Picking the Right Agency

Services Provided by Agencies

There are a lot of variables among the services provided by adoption agencies. One common first step is an orientation meeting or training session for prospective adoptive parents. At the meeting or training you will likely:

  • Learn about policies and practices regarding adoption
  • Learn what types of children are available for adoption
  • Learn about foster care
  • Be asked to examine your feelings about adoption and judge if adoption is right for you
  • Gain insight into the challenges and rewards of adoptive parenting
  • Obtain application materials

Questions to Ask an Agency Before a Home Study

Before you sign up with an agency, you may want to ask some questions like the following, which have been excerpted from AdoptUsKids.org

About the Agency

  • Is the agency licensed by the state to make special needs adoptions?
  • How many special needs adoptions has the agency made in the past 5 years?
  • Have any of the agency's adoptions fallen through or disrupted in the past five years?
  • If yes, for what reason?
  • What steps does the agency take to make sure that adoptions proceed as planned and do not disrupt after placement?
  • Can the agency provide references from parents who recently adopted through them?

About Adoptive Children and Parents:

  • What is the general profile of children the agency places (age range, background, ethnicity, etc)?
  • Who is eligible to adopt from the agency? Some agencies will consider only married couples, people within a certain age range, or people with certain religious affiliations or racial backgrounds.

About Their Procedure:

  • What is the average time lapse between application and placement?
  • What are the agency’s requirements for documents, classes, fees, interviews, travel, etc.?
  • What is the agency’s policy toward applicants who do not accept the first child offered to them? Find out if you can turn down a child who is available for adoption. Ask whether you will still be considered for another child.
  • Does the agency sponsor any support groups for parents.

About the Homestudy:

  • What are the agency’s specific requirements and guidelines for a homestudy?
  • Can the agency’s homestudy be used to adopt a child from another state?
  • Does the agency provide a written homestudy?

About Training:

  • Does the agency provide pre-adoptive training?
  • What are the hours and frequency of training?
  • Will both parents (if applicable) be required to participate in the training?

About the Costs:

  • What are the costs for an adoption, and what does each part of the process cost? What are the application fees, homestudy fees, fees for classes, anticipated travel costs, and any other potential expenses? Does the agency have fee schedules and payment plans?
  • Can the agency help applicants locate and access sources of financial aid including subsidies?

About Finding an Adoptive Child:

  • Does the agency provide assistance in finding a child?
  • Will the agency follow-up on children you have found on internet photo listings?
  • What methods does the agency use to search for and identify available children?

About Interstate Adoptions:

  • Is the agency willing to make interstate placements? If so, how many interstate placements have they made in the past 5 years?
  • What are the homestudy requirements/fees for out-of-state children?
  • Is the agency willing to release your homestudy to an agency in another state?
  • Has the agency ever received "Purchase of Service" payments from another state agency?

About post-placement services:

  • What services will the agency provide before and after a child is placed? Will the agency require or provide?
  • counseling or classes for you or your child?
  • Does the agency provide support group activities or respite care?

Let the agency know you are serious about adopting. When you call an agency and indicate your interest in special needs adoption, the person you talk to may ask a series of screening questions or simply volunteer to send literature about the agency. If you want to adopt relatively soon, find out how you can get the process started.