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Pondering International Adoption? 10 Tips on Choosing an Agency.

How to Choose the Right Adoption AgencyOne of the biggest decisions to make when thinking about adoption is choosing the right agency. It’s just as important as choosing a doctor you feel comfortable with for your pregnancy – perhaps even more so. You are trusting the people who work there to match you with the right child, handle your money responsibly, be honest and upfront about tough news, and prepare you for the long road ahead.

It’s a lot to ask, so the best thing to do is get prepared beforehand. You want to have as much confidence as possible in your choice of an agency, because your faith in it will be tested at some points.

Below are tips we used personally in choosing ours, as well as some others have recommended to me. Even if you already have your agency picked, some of these ideas can still be used now. Have you asked about if one of their employees will travel with you to pick up your child? Are you getting prepared on your end by reading books on adoption, talking to friends, calling your agency with questions? Do you know all the fees you’ll be paying – even the ones not obvious?

I break down what to look for, what to expect, and what responsibilities both you and the agency owe each other for a mutually beneficial relationship. When the adoption is finalized, one of the goals is to look back fondly at the time spent with the people who helped bring your child to your family.


  • Get Familiar With the Adoption Process 1 of 10
    Get Familiar With the Adoption Process
    It helps tremendously to know the terms and basic timeline of an international adoption before starting down that road. Pick up books about it at your local library, borrow them from a friend who has adopted, or purchase some online to start building your own collection. A variety is best - try to have some about adopting children of a different race, working with different countries, adopting a certain age, and how to pay for adoption - just to name a few subjects.
  • Talk to Other People Who Have Adopted 2 of 10
    Talk to Other People Who Have Adopted
    Ask around if you don't know anyone directly. Chances are that someone you know can direct you to a friend or family member who has been through an international adoption. Contact other bloggers who have adopted, and asks for recommendations of agencies. Throw names out on Facebook to see if you get feedback. Someone might be willing to share with you what agency not to deal with and why, or what they loved about the one they worked with.
    Photo Credit: Morgue Files
  • Call Prospective Agencies 3 of 10
    Call Prospective Agencies
    Talk to the director of the program you're interested in directly if possible. They should be warm, encouraging, and open to questions. They should never push for a decision or make you feel guilty over a personal preference in country or age of child. A good agency will offer help and guidance to make sure both of you are a great fit for what you need and offer.
    Photo Credit: Morgue Files
  • Think Global 4 of 10
    Think Global
    It can be awkward to "pick" a country when so many children are in need of homes. But it has to be done - no agency can qualify you for every country open to adoption because of all the different laws each country has. No agency works with every country either. Think of several that you might know, are interested in knowing about, or simply see a great need in. Find agencies that offer programs for these, and make sure they are still open and approved.
    Photo Credit: Morgue Files
  • Talk Money 5 of 10
    Talk Money
    The agency we chose listed all of their fees openly - both on their site and in our agreement. Really and truly - this is what you want to see. An agency needs to be an open book about why they charge what they do, where those fees go, and what extra expenses may come up in the process. Most (if not all) agencies that provide international adoption services need to be non-profit.
    Photo Credit: Morgue Files
  • Read the Agreement 6 of 10
    Read the Agreement
    Read it, have your partner read it, have a friend read it, have a lawyer read it. Everything should make sense and be clearly understood and defined. You should know what both you and the agency can terminate for, what the fees are, what they expect of you, and what services they provide along the way and perhaps even after the adoption is finalized.
    Photo Credit: Morgue Files
  • Check Their Certification 7 of 10
    Check Their Certification
    Agencies should have some kind of license and/or accreditation to themselves. One to look for is the COA (Counsel on Accreditation).
  • Ask About Travel 8 of 10
    Ask About Travel
    When you travel to pick up your child - what happens? Does someone from the agency escort you? Is there a program in place once you are there to help guide the process? Our agency helps with travel plans, has an employee from their Korea office pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel (or we may stay on the military base there). They also schedule a half day tour of Korea and take us to and from the home where our child lives with his or her foster parents until we can have them. Be sure to know what your agency provides before signing on with them.
    Photo Credit: Morgue Files
  • Post-Placement Services 9 of 10
    Post-Placement Services
    After your child is home and settled, what does your agency do? Follow ups? Home visits still? (Korea requires 3 home visits after bringing the child back.) Do they offer any kind of cultural camp as the child gets older? What about services if something happens and you aren't sure how to handle it? These should be listed in writing and ideally on the agencies' site.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Fall in Love 10 of 10
    Fall in Love
    You should feel 100% comfortable with the agency and it's employees. Highly recommended, licensed, non-profit, and longstanding should be just a few of the ideal traits you're looking for. It's a big deal and a real relationship you'll form - make sure what you chose is one you know you can depend on no matter what lies ahead in the tumultuous adoption process.

Top Photo Credit: Debbie Weldon via Photobucket

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Diana blogs on raising a toddler daughter, the loss of her twin boys, and their families’ Korean adoption in progress on the aptly named Hormonal Imbalances.

Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter and Facebook, and pinning working hard on Pinterest.

MORE FROM DIANA:

Just How Much Does Adoption Really Cost?

Bumps in the Road: Why Adoption Takes So Long

14 Unique and Eye Catching Adoption Finds From Etsy.com/a>

The Homestudy Paperwork is Done and We Might Get Two Kids!

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