For adoptive parents, choosing an adoption professional make or break their adoption experience.Here are some tips from the experts on how to choose the right professional.
Choosing the right adoption agency or attorney is absolutely crucial, but it’s not easy to know where to start or what questions you should ask along the way. Unlike a lot of other professions, there aren’t any unbiased review websites (TIP: most of the ones you’ll find online are actually owned by an adoption agency or facilitator!). As you do, here are some important questions to ask a potential agency or attorney:
1) Where are you licensed to operate?
You will need to be working with either an agency or attorney licensed in your state. If the expectant mother lives in another state, you will need to hire an attorney for her in that state as well.
Also, make sure you’re hiring a licensed agency or attorney, not starting with a facilitator.
2) Do you market for us or do you expect us to find our own expectant mother?
Not all attorneys and agencies have programs in place to help you connect with expectant mothers considering adoption. Some will expect you to do your own marketing or retain an adoption matching service, like AdoptMatch.
Before you hire anyone to help you network, first ask about their marketing strategy, analytics, and success rate.
3) How much do you estimate our adoption will cost? Not just from your fees, but from all of the parties involved that we will need to pay?
There are many expenses involved in an adoption: social workers, agencies, attorneys, expectant mother living expenses, counselors, doctors, hospitals, notary fees, process server, and court fees to name a few - make sure you get a complete list so you can plan realistically.
4) What kind of support do you offer expectant mothers before, during, and after the adoption?
We’re not talking about financial support here, but options education, individual counseling (before and after placement), separate legal representation, housing referrals, child care, and birth mother support groups. Every expectant mother should be offered her own attorney at no cost to her along with at least 12 counseling sessions from a counselor who is experienced with issues related to grief and loss.
TIP: Stay clear of anyone who is dismissive of or speaks derogatorily about expectant/birth mothers.
5) How do you clients find a good match?
Ask about how the professional screens expectant mothers and how they determine what kind of characteristics she’s hoping for in an adoptive family for her child. Be sure to have an honest conversation about your general parameters for the adoption and for the child you will ultimately welcome into your home, including living expenses, post-adoption contact, and drug and alcohol exposure.
TIP: An ethical adoption professional will help guide you through a thoughtful, judgment-free consideration of your tolerances related to drug and alcohol exposure, mental health or medical issues, learning disabilities, ethnicity, and contact after adoption.
6) What's your view of open adoption, and do you use written post-adoption contact agreements?
Your relationship with your child’s birth family is central to your child’s developing a positive self-identity.Find a professional who will help you plan for and navigate that relationship in a child-centered way.
No matter how open and loving your relationship is with your child’s birth parents, you make sure the agreement about post-adoption contact is written down and signed by everyone.
7) What is your non-disparagement clause?
Does your fee agreement include a nondisclosure provision or anything else that would restrict us from speaking critically about our experience with your organization?