Check out this great woman-to-woman advice from other iVillagers:
Be proactive in your adoption.... Don't just wait for the agency or lawyer to find you a child. Go out and help to make it happen. It's very empowering after feeling powerless dealing with infertility.--dana1956
When the right situation comes ... it will move along. Watch for red flags, consult with professionals, but listen to your heart. The majority of adoptions have some bumpy spots, but you'll get through them if this is the right child.--donnach
Understand your limitations.... and don't let anyone talk you into anything you are not comfortable with (although you should keep an open mind!)--emmacarolinesmom
Reach out for support during tough times.... Our first adoption took a long time. During the midst of it, I got really down and avoided the support groups that we had been going to during the initial phases. In hindsight, I think that was a big mistake, and I would have been better off mentally if I had not withdrawn.--pbj mom
Be prepared for a loooooonnnnnngg wait.... That way, if it's shorter you'll be pleasantly surprised!--jlosburn
We live in Brooklyn, New York, but we used an agency in Seattle, Washington. We were very happy with this setup. If you use an out-of-state agency, you will need to get a home study done either through a licensed social worker or a locally based agency. This isn't necessarily more expensive.
Shop around for agencies; the fees differ wildly, and for different things. Make sure you understand what they are providing and that there are no hidden costs. Also make sure they are people you feel comfortable with. This can be a tense process, and you want to feel you can talk to these people.
See if any agencies are giving adoption workshops or informational meetings. It's good to meet the agency personnel face to face. Ask for references, and call them. Make sure any agency you use has a long track record.... Many new agencies have sprung up recently, and you want people who really know the ropes.
From personal experience: Anything can go wrong in international adoption and probably will. We waited a year for an adoption from Ecuador that never happened. It helped that we went with a large agency that was able to transfer our paperwork from Ecuador to China very easily. --Lisajane44
I am going through my church.... I was looking for an agency that had open adoption. The birth parent has the right to be a part of the baby's life -- and if she chooses to, I want to make sure she has the opportunity.
I also wanted an agency that had counseling for anyone involved. The whole adoption process can, and will be, stressful. I want to make sure that if counseling is needed, it is right at our fingertips. --Jenna B.
I have adopted four beautiful kids. Three of them were newborns. Their adoption fees were covered, and they receive medical benefits until they are 18.
My advice would be to check out state adoptions. There are many kids in need of a family right here in the U.S.
Three of ours had been abandoned at birth, one on a street corner. These kids need help.
Try foster care as an entry to adoption. We didn't have money to adopt, just a deep desire. Now I am a mom of six. --Linda D.
Make sure the agency is made up of people that you can connect with. Do they answer your calls within a few hours? This was really important when I first started but even more when I started to obsess about arrival.
Can you access the agency via email? I liked that I could contact people via email. I didn't feel like I was interrupting someone else's placement, and I got to ask my questions of specific staff people.
Does the agency have similar goals and objectives to your own? I liked that our agency puts its emphasis on caring for kids. The goal is finding homes for children, not children for parents. While my goal was finding a child, I wanted to work with someone who was not feeding into my self-serving motivation.
The agency should have a long-term commitment to the child and your family. Do they offer cultural experiences for the kids? Do they give support when the child arrives and there are attachment and bonding issues? Are there family gatherings so the children can see other adopted children?
Are the agency's religious beliefs similar to yours? I like that ours is a Christian. Others may be turned off by it. Read all the materials to see if the language the agency uses in reference to religious beliefs is something you can live with.--bsmith5500Introduction