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What to Look for in Adoption Agencies

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I recently asked our on-line community the following 3 questions when evaluating adoption agencies.

  • When it comes to adoption agencies what should people look for or out for?

  • What experiences have you had as an adoptive parent or birth parent?

  • What do you want others to learn from your experiences?

One of our forum hosts and a birth mother, Southernroots and forum member and adoptive parent, LeslieP10 answer.

Warning Signs

  • Big Budgets and Recruiting - Adoption agencies that advertise big budgets to "recruit" birth mothers. This feels like the adoption agency is aggressive and more likely to pressure young women.

  • Housing for Birth Mothers - Adoption agencies that advertise luxurious quarters for pregnant women to stay during their pregnancies. Not only does this seem like another way to recruit young women but it also indicates that they may be making huge profits on adoption to have fancy housing available for young women. Also, providing housing, etc. may make young pregnant women feel indebted and unable to change their minds about relinquishment.

  • Lack of Post Adoption Support - Adoption agencies that provide little or no post-adoption education or support.

  • Glowing "Testimonials" - Adoption agencies with only positive and glowing "testimonials" of other young birth mothers who relate how well adoption has worked for them. Better to ask women who have been birth mothers for many years and have a more accurate view of the long-term affects.

  • The Fairy Tale - Does the adoption agency talk about how adoption is a "win-win" solution for all parties involved while ignoring the issues all involved will face? Do they overly glamorizing adoption as a fairy tale perfect solution?

Positive Signs

  • More Than One Option - Adoption agencies that really encourage and help young women examine all their options before relinquishing and that repeatedly advise them that they can change their minds.

  • Legal Rights - Adoption agencies that advise young women considering adoption of their true legal rights in regards to the adoption, such as the time period they have to change their mind.

  • Open Adoption as an Option - An adoption agency that is committed to open adoption and can provide lots of support and education around that.

  • Understanding of Adoption - Adoption agencies that seem to understand the complexities of adoption and are honest about it.

  • Self-sufficiency of Birth Parents - An adoption agency that encourages self-sufficiency for parents considering placing and work to make that a reality. This would help parents who decide they want to parent to have more options in doing so. It helps parents who decide they want to place and then change their minds to not get into the trap of feeling like they "owe" prospective adoptive parents anything because money was paid out on their behalf. It helps parents who do place to not fall into the sense of being pampered and cared for before the birth of the baby and then all support being pulled out from them once the birth has occurred.

  • Placing Percentages - An adoption agency where a very small proportion of women or families who walk through the door decide to place their children for adoption. If the proportion is low, then it probably means that the agency is doing a pretty good job of encouraging the parent(s) to really look at their options and to parent if at all possible. A definite consequence of that is that there should also be a low "fail" rate (for lack of better words). Because if parents are truly encouraged to parent, then if they do decide to place they most likely are very determined that this is what they really want to do.

"I believe that there is a greater likelihood that a birth mother will not change her mind and will function better after the relinquishment if she is well informed and making her decision freely. Therefore, it is in the best interest of all if a woman considering relinquishment is given honest, unbiased information, and not subjected to any undue pressure when considering relinquishment.” ~ Southernroots

An Adoption Agency Experience

Here is forum member, Lebo3's, account of her visit with an adoption agency -

"When my husband and I first started looking into domestic adoption we went to an information session given by a recommended and "reputable" agency in our area. This agency is large, with many offices nationwide.

Things that made us uneasy and led us to decide not to use this agency:

  • The agency rep repeatedly referring to all pregnant women who contacted them as "birthmothers" - remember these are women who are exploring adoption, not committed to it and definitely have not placed their children.

  • When asked about this, the agency rep said that it is the agency's policy to refer to all potential birthmoms/birthfamilies as birthparents.
  • The agency rep did not have any stats on the percentage of women/families who ultimately chose to place vs those that chose to parent, nor did she think she could get them until we signed with them.

  • The agency rep, obviously tired of our questions, responded to our additional questions by saying, "Don't worry, you'll get a baby".

  • One of the reasons this agency was so often recommended was that they advertise that they have a lot of counseling available for the birthparents, both pre- and post-placement. I am scared to think how they might be counseling these people!"

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