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How to select an adoption agency

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Picking the right adoption agency

While the most important decisions you make about your adoption may relate to the type of adoption -- domestic, international, or foster-adopt, for example, the country from which you wish to adopt, or whether you are capable of parenting a child with special needs, do not overlook an equally significant decision. Believe it or not, selecting an adoption agency is one of the choices you should put a considerable amount of time, research, and effort into making. A carefully researched choice can ensure a smooth process, or at least a team of professionals to support you through the rough patches, but the wrong one can have serious consequences.

Couple meeting with adoption agency

Do you need an adoption agency? A licensed adoption agency is necessary for most international adoptions. While a few countries allow independent adoptions, that option is infrequent and often the paperwork is cumbersome and difficult to navigate, especially in a foreign country, without the assistance of an agency. As such, an agency is generally needed to adopt overseas. Additionally, while some families chose to use an attorney for a private domestic adoption, many choose an adoption agency.

Placement agency vs. home study agency

If you are adopting internationally, you may have to choose two agencies. As if selecting one is not enough work! If the agency you select to match you with a child from overseas is not licensed in your state to conduct home studies, you will also have to select a local agency to prepare your home study report, post placement report, and possibly assist you with the readoption of your child.

While this article is mainly focused on choosing a placement agency, do not assume that one decision is more important than another. Each of these agencies will play an integral role in bringing a child that needs a home into your family and each has the ability to assist in the process or make it difficult. 

What makes an agency "good?"

Is it the number of children they place? Low fees?  Short wait times? No! There are many factors to consider and they all need to be considered as a whole, not independently.  Kelli K. of Indiana researched agencies for her adoption from Vietnam for two months. In the end, she chose an agency based on the high volume of referrals it had consistently made.

However, after waiting for five months and observing both irregularities and inconsistencies, she chose to leave that agency. While Kelli was fortunate in that she only lost a quarter of the $5,000 she had paid to the agency, she lost nearly half a year.  Leaving the agency was not a decision Kelli took lightly, but she realized that there was far more to a good agency than one that refers a lot of children. In the end, it worked out for Kelli.  She chose another agency after much research and was matched with her beautiful son. However, not all stories have a happy ending, and Kelli still lost a significant amount of time and some money.

Next page: Questions to ask when selecting an adoption agency

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