Choosing an Adoption Agency or attorney to work with you through your journey of building a family is not an easy decision. These are the people that will help join you with your future child. There are many elements to consider when deciding what agency to work with during your journey.
Explore Different Adoption Paths
Different Types of Adoption– There are a few different avenues for adoption and it’s important to research them all in order to find the best fit for your family. Are you looking to adopt internationally or domestically? Would you be interested in starting as a foster parent? Are you willing to have an open adoption? Are you looking to adopt a baby or an older child? Would you consider a child with special needs?
If you are looking to adopt internationally, there are only certain agencies and attorneys who work in such capacities. Find out more about Intercountry Adoption through the US Department of State website.
If you would be interested adopting from foster care, there all ages of children who are in need of homes. Please be aware that while there are some children in the system who are immediately available for placement, the intent of foster care is reunification and so in many cases fostering does NOT equal permanent placement. Find out more here.
Open adoption is more often than not how domestic adoptions are being done, so if you do think closed adoption is best for you, your options are more limited, and you may find international adoption is generally, not always, a more closed process. However, there are many misconceptions and fears around open adoption which may cause families to want to steer toward closed adoption, so before settling on closed adoption, please consider some of the important benefits here. If you are looking for an open domestic adoption that usually places prospective parents with infants, there are many agencies who can help you learn more and start you journey, including Adoptions from The Heart.
Financial Need– Adoption can be an expensive process and varies depending upon the type of adoption you choose to pursue. It’s important prior to jumping into the process, to really explore the financial aspects. What can I manage financially, will I be borrowing out of my retirement or do I have another way to cover the initial expenses? Is international adoption too expensive? How will the federal tax credit of over $13,000 benefit me personally? Are there adoption grants or loans I qualify for or does my employer offer an adoption benefit? What are the agency’s fees and what do they cover? Are their additional legal fees I will need to save for as well?
Find out more about financing an adoption here.
Accessibility– Does your career allow for you to travel to faraway for international adoption or even an out of area domestic placement? How much time will you get off work both before and after being placed with a child? Are you willing to make traveling arrangements for visits with the birthparent if you choose open adoption? Do you want your child’s birthparent close enough that they can attend special events in your child’s life should they want to?
If you want accessibility in your adoption journey, during and post placement, whether it be for work, your child’s ability to connect with their roots, or any other reason, you should consider working with a local adoption agency. Find one in your area here.
Know your options and ask for help
Adopting a child is no doubt a big milestone in life. Asking for help from those around you who are in some way related to adoption can make all the difference. You may know someone who has adopted a child, or who was adopted as a child. You may even know someone who placed their child for adoption if they are open about it. 6 out of 10 Americans are touched by adoption in some way, so chances are, you know someone! Ask that person if they are comfortable answering some of your questions. If they aren’t, that’s okay; there are other connections to adoption in your life.
Reaching out to your doctor or OB/GYN to ask questions and get recommendations is always a valuable place to begin. From working with expectant parents considering adoption, or other families like yourself, looking to adopt, they probably have some ideas of agencies people have enjoyed working with, and knowledge about the adoption process in general.
You can also call a local adoption agency, even if you don’t end up working with them, just to get some general questions answered from a social worker who works in adoption every day. Many agencies host free information meetings or online webinars where you can learn even more about the process.
There are also great support groups and blogs online where you can read and chat with people who have experience with adoption from all around the world! Check out some of the best adoption blogs out there!
Gauge what level of support is available to you, your child, and the birth parents
Some agencies will help you get placed with a child, and that is their main purpose. Others want to support you, the child, and the birth parents throughout the whole process, even after placement. Consider what services they provide outside of placement. Do they offer counseling, education opportunities, or support groups? Do they act as a contact liaison between your family and the birth parents in an open adoption? Are their services available to EVERY person involved in the adoption triad? If the answer is yes, you’ve found a great agency. If the answer is no, but you aren’t looking for that level of involvement, that’s okay too. Just know that even if you don’t think you want that level of support, working with an agency that offers it means they will always be there to help if you change your mind.
Consider how they make you feel
Adopting a child and building your family will no doubt be one of the greatest journeys of your life. However, that does not mean it is easy. Prospective adoptive parents could be in waiting for just a month while others wait more than two years. You may be chosen by an expecting parent, but they may decide to parent before the child is placed or the adoption is finalized. You may go through post-placement depression, similar to post-partum, after having a child placed with you. The journey to adopting a child is not easy, but the agency you choose can help you through the difficulties and share the joy with you during the good times.
If you find an adoption agency that makes you feel overly-optimistic, like nothing could go wrong and you’ll be placed with a baby in a matter of weeks, know that this positivity is not always good. They might be over promising and you might only discover a different reality once they have collected large fees. On the flip side, if an agency makes you feel defeated and hopeless and makes you wonder why you’re even trying adoption, that isn’t good either. Having realistic expectations is important, but you should also have a support system that encourages you to put your heart into adoption and rejoice in the growth of your family so that you can put your best most truest self forward in your adoption profile and when meeting expecting parents. If you find an agency that encourages your excitement about adopting, but is real with you about the difficulties of adoption, and teaches you about the losses involved for everyone in the adoption triad, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Ultimately, every family is different and you have to be honest with yourself about what is best and most comfortable for you. However, you should educate yourself on all of your options before making the all-important decision of what agency will help you grow your family.