You have made the decision to adopt; now what? If you are like me, you may be a researcher. I don’t do anything without doing a lot of research: book a hotel, find the perfect flight, or any number of other things. Adoption is a huge undertaking and finding the right agency for you may take time and research. As an adoption professional, working for an adoption agency, I meet and talk with families all the time who are trying to find the agency that is right for them. Those last three words I just wrote are the most important. You need to find the right adoption agency that is RIGHT FOR YOU.
First, you need to decide what type of adoption you want to pursue. Domestic infant through an agency, a private domestic adoption, international adoption, or adoption through foster care. This will help guide you on agencies to start researching. Not every agency can do all of the above mentioned types of adoption. So you need to make sure that the agencies you are looking into are able to assist you in the type of adoption you are looking to pursue.
Second, do your research. The internet is a wonderful tool. Basic information can be found on most agency websites. Also, most adoption agencies have a basic inquiry packet that they can send to you via email or by mail. This will give you an overview of the programs that they offer, a little about the process, and should hopefully include their fees. If an agency does not disclose their fees up front, I would see that as a red flag and something to consider as you begin to move forward and narrow things down.
Third, go to information meetings. The majority of reputable agencies out there offer information meetings. Most are group, in-person meetings, but some agencies may do individual meetings in person or by phone. Information meetings are typically free (and if they are not this should be another red flag). Attend a few information meetings to see what various agencies are about. You don’t need to make any commitment when you attend a meeting. When families attend information meetings that I hold, my job is to give them clear and accurate information so that they can make an informed decision on what type of adoption they want to pursue and how the agency I work for can assist them with that goal.
Fourth, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether it be at the meeting itself or after the fact (I know I am the person who leaves somewhere and comes up with a million questions that I should have asked during the car ride home). There is no stupid question. Adoption is a life-changing decision and you need to make sure that you are fully informed. I personally love when families ask questions because I can tailor answers to their specific situations. If you are intimidated to ask a question in a group, then stay after the meeting and ask in private, or call or email the next day.
Fifth, and final, you need to be 100% comfortable with the agency that you choose. This is the most important thing. You can do the research, attend the information meetings but you need to have that “warm and fuzzy” feeling about the agency and social worker that you are going to work with. Adoption is a roller coaster. There are lots of emotions and feelings involved. It can often be overwhelming. The job of your agency/social worker is to help make that roller coaster less bumpy; to be there to support you on the hard days and to rejoice with you on the happy ones. I have had families tell me that they are going with a different agency then the one I work for because they felt it was a better fit. What do I say to that? “Great! I wish you all the best in your journey.”
Why? Because I truly want them to be comfortable with the agency that they choose.
Choosing an agency can be overwhelming. But with research, asking questions, and getting that “just right” feeling you will find the agency that is your perfect match as you move forward in your adoption journey.