An adoption professional can make or break your adoption experience, so it’s important to work with one that meets your needs. While the adoption process does take time and patience with any agency, adopting a child — or placing a child for adoption — can be made even more difficult and time-consuming if you are unhappy with the adoption professional you’re working with.

If you are considering adoption as a prospective birth mother, it’s important to know that you are always in charge of this process, and your wishes should always be respected during your adoption journey. That means you can change your mind about many aspects of your adoption plan at any point in the process — whether that’s changing adoptive families or considering a new adoption professional altogether. To make changes to your adoption plan, you can always call American Adoptions’ free, 24/7 hotline at 1-800-ADOPTION.

However, if you are an adoptive family, switching adoption professionals is a big decision to make. On one hand, it could improve your overall adoption experience — but, on the other, it could also end up adding time and expense to the process. So, how do you know whether making the change is right for you?

We’ve outlined some things to consider here.

What to Think About Before You Make the Change

Ultimately, it is up to a prospective birth mother to see your adoption profile and determine that you will be the best possible parents to her child — something that you (and your adoption professional) don’t have much control over. However, there are some factors you can control that may influence your adoption wait time.

Before making any rash decisions to switch adoption agencies, it is worth taking a look at your own adoption plan. No matter which adoption professional you are working with, it is in your best interest to be as open as possible in your preferences for an adopted child; the more open you are, the more exposure your profile will get, and the more likely you are to be chosen for an adoption opportunity. Ask yourself:

  • Could you consider opening up to children of different races or race combinations?
  • Are you being as flexible as you can with your adoption budget?
  • Have you talked to a pediatrician to determine what you’re comfortable with in terms of medical history and substance exposure?
  • Is there anything else you can do to increase your “pool” of potential adoption opportunities?
  • Is your adoption profile professional and attractive? Does it express your genuine care for prospective birth parents and your excitement to become parents through adoption?
  • Does your adoption profile need to be changed or updated to attract more potential birth mothers?

Before disrupting your current adoption process to choose a new adoption agency, it’s important to do some self-evaluation and determine that you have done everything you can to ensure you will have a positive adoption experience. Only once you have spent some time reflecting on these questions should you start seriously considering switching adoption professionals.

Signs It Might be Time to Switch Professionals

If, after considering your own adoption plan, you are still unhappy with the services you’re receiving, it might be time to switch to an agency that truly has your best interests at heart. Look for the following signs to determine when making a change might be right for you:

  • You’ve waited a very, very long time and have received little interest in your profile: If your profile has been shown to several prospective birth mothers but hasn’t been selected, it may be time to look at re-doing your profile. But if your profile has only been shown a few times after several years, it may be worth switching to an agency with shorter wait times. Ask your current professional (and any prospective adoption agencies you’re considering) about the marketing tools they use and the services they offer. Do they work with a professional media company to produce high-quality adoption profiles? What do they do to reach prospective birth parents online and through traditional advertising? Do they market to expectant mothers across the country, or only in one or two states? The more professional and expansive the agency’s marketing and outreach efforts, the more likely you are to adopt within a shorter timeframe.
  • Hidden or recurring fees keep popping up: Look for an agency that lays everything out on the table from the very beginning, and remember that cheaper estimates may mean more hidden fees later on in the process. Professionals may underestimate costs of certain services, charge for certain services separately, or simply not offer certain important services at all. Advertising fees, for example, may be considered a variable expense with some adoption professionals. This means that a long wait to find a birth mother could result in excessive advertising costs for the adoptive family. An adoption professional should go out of their way to make variable expenses as minimal as possible, and the best adoption professionals will also over financial protection in the event of an adoption disruption. Avoid exorbitant fees by preparing a list of cost-related questions to ask an adoption professional before agreeing to work with them.
  • They don’t allow you to communicate with the adoptive family or potential birth mother directly: Open adoptions are on the rise, so it’s important to start building a relationship with an adoptive family or prospective birth parent pre-placement. When an agency controls all your communication, it keeps you from forming a bond and determining whether or not the other party is truly the best fit for your family.
  • The professional is more focused on child finding than social services: Particularly if you are working with an adoption facilitator or searching for adoption opportunities independently through a paid profile listing site, you might find that you don’t have the guidance and support you need beyond the matching process. These professionals are often more focused on advertising than anything else, and often don’t provide the same screening, support and case management services that full-service, licensed adoption agencies can — services that are essential to a positive adoption experience.

Deciding to switch adoption agencies won’t be a black-and-white decision. Though changing professionals may seem like a sure way to adopt your child faster, it’s also important to understand the potential negatives of altering the process of your adoption.

Pros and Cons of Switching

Making the switch to a new adoption professional may put you on the path toward a faster adoption that meets more of your needs as a family. Finding an agency that allows for more adoption opportunities and open communication can help adoptive families build stronger relationships with birth parents sooner, which may allow for a smoother family dynamic later on. But while making the switch may seem like the easier way to move forward with an adoption, it isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone.

Switching your adoption professional may mean you will be out of the money you have already spent with them — make sure you talk to your current adoption professional to understand which fees are refundable and which are not. Shorter wait times are only an estimate, and swapping out your agency could just lead to more waiting, or to starting your adoption process over again.

Depending on the new professional you choose, you may need to redo your home study to meet different requirements, or you may have to reformat your adoption profile to fit within the agency’s parameters. This can be expensive and time-consuming, so it’s important to ask about these changes before making the choice to switch.

How to Switch Agencies

If switching to a new agency seems like the right decision for you, follow these steps to ensure that you’re moving forward with the adoption process in the best way possible for you:

  • Do your research: Look into other agencies and decide which ones would be worth making a change. Choose an agency that has high success rates and offers good adoption education and post-adoption services. Look into differences in cost and ensure that you are financially ready to hire a new professional.
  • Ask questions: What are the longest, shortest, and average wait times in the last year for the specific parameters you’re looking for? Understand the realities of what a new agency can provide and stay realistic in your expectations of switching.
  • Speak with your current adoption professional: The specific steps of switching agencies will depend on the agency you are already working with.
  • Look into working with multiple agencies: If you have a big enough budget, working with more than one agency can help adoptive families get more exposure on their profile (without having to switch over to a new agency entirely).

If you are prepared for the financial commitment of hiring a new adoption professional and are confident in your new agency’s ability to meet more of your needs as a family, switching agencies can entirely change your adoption experience for the better.

To learn more about how to switch to American Adoptions, call 1-800-ADOPTION today or request free adoption information.