When you are ready to add a child to your family through adoption it’s an exciting time, but too often future parents jump into the process without knowing much about it. In some cases they might fall victim to a poorly run agency, those that do not deal ethically and honestly with birth and adoptive parents, or even an agency that is a scam. In order to avoid the heartbreak that comes with these devastating situations, make sure you follow these tips to find the ideal agency.
1: They Provide Ample Opportunity for Questions
The process of adopting a child or putting a child up for adoption can be confusing, and if you have never done it before, you probably have a lot of questions. A great agency will allow you to ask those questions, and won’t try to avoid some of the hard questions or steer you away from asking things that might make someone uncomfortable. In some cases they might even provide you with contact information for other adopters or birthparents who have been through similar situations so you can talk to someone who knows the process well.
2: They Don’t Have Complaints Against Them
It’s important to do some research on an agency before you decide to work with them, and one of the best places to begin is with the Better Business Bureau or with consumer protection organizations. These groups can help you find out if the agency you’re planning to work with has several complaints filed against it for unethical behaviors. Keep in mind that it’s difficult to please everyone, especially when dealing with something as delicate and emotional as adoption, so even exceptional agencies may have a complaint or two on file. Research the complaints and see what they are for, then look for patterns of several people filing complaints or even lawsuits filed against the agency to know whether one complaint is an outlier or it’s a common occurrence.
3: The Agency Provides Clear and Understandable Fees
If the agency you are planning to work with is hesitant to disclose their fees, or they keep giving you different numbers every time you ask, this could be a red flag. Make sure they provide you with a clear and detailed list of all the fees—in writing—that you might incur during the process, including things like:
- Legal or attorney’s fees
- Agency fees
- Baby and birth mother medical expenses
- Birth family’s living expenses
- Travel expenses
- Advertising or networking fees
- Federal application fees
- Home study fees
- Post-adoption report fees
4: The Agency Never Asks for Money Right Away
Sometime you’ll find an unscrupulous agency or individual who claims to be helping with adoption, but they will quickly demand large sums of money (sometimes $10,000 or more) before you have even had your home study. In these cases it’s best to avoid paying any fees and taking some time to research the agency further to make sure it’s not a scam.