What the Best Adoption Agencies Have in Common
5 Things to Look for
How can you find the best adoption agency to work with?
For any family considering adoption, this question is extremely important. The adoption agency who handles your placement will significantly impact your experience with adoption. This process is complicated. There are many moving parts, legal requirements and state regulations. If it’s not done right, not only will you have a bad experience, but your placement could be at risk.
So, who are the best adoption agencies, and what sets them apart? What signs can you look for in top-rated adoption agencies? What do the best domestic adoption agencies have in common?
No matter where you live or which type of adoption professional you are considering, there are certain qualities that stand out across the board. This guide may not be able to capture the entirety of what the best adoption agency will look like for your family, but the following are five key factors to look for in a professional.
1. Fully-Licensed and Full-Service
Let’s start with arguably the most important quality shared by the best adoption agencies. If you are considering an adoption professional and find out that it is not a licensed organization, this is a massive red flag. Each state has its own adoption laws and regulations. Licensed adoption agencies are reviewed by an objective third party from each state the agency is licensed in. This ensures proper conduct and adds a layer of security and protection for adoptive families, prospective birth mothers and children.
Reputable adoption agencies are licensed and fully accountable for their practices. Their work meets high ethical standards, and they can prove it. There are several types of unlicensed adoption professionals whose work is never checked by objective reviewers. Working with this type of adoption organization can leave families open to greater risk.
Following up on this, the best adoption agencies are both fully licensed and full-service. A full-service agency is equipped to support adoptive families and prospective birth mothers at every step of the adoption process. Adoption organizations that are not full-service will pass their families off to someone else at some point in the process, which can be confusing and frustrating. But this isn’t something you’ll experience at top-rated adoption agencies.
From start to finish, you can be sure that a fully licensed, full-service adoption agency provides ethical, excellent work in the adoption process.
2. 24/7 Counseling and Support
The adoption process can be challenging — for both adoptive families and prospective birth mothers. There will be moments when you need to talk to your social worker right away, and those moments don’t always happen during business hours. The best adoption agencies realize this, which is why they have 24/7 availability.
In addition to being there for the needs of adoptive families during time-sensitive moments like the hospital stay, 24/7 counseling and support may be even more important for prospective birth mothers. If an expectant mother is considering adoption and gets an answering machine instead of a kind, caring person on the phone, she is probably going to turn to other organizations who can immediately answer her questions and address her concerns. The top adoption agencies are always there for birth mothers. Whether they are just starting to consider adoption or far along in the adoption process, this kind of counseling and availability is vital, and good adoption agencies recognize that.
3. Financial Transparency and Honest Estimates
The cost of adoption is often an adoptive family’s biggest concern. The process can be expensive. The way an adoption agency handles adoption fees can tell you a lot about whether or not they are one of the best adoption agencies to work with. There are two main character traits to look for here: transparency and honesty.
The best adoption agencies won’t low-ball cost estimates to lure families in. They’ll be honest about the likely cost and open about exactly what that cost is paying for. Cost estimates from top-rated adoption agencies include the total estimated living, medical, legal and administrative expenses. If you talk to five adoption professionals and one of them gives you a cost estimate that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for hidden fees or agency fees that increase as the adoption goes on.
Reputable adoption agencies will give you the complete picture up-front when it comes to the cost associated with adoption.
4. Financial Protection for Adoptive Families
Along with being transparent about costs, good adoption agencies will protect the financial investment of hopeful adoptive families. Adoptive families can experience adoption disruptions for a variety of reasons. While this is not incredibly common, it is possible. There is an emotional loss when an adoption disruption occurs. But, depending on the adoption agency, there doesn’t have to be a financial loss.
The best adoption agencies have a comprehensive risk-sharing program that protects the investments of adoptive families in the case of an adoption disruption. These adoption agencies will refund eligible adoption expenses back to the family, not just keep the money by “rolling it over” into future potential adoption opportunities. Unfortunately, these rollover policies are much more common than true risk-sharing programs. But the best adoption agencies will protect the adoptive family’s investment by refunding money directly to them in the event of a disruption. Look for an agency whose risk-sharing program will cover most, if not all, money invested in an adoption opportunity, regardless of how far along you are in the process and how many disruptions you experience.
5. Nationwide Advertising
“Advertising” in adoption is the process of showing adoptive family profiles to prospective birth mothers and finding adoption opportunities for adoptive families. The best adoption agencies invest significantly in advertising and typically have the ability to advertise across the country. This means that the adoptive families will be shown to prospective birth mothers throughout the U.S., increasing the chances of finding the right adoption opportunity in a timely manner. Advertising is an afterthought for some adoption professionals, but it is treated as a vital part of the process by the top adoption agencies, and they can offer lower adoption wait times as a result.
While there are many other qualities to look for in the best domestic adoption agencies, these five factors are a good place to start. If you have more questions about finding top-rated adoption agencies, or about the benefits of working with American Adoptions, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time or request more information about adoption.
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