Your unofficial guide to choosing an adoption agency

Consider the following questions and topics while you make your decision:

Location. One of the biggest misconceptions about adoption is that you must choose an agency located in your home state. If you're adopting internationally, there are countries, like South Korea, that have strict state-specific guidelines, but generally families are free to choose from agencies around the country. Just make sure the agency you're interested in is licensed to place in your state. One drawback, though, to choosing an agency from far away is the potential loss of meeting local families who have used the same agency. You may also be asked to fill out special interstate paperwork, which can slow down the adoption process. And you'll have to find a social worker in your area to do your home study, which will reduce direct contact with your primary agency. (Most of your direct communication will be with your social worker not the agency program director.)

 

Fees. These vary. Some agencies have a sliding scale. Others do not. While cost is certainly important, never work with an agency that you do not feel comfortable with simply because it is cheaper. You might wind up switching halfway through the adoption and waste valuable time and money.

Specific program experience. Some agencies have lots of practice dealing with certain countries. Others have great track records with domestic placements. Make sure your agency has completed a respectable number of successful adoptions in the plan that interests you. If your agency is pioneering a program in a country that has just opened its doors to U.S. adoptions, check for a strong reputation in facilitating international adoptions from other countries.

What post-adoption services does the agency provide? Does it recognize adoption as a lifelong journey? Will it supply quality programs and services for your adopted child when she reaches 5, 10, 20, 30 or 40? Just because your baby arrives home healthy and happy and adjusts well doesn't mean she'll never think about being adopted!

Travel. Does the agency (or its international affiliates) forbid you to travel to pick up your child? For countries like Korea, where travel is optional, a few agencies do not allow parents to travel. They insist that children be escorted. If personally traveling to pick up your child is a priority, check to make sure your agency doesn't have a restrictive policy.

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