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Adoption comes with many questions and concerns. There are many complicated  steps that need to be accomplished in order to reach the goal of creating a forever home for you and your future adopted child. Perhaps the most important support in this goal is the adoption agency that you choose to guide you through these steps.

This blog will discuss some important issues to consider when selecting the adoption agency that will be your partner. Asking the right questions can help you through this process. Finding the perfect fit with an agency is critical to achieving your dreams and goals of adopting.

Are You a Prospective Adoptive Parent?

A prospective adoptive parent is a term used to define an individual or couple who are willing and ready to adopt. This is a lifelong commitment that parents make when adopting.

The adoption process can be long and stressful. In some cases, the process of adoption can take a few months to a few years. This all depends on the availability of children from where you are choosing to adopt, where the agency is located and your financial means. It takes strong and committed individuals to become adoptive parents. Adoption is not for everyone but with the proper tools, guidance, questions, and agency, adoption can be an incredible journey.

What to Ask and Why

Prospective adoptive parents have a lot of questions as to what to do next and where to go. The following are some questions to consider when seeking out an adoption agency. Along with each of the questions are reasons why those questions should be asked.

  • What kind of support does the agency offer pre and post-adoption? 

During the adoption process, you may have many questions about what to expect, what you need to do, and how to prepare for the arrival of your child. Prospective parents will need a place to turn to during this time.  Some agencies provide support groups, educational workshops, and counseling while waiting. Only you can decide if this will be beneficial and how important those services are to you. After adoption, unexpected issues will definitely arise and, even in the best of circumstances, things may not be the way you pictured them. Support from the adoption agency can help you the questions you may have and the guidance you may need. Generally, communication and guidance from your agency are key throughout the pre and post-adoption process. It’s important to ask your agency what services they provide.

  • Does the agency have any policies regarding cross -racial and cross-religious adoptions?

Many families are open to adopting children of different backgrounds and ethnicities from themselves. While most agencies have policies that include these adoptions, some agencies focus on specific religions or try to match children to parents that are similar in background and characteristics. It’s important to know that you and your agency are in agreement.

  • What if a couple only wants to adopt a child like them?

As mentioned above, it’s important to know that you and your agency are in agreement as to how children and parents may be matched. Some parents may choose to adopt a child who resembles them. Sometimes they do this to prevent issues for the child with “fitting in” easily with extended family or community. Identity for a child is critical when they are growing up. Adopted children generally understand they do not look like their adoptive parents, however, some parents may only want a child with similar characteristics to their own. Take into consideration that by selecting a child based on gender or race makes the process of adoption longer and, in many cases, agencies will not accept clients who make this a condition for adopting.

  • What does adoption cost and what services does the payment cover?

When you contact the agency always ask for detailed information on costs and fees. For instance, working with private agencies can cost an estimated $5,000 to $40,000 or more. The services may include legal services, the home study, support groups for adoptive parents, families and the adopted child, care of the child while awaiting placement, and more. There may also be available resources for parents who cannot afford the adoption fees that can be discussed further with the agency.

  • What are the requirements the adoptive couple must have to be considered for that particular agency?

Agencies may specialize in working with gay couples, single parents or other specific groups. Also, agencies may vary in their requirements of income level and/or age of prospective adoptive parents. Some states requirements vary and therefore, additional research may be necessary.

  • Are there services where the child gets to meet other adopted children?

Adopted children can benefit from socializing with other adopted children because it allows them to see they are not the only ones who are in that situation. Seeing others dealing with the same struggles help growth within the adoptive individual. Agencies often provide support groups and events for adoptive parents and adopted children to join and attend to help cope with the issues raised by adoption. In some cases, if they cannot provide these services themselves, they can often refer the family to someone who can.

  • Does the agency do open adoptions and/or closed adoptions?

Some adoptive families are interested in continuing a relationship with the birth mother or family, while others may feel it can be too confusing for the child. Discussing needs and hopes for your adoption with the agency can help you go over semi-open, open, and/or closed adoptions and choose what works best for your family.

  • Will the prospective adoptive parents be working with the agency in person or will it be a long distance relationship?

Some prospective parents are more comfortable speaking face-to-face with those they are working with, while others just want the result of having a child and are content working from a distance. Agency locations vary state to state. Before the prospective adoptive parents begin the adoption process they should ask the agency about locations and what the process is when communicating with them.

  • How successful are you at matching children with families?

It is important to understand how successful the agency has been in completing adoptions for their applicants. For example, what are percentages of applicants that go on to complete an adoption? In the same vein how many children are placed by your agency annually? The answer to these questions will help you to understand whether this agency is a good fit and what is your likelihood of achieving your goal of adopting a child.

Other Important Information

Licensed Agency

When you are searching for an agency make sure they have a license. You want an agency that is reputable. If you are adopting through an agency you still have the option of searching out a separate legal counsel of your choosing. You may want to contact the State Licensing Specialist in the state where the agency is located. This will give you more information on how long the agency has had its license and if there were any complaints filed against the agency.

Research the Agency

Research is key for the prospective adoptive parents when beginning the search for an agency.  Agencies vary in different areas of adoption. If there is a particular adoption you are searching, for instance, an open or semi-open adoption, closed adoption and/or domestic or foreign adoptions, there are certain adoption laws and guidelines agencies follow.

Joining a parent support group can be a good place to be if you are a prospective adoptive parent. Support groups allow others in your similar situation to come together and discuss different experiences, and agencies they may recommend using or not.

Communication with the Agency

This varies between the different agencies, but some may be overloaded with other prospective parents who are in the process of adopting. If you are looking for an agency that will more attentive to your areas of concern and the process of the adoption, that may be something you should consider when choosing what agency to work with.

Some prospective parents may want to meet in person with their agencies rather than not or vice versa. Knowing your availability and the availability of the agency is critical in making sure the process of adoption happens in a timely matter.

Conclusion

There will be a lot of different steps, places, and people that you will encounter as prospective adoptive parents. Keeping track and up to date with where you need to go and who to see is critical to the adoption process. If you are not organized, documents can go missing and there may be delays with the adoption process.

This can seem like a long daunting process for the prospective adoptive parent, but the end result is worthwhile. Adoption is a life changing experience for not only the adopted individual but for the prospective adoptive parents. It is thereby crucial to properly assess the agency you are considering to help with the adoption.

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Caughman, Susan, and Isolde Motley. “Selecting Gender in Adoption: The Pros and Cons.” Adoptive Families: The How-to-Adopt and Adoption Parenting Network, Adoptive Families Magazine, 24 Oct. 2016, www.adoptivefamilies.com/how-to-adopt/selecting-gender-in-adoption/.

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Johnson, Chuck. “Choosing the Right Adoption Agency For Your Family.” RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Resolve, 2018, resolve.org/what-are-my-options/adoption/choosing-adoption-agency/.

“‘Open’ or ‘Closed’ Adoption?” FamilyEducation, Sandbox Network, 25 July 2006, www.familyeducation.com/life/open-or-closed-adoption/open-or-closed-adoption.

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US Legal, Inc. “Prospective Adoptive Parent Law and Legal Definition.” Fraud Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc., 2016, definitions.uslegal.com/p/prospective-adoptive-parent/.

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