee up front, so they can open your file. Then you pay the remainder when a successful match is made. However, some agencies ask for part or the entire fee up front.
- What are the state adoption laws? You’ll want to do some research on state adoption laws up front, but it’s also good to have this conversation with the agency. How long does a birthmother have before she can legally change her mind? How are birthfathers handled?
- What type of portfolio and/or birthparent letter will I have to write? Every agency handles this a little differently. The agency we used asked us to write a 3-4 page letter to the birthmom about ourselves and to include a photo. Some agencies ask you to put together a photo portfolio of your life and then send them one or multiple copies. Some people do these by hand like a scrapbook or use a service like Shutterfly to put together a photo book.
- What type of “openness” is expected? How often are you required to send photos and/or updates on your child? What kind of interaction if any is expected with birthparents?
I know, seems like a ton of questions, but you will really start to feel like you jive (or don’t jive) with the agency staff as you have these conversations. I also paid attention to who returned phone calls and/or emails in a timely manner and if I didn’t hear back from agencies after 2 tries, I crossed them off my list. You have to make cuts somehow!
Do you have any other great questions to add to the list?
Blessings on your adoption journey!
These questions are based on my experience of domestic, out-of-state, adoption. If you are just beginning your adoption journey, you may also find Your Adoption Journey Awaits: 10 Tips to Help You Get Started helpful.