Questions to Ask Potential Adoption Agencies
I am a researcher—ask my husband. He’d probably tell you I overthink and research, well, nearly everything. So, in an effort to use my research skills (or obsessive compulsive nature?) for good, I put together some questions that I would suggest using when you are calling adoption agencies for the purpose of selecting one for your international adoption.
When you have a list of agencies you want to contact, find a quiet place, get your paper and pen ready, and get your well-charged phone in hand. Pray for discernment and wisdom, and trust that He will guide your family in the path He has called you to.
- Ask to speak to the person who directs the specific country program in which you are interested. Make a note of his or her name.
- Start open-ended- “I’d like to learn more about your X program.” Allow the agency representative to talk freely. Not only will it provide you with answers to your questions or confirmation for what you already know, it can raise issues that you might not have considered. And, it will also give you a feel for the person’s personality as well as the culture of the office, how they work, and what they value or see as important to communicate to potential adoptive families. Remember that you will be working very closely with him or her, revealing a lot about your family.
- What makes your agency different or stand out from other agencies?
- Do you have a religious affiliation? Do all the individual staff members?
- How many staff people do you have?
- Are your overseas staff contract employees or do they represent various agencies? I believe it is to families’ benefit if the overseas staff works exclusively for your agency.
- How many years has your agency been working with adoptions in this program?
- How many placements did you make in this program last year?
- Does your agency do any sort of relief programs in the country beyond arranging adoptions?
- What should we expect communication to be like? Will we receive regular phone calls or email updates while we wait?
- How do adoptive families from your agency connect? Do you offer gathering events for local families? Do you have an active yahoo group or other online community? Do you intentionally connect waiting families or families newly home with their children? This may or may not be important to you. But, it is helpful know what they offer. If you do not desire to connect with families now, you may want to later for your child’s benefit.
- Do you help families prepare their dossier?
- What type of parental training programs do you offer? Is this an additional cost? Is it required?
- How long is your current waiting list for a placement? How long would you expect we would wait? Look for obvious discrepancies between agencies. Agencies that are vastly different than others should make you ask the question why.
- Do you make the travel arrangements for me (i.e., plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc.)? Do you take care of in-country needs such as our guide, interpreter, money (e.g., orphanage donation) transfer, etc.? Not all agencies handle this the same. It is very helpful if your agency wires money for things like your orphanage donation if it is required so that you do not have to carry large sums of money on your person. And, though many people like to make their own travel arrangements, if you find that you are traveling in a hurry at the end of your wait as sometimes happens, it is a real benefit to be with an agency who does these things for you if you want them to.
- Do you work with specific agencies in my state (if the agency is not local to you) for our home study and postplacement follow-up reports?
- What is required for X program with regards to postplacement reports? What kind of follow-ups do you offer? Do you offer anything additional to the country’s requirement?
- Can you provide a description of all fees, broken down so that I can compare agencies?
- Does your agency provide options or suggestions for grants or financial assistance?
- Can you provide me with a copy of the contract prior to paying an application fee to you?
- Do you have families who have used you recently who we could call or email? Make sure these are recently formed adoptive families (families who have been home for less than 1 year) so that the information they provide to you as current as possible. The most helpful information I got about our agency and about adoption in general was from other adoptive families.
Take copious notes as you are able. Write down the answers to the questions as well as just feelings you have. Follow up with the families who have used the agency and keep those notes together.
Remember that though this may feel like an overwhelming decision, the Lord desires for you to seek Him in it and take the burden from you. And, He will bless you in your decision as you surrender it to Him.
Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children who don’t seem to appreciate her researching skills unless it involves coupons for Chick fil A or a new toy. She is a part-time editor and part-time blog-surfing junkie, always on the lookout for good resources and essays to post on this site. And, she will talk adoption with anyone willing to listen. You can learn more about their adoption story as well as follow day-to-day life on their personal blog.