Questions to Ask An Adoption Professional

Below, you’ll find a general outline of questions for adoption professionals. Please carefully research the adoption professionals you consider and also ask them adoption questions with information specific to their policies and procedures.

Questions to Ask ALL Adoption Professionals:

  1. How many adoptive families do you have on your waiting list? How do you manage this list and wait times for adoptive families?
  2. Annually, how many of your adoptions are completed in other states?
  3. Does the state in which you are licensed come to your offices and review your files, personnel records and make sure your organization is complying with state law and regulations? 
  4. How many full-time staff members do you have on staff?
  5. Do you have a Social Service Department on staff? How many are on staff? Can you provide me their credentials? Are they licensed by the state? 
  6. If you only have one or two staff members, what happens if they retire, quit, become seriously ill, take a vacation, etc.?
  7. If you don’t have a social service department, who evaluates your birth mothers? How are they qualified to do so?
  8. What is the estimated cost to join your organization or agency? Does that include only successful adoption cost estimates? 
  9. How much money can I lose in living and medical expenses if a birth mother changes her mind?
  10. Have you ever had a client lose more than $10,000 or more in failed adoption expenses? Will you put that in writing and send it to me?
  11. Do your quoted fees include living, medical and legal expenses?
  12. What are typical amounts of living expenses your birth mothers need?
  13. Do your up-front advertising fees expire?
  14. Will I have to interact directly with the birth mother providing my contact information to her?
  15. Do you answer your phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week for potential birth mothers? (Pick up the phone and call them on Saturday or Sunday evening to see if they are doing everything they can with your advertising dollar.)
  16. Do you maintain and regulate pictures and letters correspondence with birth parents after the adoptive placement?  
  17. Do you handle the entire adoption process from A to Z? 

Questions to Ask Adoption Facilitators and Law Centers:

  1. How many placements did you complete last year?
  2. Is your organization certified or licensed? By how many states?
  3. If you remove yourself once the birth mother selects our family, how do you verify the quality of work provided by the other adoption professional?
  4. If you remove yourself from the process, once we are referred to another adoption professional or law firm, how is your organization helpful when the birth mother is wavering? 
  5. Is there any financial penalty if we decline a birth mother?
  6. How much money can I lose to the other adoption professional if the adoption doesn’t work out?
  7. Are any of your up-front fees at risk? Is there any point in time where I would be required to pay the up-front fee again?
  8. Are you licensed as a facilitator in your state? Is any government body reviewing whether you should be licensed as a facilitator?
  9. If you are not licensed to perform adoptions in other states, then how do you know the complexities and challenges in other states? For law centers, if your attorney is the expert, what happens if he/she retires?
  10. How do I know your organization isn’t at risk of going out of business?
  11. If you typically aren’t the organization handling my case, how does joining your organization benefit me? 
  12. If I do not adopt within your timeframe, will I have to pay more money for additional advertising? If so, how long is my contract valid before I have to renew services with you?

Questions to Ask Facilitators Only:

  1. What does your organization do? If you advertise and locate birth mothers and then refer me to an adoption professional in the birth mother’s state, who takes it over from there? 
  2. Since being licensed as a facilitator in your state does not mean anyone reviews or inspects your files, what is to prevent your organization from merely shutting down and starting over?

Questions to Ask Law Centers Only:

  1. Is your law center able to practice law in other states?
  2. Does the attorney who owns your law center discuss our case with the law firms you will refer our case to? How involved is this attorney in our case?  
  3. If you have more than 100 cases, how are you able to handle so many cases? (The top adoption attorneys in the United States are typically involved in 40-50 adoptions annually. It keeps them very busy.)
  4. If you refer our case to another law firm, and if you aren’t licensed to perform services in that state then I assume you aren’t able to stay involved in the process? 
  5. How long has this attorney been running your law center? How experienced were they previously in adoption?
  6. Since Bar certification does not include a review or inspection of your adoption files, and since any attorney can start another unregulated law center, what is to prevent your organization from merely shutting down and starting another one if you are sued by your clients?
  7. How are you different from a facilitator?
  8. Can I adopt more quickly through your organization than with a national agency? How can I independently verify your wait time estimates?
  9. Can you give me the percentage of birth parents working with your agency who decide to parent?

Questions to Ask Law Firms Only:

  1. How many attorneys on your staff handle the adoption legal work?
  2. If you have other attorneys involved, can you share their adoption experience?
  3. What percentage of your practice is adoption legal work? How do you balance your other cases when an adoption case is time-sensitive? What happens if four adoptions occur on the same day? 
  4. What is your hourly rate? Is the hourly rate at risk if the birth mother changes her mind? 
  5. Does your law firm find all the birth mothers, or do you have your clients advertise on their own?
  6. Is your law firm licensed in more than one state?
  7. Is there a time when your law firm would not be able to represent us? 
  8. Who handles our case if you become sick or take a vacation? How will that impact our ability to adopt through you?
  9. Can I adopt more quickly through your organization than with a national agency? How can I independently verify your wait time estimates?
  10. Can you give me the percentage of birth parents working with your agency who decide to parent?
  11. Annually, how many of your adoptions are completed in other states?

Questions to Ask Law Firms, Local/Regional Adoption Agencies and National Adoption Agencies:

  1. Do you have clients advertise in states in which you are not licensed? Do you use another law firm to handle the process in that other state? Do they charge an hourly rate? Is that hourly rate at risk if the birth mother changes her mind?
  2. How many adoptions did you complete last year? In how many did you locate the birth mother? In how many did your clients’ own advertising locate a birth mother?
  3. How much do you suggest spending a month on advertising? Is that at-risk money if an adoption doesn’t work out? (Keep in mind that the largest national agencies buy advertisements at a discount, track their marketing success, have qualified counselors talking to birth mothers, have major networking contacts and still spend an average of $8,000 to $10,000 in advertising for each successful adoption. How or why can a small agency or individual family expect to spend less?)
  4. How many clients in the past year quit advertising because it didn’t work?

Questions to Ask Local/Regional and National Adoption Agencies:

  1. Are your agency fees fixed or charged on an hourly basis? Are any of your agency fees at risk if the birth mother changes her mind?
  2. What percentage of your agency's practice is locating birth mothers?
  3. How many birth mothers who placed their child through your agency did your agency locate last year?
  4. Does your agency find all the birth mothers, or do you have your clients advertise on their own?
  5. How much of your adoption practice comprises your home study services?
  6. Is your agency licensed in more than one state?
  7. How many adoptions where you have located the birth mother have you completed in the past five years? (This will give you an idea if placement numbers are consistent.)
  8. In how many adoptions—not home studies—has your social work department evaluated and worked with birth parents? 
  9. Do you have certain requirements for families joining your agency (i.e. kids in the home, age, religious preference)? If so, why? Can these factors affect my wait time with your agency?
  10. Can I work with multiple agencies?
  11. What percentage of families adopt within your estimated wait time? 
  12. Do you charge additional fees for special services such as ICPC or extra counseling?

Questions for National Adoption Agencies Only:

  1. If I adopt from a different state than where I reside, will I have to get my own attorney? What about ICPC? Is that included in the cost estimates you provide?
  2. How many of your adoption are completed in other states?

 





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