Just about all adoption agencies providing domestic infant adoption offer open adoption, but that’s where the similarities end. Attitude and commitment to open adoption differ widely between agencies. It is worth the effort to find an agency that will be there for you, your child’s birth mother and birth father, and your child for the long term. Use these tips for finding the right domestic open adoption agency for you. And please add your own tips in the comments!
- Look for an agency that feels more like a child welfare agency rather than an adoption agency. They should be looking for the best home for a child, rather than a child for a home. It’s a feel kind of thing that you’ll get from talking with them.
- Good adoption agencies go out of their way to educate adoptive parents and expectant parents on how to create a successful open adoption and on adoptive parenting in general. Most states do not have significant adoption education requirements for domestic adoptions, so adoption agencies are not required to provide or encourage education; therefore, the mark of a good agency is one that requires the education even though they don’t have too.
- The information adoption agencies provide to expectant parents should reflect what the adoptive parents hear. Spend some time on the adoption agency’s website section aimed at prospective birth parents.
- Adoption agencies should offer different forms of counseling to expectant parents. You would like to see both individual counseling and group counseling, although this is not always possible with smaller agencies. What provisions are made when the birth mother does not live nearby.
- Counseling should be offered to birth parents after the adoption, ideally for as long as they need or want support.
- Ask for references for both former adoptive parents and birth parents.
- Pay particular attention to how birth fathers are treated and how the agency handles unidentified birthfathers. Birth fathers should not be treated as sperm donors.
- Adoption agencies should have someone able to help adoptive parents and birth parents if they hit a snag in their open adoption relationship down the line.
- Check out the birth parent ratings of agencies at Adoption Agency Ratings. With any rating service, throw out the outliers and pay attention to the majority. Anyone can have one bad review, especially with something as emotionally charged as placing your child for adoption.
- Good open adoption agencies are also good financially stable agencies, so check out the Creating a Family’s Three Step Process for Choosing an Adoption Agency, List of Questions to ask when choosing an adoption agency, and Red Flags for Unethical Adoption Agencies.
You may want to listen to or download this really terrific Creating a Family show on How to Choose an Adoption Agency with Laura Christianson, author of The Adoption Decision among other books; and Elizabeth Falker, author of The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Adoption.
What have we left out? What should adoptive parents look for when choosing an open adoption agency?