Agency size. Is the program too small or too big? Some folks think a big program moves more quickly and efficiently. Others find it impersonal.
Community. How much of an adoption community can you form by working with your agency? It can be wonderful to find a ready-made network of friends by going through the process with other families who live in your area. If this is important to you, stick with agencies in your immediate vicinity.
Religion. Is the agency's religious philosophy important to you? Some agencies were founded on Christian or Jewish principles of faith, so devout sayings and beliefs are often highlighted in their materials. Some people are drawn to this. It turns others off.
Search and open adoption. What is the agency's policies and attitudes on open adoption? Does it take a stand on searching for birth relatives? Will it support your child's right to search or NOT search for her birth parents, based on individual temperament? Will the agency assist your child in locating and being reunited with birth parents if she does conduct a search? If the agency does provide assistance, how old does your child have to be to initiate such a search? What is the policy on parent-initiated searches? How will the agency protect your child's right to privacy if she does not wish to be contacted by her birth parents?
Parenting preparation. What kind of classes or instruction does the agency offer? Will it adequately prepare you for the unique challenges of raising an adopted child of (in some cases) another race? Does the agency place a high value on educating parents?
Carry the abbreviated Print & Go version of this checklist with you as you shop for agencies. And be sure to check out tips from other Parent Soupers on what to look for in an adoption agency. It will be time well spent in preparing for your future family.