Whether you are a potential Adoptive Family or Birth Parents looking to create an adoption plan for your child, you should be well assured of the quality of the agency or other adoption professionals you are choosing. While you will definitely have questions related to your specific situation, you might not necessarily know what you should expect of your adoption professionals.
Regardless of your situation, there are universal standards, practices, and general ideas that they should hold themselves to, and they can also give you information that will help you get the most out of your adoption experience. You don’t want to be surprised later on, after you have already invested in a certain path. You want to put your valuable time and money into where it counts.
With that in mind, here are some questions you should definitely ask your adoption professional:
The Wait List
- What does the waiting list look like?
- How long does one typically have to wait before even being considered?
- How is this waitlist managed and how often is it updated?
These questions can help you gauge the time you may have to prepare for your new child physically, mentally, and financially.
Compliance with State Regulations
- Is there an attorney licensed by the State Bar on staff?
- For agencies that are held to a lower standard than law centers/firms, is there a person from the Department of Social Services on staff? If not, what is their relationship to the Department?
- Independently, you should also check and see if the adoption entity has a negative record with the State Bar or Department of Social Services.
These questions can help you decide if the professional or agency is serious with their practice and legitimate with the state regulations.
- What counseling services do you offer? Is it free for Birth Parents, or does it come at an additional cost to the Adoptive Family?
- What are the qualifications of the available counselors?
- Does the counseling offered to the Birth Mother extend to options outside of adoption?
Counseling will help ease the tensions often found in adoption, such as commitment issues, financial stress, and emotional wellness. Ensuring that your professional has these resources makes the adoption process healthier for everyone.
- Can the Birth Parents get into contact with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
- And for the family, how often can you get into contact with the Birth Parents or adoption entity? How often will they contact you, and will they frequently give you updates about the status of the matching process?
- What are their preferred means of communication, and how long does it usually take to get a response?
Communication is the number one way to stimulate a good relationship. Keeping a wholesome connection with both the Birth Parents, when applicable, and the adoption professional is essential for a happy and successful adoption.
Fees and Expenses
- How much will the entire process cost?
- Do you pay everything up front, or will bills be added on as you progress through the adoption process?
- Is everything absolutely free for the Birth Parents? How much will you have to pay for the Birth Mother’s expenses, on average?
- Are the costs required of the Adoptive Family on a sliding scale based on income, or are they a flat rate for everyone across the board?
- Is there a fee for the home study?
- Do they supply a cogent breakdown of all fees and costs of the program prior to entry?
Use these questions to ascertain if the adoption entity has any unadvertised hidden costs, or even if, worstcasescenario, they may be trying to scam you.
Are you eligible to adopt, given your:
- Socio-economic status?
- Status as a newly married couple?
- Status as partnered but not married?
- Status as a single parent?
- Gender identities and/or expressions?
- History of serious diseases or illnesses?
- Religious identity?
- Military status?
Some or all of these things could be a consideration with some adoption entities, so make sure you understand whether you are eligible to adopt, or whether you might have to undergo a longer wait time as a result of one or more of these factors. You should also ask about the screening procedures Adoptive Families must go through, as they usually vary at least slightly from organization to organization.
The Birth Parents
- How does the adoption entity find birth parents?
- How are they taken care of prior to the adoption process? Are they given post- adoption support as well?
- How are Birth Mothers evaluated?
- How are Birth Mothers matched with Adoptive Families?
- What happens if we decline a Birth Mother’s match?
- What happens if a Birth Mother changes her mind?
Knowing basic information about the Birth Parents can help you better choose a child or better prepare your home for the child.
- Will you be able to choose the sex, race, or age of the child?
- If adopting a child who has already been born, do you get to choose or will you know the age of the child?
Asking specification about the child can help you better prepare physically and mentally for their highly anticipated arrival.
Open vs. Closed
- Do you offer open adoptions or only closed adoptions?
- To what extent does the adoption entity facilitate what kind of relationship the Birth Parents can have with the Adoptive Families?
- What do most Birth Mothers tend to expect out of the process?
