What Adoption Services Should an Adoption Agency Provide

What services does your adoption agency provide? The basic adoption services do not vary much from agency to agency, but some agencies go above and beyond to help you and the child better adapt to the adoption process.

The Basics
Here's what to expect at a minimum from an adoption agency.

  • Support groups. One of the main services that should be offered by your agency is access to support groups. Adoption can be a stressful, emotional experience for everyone involved, and support groups help both families deal with the transition. Support groups may be considered mandatory to ensure that children placed in new homes are loved and cared for properly. They can also make sure that mothers and fathers who place their children are making informed decisions.
  • Financing options. To facilitate fast and appropriate placement, many adoption agencies offer financing options to adoptive parents. Since adoption can be quite expensive, help with putting the money together might be necessary. Services can range from helping families find personal loans for adoption to coordinating with employers who offer adoption assistance as a benefit. Without financing options and assistance, far fewer children would find new homes.
  • Parenting classes. These classes are intended to help adoptive families learn to cope with parenthood. From changing diapers to basic first aid, parenting classes take much of the stress and pressure out of bringing a child home for the first time. These classses can be either elective or mandatory, but they should be held at convenient times and over a period of time. As parents become more comfortable with their new responsibilities, they may choose to discontinue the classes. Adoption agencies may also offer classes on finance, home security, child transport and other important subjects central to adoption. The more classes offered, the more likely children will be safe and happy in their homes.
  • Child counseling. Many adoption agencies work not only with infants, but also with older children who might have lost their parents. A transition to a new family as an older child can create numerous psychological and emotional issues that need to be addressed. By providing counseling, agencies can ensure not only the physical health, but also the mental health of their charges. Child counseling should continue once children have been placed. This is especially true if children have exhibited behavior disorders or significant emotional trauma as a result of adoption. For example, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia offers numerous options for child counseling before and after adoption, and has an entire department dedicated to pediatric psychology.
  • Foster care. Adoption agencies should include a foster program that allows children to live with families temporarily until they are placed. This removes them from an institutional setting and provides them with personalized, individual care. Foster care should be monitored closely, and all foster parents should be vetted extensively before placement. According to The New York Times, almost 20% of New Jersey children placed in foster care in 2001 were victims of neglect or abuse. Statistics from around America show similar figures. This is why adoption services must be careful about families with whom they place children.

As you're comparing agencies, ask questions about the services that they offer. Look for services that go beyond the basics and multiple meeting times for classes and support groups that work with your schedule.

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