Adopting a child can be a long and bumpy journey. Nevertheless, the reward can be truly wonderful. About two-thirds of all adoptions are arranged by private or public adoption agencies. A public agency is a state or county agency, which places children and is supported by consumer tax dollars. The private agency is in most cases licensed by the state, but operates using fees from adoptive families and/or charitable contributions. Most private agencies are non-profit organizations.
Although the majority of adoption agencies, attorneys or others involved in the adoption process are honest and helpful, there are a few which have questionable practices. Some agencies or attorneys, for example, may charge exorbitant fees or ask for a retainer in full when the person applies, without provisions for refunds of any kind.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggests that you carefully review the standards procedures of any agency you plan to use. Contact the BBB for a reliability report on the agency. You can also contact your State Adoption Specialist or an individual at your state Social Services headquarters to see if there are any complaints or investigations about the agency. Consider calling adoptive parent groups in your area and ask them if any members have had experience with the agency.
When you have located an agency or attorney and you are thinking about applying to adopt, you should ask the following questions:
* Does the organization concentrate on placing infants or older children?
* What type of adoptive parents does the agency seek?
* How long will it take from applying to the agency to the start of the home study? (The home study is an informational gathering process to make sure that people hoping to adopt are ready for parenthood and to help them understand how to become good parents.) Find out how many children the agency has placed in the last year.
* What preparation classes, seminars or reading does the agency require of adoptive parents?
* What supervision will occur after the child is placed with your family but before finalization of the adoption? (Most adoptions are finalized by the court about six months after the child is placed.) Also, ask what assistance the agency can provide after the adoption.
Get names of people who have adopted children through the agency. Names may be available from the agency or from the parent groups. Call the adoptive parents and ask them if it's convenient to discuss their agency experience with you. Finally, you'll want to secure expert advice before signing any contract.