Choosing an Adoption Agency
Dear expectant parents,
I'm Chuck Johnson, the president and CEO of National Council For Adoption. As a non-profit organization, our mission is to provide accurate, unbiased, and up-to-date resources to anyone who wants to learn more about adoption.
If you're facing an unintended pregnancy, you're probably stressed and are struggling to find trustworthy information about your options. We're here to help. Start by visiting our FAQs, learning the adoption process, and browsing some real-life adoption stories.
But our website is just the beginning! If you're considering adoption—even a little bit—your first step should be to talk to a real person at an adoption agency.
Here is some advice I've compiled over the years to help you choose an adoption agency that's right for you.
- NCFA believes that adoption should always have the child's best interests at heart, but your wellbeing is incredibly important, too. Connect with an agency where you feel heard and supported.
- A good adoption agency has obligations to both expectant parents considering adoption and prospective adoptive parents. Agencies can have competing interests, so truly serving both types of clients—and the child, first and foremost—requires a strong ethical commitment and quality counseling services.
- You should be able to receive quality support services and adoption-related counseling at any time—while you're considering adoption; up until placement; and even years after an adoption is finalized.
- Expectant parents should always be free from any coercion or pressure to place your child. You have the right to parent your children, the right to change your minds at any point within the time frame prescribed by state law, and the right to freely and fully consider your options without pressure from the agency, prospective adoptive parents, or any other outside party.
- The rights of expectant parents and birth parents should always be clearly communicated by a placement agency.
- A good adoption agency respects and honors expectant parents considering adoption, and honors the promises made to birth mothers and fathers.
- A good adoption agency's job is to counsel you in your decision. You should never be presented with a bill from the agency for services or counseling, even if you choose not to place your child.
As you search for an adoption agency, keep my seven tips in mind. No matter your age, race, education, or income, you deserve to be served in an ethical, legal, and respectful manner. My list of suggested questions below will help you feel more confident meeting with adoption professionals.
With 18,000 infants adopted every year and more than 100 adoption agencies across the country, it's okay to feel overwhelmed at choosing the right one. Start by browsing National Council For Adoption's network of member adoption agencies, attorneys, and resource organizations here. If adoption agencies in your area don't feel right, try expanding your search farther. It's not uncommon for expectant parents or adoptive parents to choose adoption agencies outside of their homestate. Just be sure to ask if laws or birth parent rights are different in that state.
I wish you peace in the face of uncertainty. Please feel free to call our office at 703-299-6633 (Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm) if you're feeling anxious and need help. We're happy to answer your questions.
When you meet with an agency, here are some good questions to ask.
- What does the agency offer in terms of basic education about adoption, to help an expectant parent make her decision?
- What does the agency offer in terms of options counseling and support for pregnant clients?
- What does the agency offer in terms of post-placement services, if a parent chooses to place her child for adoption?
- Are there programs, support, and services for expectant fathers as well as expectant mothers?
- How quickly does the agency respond to questions or requests for information?
- What educational materials, books, websites, community organizations, etc. does the agency recommend to expectant parents considering adoption?
- How much input can an expectant parent have in selecting a prospective adoptive family for her child?
- How does the agency view and communicate birth parent rights?
- How does the agency facilitate contact and communication between birth and adoptive families after a placement?
- Can the agency provide any opportunities to speak with birth parents who have placed children through the agency?
- How does the agency support birth parents over the long term?
- What will/must be communicated to the expectant father? Who is responsible for this communication and what forms may it take (mail, email, in-person meetings, etc.)?
- What are the state laws under which the agency must operate?
- What changes are there in the law if I give birth or place my child in a different state? Will my rights and the way my agency or attorney supports me change if I place my child in a different state?