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In order to ensure that you choose an adoption agency that's experienced, ethical, and that's the right fit for your family, pose these questions to the agencies you're considering.
- How many children did you place last year?
- How many children did you place from each of the programs in which I am interested?
- How long have you been placing children from each of the countries I'm interested in?
- (For single parents) How many children did you place with a single parent? What types of children were placed with single parents?
- (For gay and lesbian parents) How many children did you place with gay or lesbian couples? What types of children were placed with gay and lesbian parents?
- How soon after I apply will my home study begin? How long will it take to complete? When will I know if I have been approved?
- If I am not approved, can I find out why? Is there an appeal process?
- How long will it take from home study approval to the referral of a child? What happens if I don't feel I can accept the child referred?
- (For international adoptions) Once I accept a referral, how long must I wait for the child to arrive or until I travel to adopt my child?
- What will be the total cost of adopting through each program? Do you supply a breakdown of fees in writing as well as a schedule of when payments are due?
- Does the fee cover the home study, all postplacement visits, fees to the placing agency (international or in-country), international processing, transportation and miscellaneous fees (visa, dossier preparation, notarization, medical exams, document translation, exit tax)?
- Do you have an annual report that demonstrates fiscal accountability? How does the agency spend leftover funds? What percentage of the funds is spent on administration?
- How are prospective parents matched with expectant mothers?
- How are birth mother expenses handled? Are prospective parents asked to reimburse specific expenses, or do they make a contribution to a fund that covers expenses for all the expectant mothers who work with the agency? Is there a cap on birth mother expenses?
- Do you offer counseling to expectant mothers?
- What happens if an expectant mother match falls through?
- Do you help negotiate post-adoption contact?
- Does the lawyer pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable with the decision-making process?
- Do you have more than one foreign adoption program? Could I switch my application to another country if regulations change or a moratorium is declared?
- Are the international agencies you work with licensed in their own countries? How long have you worked with them?
- Do you help prepare clients for the adoption trip? Do you help make travel arrangements?
- Do you have bilingual representatives respected by the authorities in each foreign country to obtain or assist with the referral of a child? Will they be there to assist me through the process when I arrive?
- Do you provide financial assistance to the orphanages from which you place children?
Other pertinent questions
- Do you give clients a copy of their rights with their application form? Do you provide a contract that spells out my responsibilities toward the adoption as well as what you are responsible for?
- Is there a written policy of quality assurance that will address my concerns during the process?
- What kinds of support services do you offer before, during and after placement?
- What if the adoption doesn't work out?
Questions to ensure that an adoption provider is ethical
- How long has the agency been in business?
- What does the agency do to ensure that the child is a documented orphan and that the best needs of the child are being considered in an adoption?
- What information was supplied by local and state authorities responsible for licensing when asked about a particular agency?
- What information was supplied by the Consular Affairs Bureau of the U.S. State Department and the U.S. embassy in the capital city of the foreign country when asked about a particular agency? Also, take the opportunity to find out from these sources how adoptions in that country are going. Does that information match what you have been told by the agency?
- The agency should be able to describe in detail how it follows the laws and guidelines of both domestic and international governments and how it assists adopting families in making sure that they also meet all laws and guidelines.
- Does the agency actively promote the placement of special needs and waiting children? Does it reduce fees for such placements?
Find out more:
By Cynthia Teeters
Adapted from "Shopping for an Adoption Agency," Adoption Information Service, Seattle, Washington.
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