Brenda has many years of experience with adoption. These are her 6 tips for finding the right adoption agency, as well as the agency she trusts whole-heartedly.
When we started to look at adoption as a way to build our family we sought out people we trusted. First, it was my friend who had just adopted her second child. She had been through the whole thing twice and I knew she could help Brad and I start this exciting journey the right way. She talked to us about the agency she went through. We felt comfortable with this agency and even more comfortable hearing her experiences so we began (this was in 1998). Not soon before we started the adoption process, an agency wide group was being formed to help support couples as they adopt. It was an amazing thing to be part of something so special and find we were not alone in our journey to parenthood. It was there we made lasting friendships that continue strong to this day….fifteen years later.
In 2002 we learned our cute niece was pregnant. She was unmarried at the time. We along with her Mom and Dad encouraged her to seek some counseling as she worked through her decisions. We encouraged her to go to the same agency we had felt good being part of. I had the opportunity to go with my niece to her first appointment. I remember feeling kind of smug and irritated. Brad and I were trying to adopt a 2nd child and had gone through more fertility treatments as well. I was irritated that my niece had the opportunity to do what I couldn’t and she wasn’t even married. All of those feelings I felt as I waited in the waiting area melted away as I was called in to sit with my niece in her first session with her counselor. I listened to a broken hearted girl who was scared and felt alone. I listened to a girl whose dreams of what life would hold were lost. I listened to a girl who reminded me of me. While our circumstances were different we both felt loss, pain and felt alone. I will never forget the feeling of chastisement I experienced as I sat there….and I deserved every bit of it. From that moment on I realized even more fully how pain may speak a different language but it stings the heart the same way in each of us. That day I was so thankful she was in the hands of people I trusted. She went on the have a positive but hard (of course) experience. She made an adoption plan for her baby boy. She met with other girls and women who were dealing with the same decisions and issues my niece was. This support from others helped her as she faced difficult moments and as she followed through with her adoption plan.
When you first start looking at adoption, you wonder where to turn and who to trust. We hear horror stories of fraud in adoptive placements and we want to make sure we are with an agency or attorney who is dotting every i and crossing every t. We want to make sure we are with someone with a big heart and who knows adoption and all of its many faucets! I know for Brad and me it was important that our agency we chose would take care of the Birth Families and those who were experiencing a crisis pregnancy. We wanted them to have all they needed.
My 6 Tips for Finding the Right Adoption Agency:
(There are more than 6, but these are the big ones, in my opinion.)
1. What type of adoption do we want to have? Domestic or Inter-country Adoption?
Knowing which type of adoption you are looking for will determine what agency’s or attorneys you will want to work with.
2. What age of child are we hoping for?
If you are open to a child that is not an infant your best option might be working with your state. Each state has children who are legally free and waiting for an adoptive home. If you are hoping for an infant then you want to check out private agencies and/or attorneys.
It is possible to adopt an infant through the foster care system in some states but you need to be willing to support the plan that is set for the child who enters your home. Plan on the child leaving until things are set in stone that they are staying. We learned about this the hard way with the first newborn we fostered. She was a beautiful African American baby girl who we fell in love with. We were told many things and had reason to hope she would be staying with us. After 8 months loving her we transitioned her over to her Dad. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but worth every moment with her. So just be prepared, think positive but be realistic. We said goodbye to 7 awesome kids (2 of them newborns) before having the opportunity to adopt our little Spencer.
3. How long has this agency or attorney been working in adoption? Are they licensed to place children?
You want to make sure the people you will be working with know the ins and outs of adoption, counseling and placing a child, birth parent work etc.
4. If you are looking at an agency find out who their attorney is they work with…do they have a good reputation?
Talk with other adoptive families and birth families to see who they worked with and what they did or didn’t like about them.
5. What does this agency do to ensure each adoptive placement is ethical?
This is so important. When it comes to placing a child for adoption every state has their own laws. You want to work with an agency who hold high standards and works to ensure each placement is legally sound.
We realized how important this was in our 3rd adoption. Some special laws came into play and if the attorneys our agency used didn’t understand those laws we could have had a unstable adoption on our hands. Every adoptive couple’s and/or birth parents nightmare!
6. What support do they offer to birth parents, expectant parents and their families who are in the middle of making decisions and what support do they offer to the hopeful adoptive couple and adoptive families?
Support was a big deal for Brad and me and for our niece, Erin. Our agency had a wonderful group which was nationwide and was founded by the manager over adoption services there. What he did for all involved in adoption was amazing. In 2004 I had the opportunity to meet this Manager, Steve Sunday, and started to work with him and others to help couples who were hoping to adopt. Brad and I have now worked with Steve for nine years. This is actually how I came to know Mariel…Steve is her Dad. Steve is the best example I can give you of a professional who understands goes beyond what is expected to help all involved. Steve has opened up his own adoption agency called Forever Bound Adoption.
If I was going to do an agency adoption today I would go with Forever Bound Adoption because I would be working with people I trust, who have a good reputation, are ethical and see the needs of all involved in the process. This is where my heart feels at home. Your agency, attorney, or maybe your state will be exactly what you need. I believe there is something inside of us that helps us know when we are in the right place. Do your homework, be honest with yourself and then listen to your heart.
You will find your right place!
* For more helpful articles on adoption, check out Mariel’s Adoption and Foster Care page, right on this blog!
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