Knowing what kind of relationship you will have with your child’s birth family can help open up communication between parties that will better suit the needs of the child and both sets of parents involved.
- Are they able to provide you with extensive references from former families who have adopted through the adoption entity?
- Are these references from reliable sources?
- Are you given the ability to contact these former clients?
Adoption is a difficult process, so by having additional support can be beneficial to mentally and physically prepare during this process. Former Adoptive Families can give advice while support groups and clinics can provide assistance. Check to see if your adoption professionals have references for Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents.
Additional Questions for International Adoptions
If you are planning on adopting internationally, you should ask all of the above questions, but you should also ask some more that are specific to adopting from international programs:
- Do you have to travel to meet your child in his or her own country? If so, does the agency cover the travel/VISA costs?
- What travel arrangements are or are not made?
- How often do I need to visit my child before finalizing my adoption?
Traveling is both timely and costly, so be being prepared for the travel will help reduce stress when it comes to the adoption process.
- How does the adoption entity ensure that the child being adopted is a documented orphan?
- What is the status of the parents rights regarding the children?
- How is the agency or adoption professional following international as well as domestic laws?
- How is the agency or adoption professional able to ensure that the child is being taken care of in their current location and what other assistance are the children given other than through adoptions?
- Do they provide financial assistance?
With international adoptions especially, it is important to do research to make sure that the agency or adoption professional hasn’t been involved in questionable cases overseas. Many international adoption agencies also have specifications when it comes to adoption (such as marriage laws or gender laws). Thoroughly researching these specifications beforehand can help to avoid any adoption delays.
- How many children has the adoption entity placed this year?
- How long have these programs been active, and has their status as active programs ever changed?
- How many children are currently available for adoption? Is that suspect to change, whether because of regulations changing, moratoriums, or other factors?
These are generally a figure on their website, but should definitely be asked about if it is not.
Specific questions you should ask any adoption professional upon your first inquiry include:
How long have you been in business?
Adoption Network Law Center (ANLC) has been led by Kristin A.F. Yellin, Chief Counsel since 2007, and helping build families through adoption for many years prior.
Will you provide a direct person of contact throughout the process?
ANLC provides you a personal support team throughout every step Adoption Consultant, Media Coordinator, Client Liaison, and Adoption Advisor.
What is your average wait time?
ANLC’s Adopting Parents are selected by a Birth Mother, on average, within 4 to 13 months.
How many adoptions do you complete in a year?
ANLC completes approximately 200-250 adoptions on average annually.
What marketing services do you provide?
ANLC will market and advertise you through multiple nationally promoted websites PLUS provide exposure on YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest.
ANLC has prominent nationwide advertising campaigns on the leading search engines and adoption sites and has relationships with health and social services organizations to reach Birth Mothers.
ANLC will provide you a personal Media Coordinator who works with you to create a customized web and paper marketing profile.
What information will we receive about the Birth Parents?
ANLC will obtain as much information as possible about the Birth Parents’ health history, ethnicity and social background. ANLC will also seek a release from the Birth Mother to obtain her prenatal medical records.
What happens if the Birth Mother changes her mind? Do we lose the money we gave in Birth Mother support?
ANLC will continue to provide services at no additional cost if a Birth Mother changes her mind or if there are unforeseen health issues. In addition, circumstances may provide for a refund of Birth Mother Support.
ANLC is committed to providing every Adopting Family with services until a successful adoption is achieved.
How do you handle Birth Mother support for living expenses?
ANLC oversees/manages your Birth Mother support. Support for living expenses is disbursed through a client trust account, either by ANLC or through a legal entity in the Birth Mother’s state.
Do you have financing available?
ANLC will assist you in obtaining financing by taking advantage of several financing programs for your adoption.
Of course, there are many other questions you can ask, but you should have the answers to at least these questions as you go further into the adoption process. The adoptions professional should give you the answers to these questions in a direct and honest way. Any unknowns should be cleared up as soon as possible in order to avoid any misunderstanding or, worse, potentially unethical organizations trying to capitalize on your desire to adopt.