Questions to Ask When You're Choosing an Adoption Agency

The right adoption agency can guide you through the complicated adoption process, specifically legal issues depending on your specific state of adoption and state of residence, assist in finding the type of adoption best suited for your family, and, hopefully, help place a child in your arms. Asking the right questions when selecting an adoption agency is the first step toward a successful adoption.

Do You Specialize in Certain Types of Adoptions?
There are various forms of adoption available to families today. Whether you are interested in an open or closed adoption may impact the adoption agency that you select. If you are planning an international or domestic adoption, there are certain agencies better suited to your specific needs. The same is true of step-parent and familial adoptions. Though most adoption agencies will assist both married couples and single-parent families, you may want to ask about single-parent placements and related success rates and waiting times, if that is a concern for you.

How Much Do You Charge?
A domestic private agency adoption can cost anywhere from $4,000 to more than $30,000. If you are interested in a private agency adoption, you may be required to pay the birth mother's medical fees and living expenses, which can be costly. International adoptions can be more expensive when travel expenses are included in the final cost. Though the adoption agency might not be able to give you an exact price at your first meeting, they should be able to provide you with some information about their fees and an estimate based on the type of adoption that you are persuing.

Do You Have References?
In addition to meeting with the staff, you'll want to get in contact with other people who have used the agency before. If you haven't found an agency through a personal referral, take the time to contact people who have worked with them. Reputable agencies will never balk at giving you a list of references to call. You should also verify the agency's license on your own with your state's government and look for complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau before you give the agency any money.

How Long Is Your Waiting List? What Is Your Success Rate?
Many adoption agencies, such as the Adoption Network Law Center, readily publicize information about the size of their waiting lists, their average wait and their success rate. The Adoption Network Law Center, for example, has an average wait time of approximately nine months. Remember that each situation is different, and your wait time may vary depending on a variety of factors out of the control of the adoption agency.

Can You Help Me with My Home Study?
If you haven't yet completed a home study, a good adoption agency should be able to give you some direction about completing this necessary step toward securing a successful adoption. A home study is a way for the courts to determine that you will be able to provide a stable and loving home environment for your child. One is required in order for an adoption to proceed and, in most cases, for the adoption process to begin.

How Will I Be Selected?
Be sure to get a clear idea of how the adoption agency conducts business. Will the birth mother be selecting you, or will the agency manage the placement? How do they determine their recommendations, if they are the ones to make the suggestions? A firm understanding of the agency's guidelines and processes can make the entire process more clear for adoptive parents.

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