For adoptive parents, choosing an adoption agency or attorney can 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 be asking. Unlike a lot of other professions, there aren’t any websites that provide honest agency or attorney reviews. In fact, most of the review websites are actually owned and run by an adoption agency or facilitator. Here are some important questions to ask any adoption agency or attorney.
Where are you licensed to operate?
Adoptive parents should work with an agency or attorney licensed in their state. If your child's expectant mother lives in another state, you will also need to pay for her attorney and support services in her state.
Note: Make sure you’re working with licensed agency or attorney, not a facilitator or baby broker.
Will you help us find an 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 and outreach.
How much do you estimate our adoption will cost? Not just including your fees, but parties who will expect to be paid?
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 budget and plan realistically.
What kind of support do you offer expectant mothers before, during, and after the adoption?
We’re not just 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 speaks derogatorily about expectant/birth mothers.
How do you help adoptive parents match with an expectant mother?
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.
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 should make sure the agreement about post-adoption contact is written down and signed by everyone.
Do you ask adoptive parents to sign a 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?