Ensuring you are working with an ethical adoption center and understanding what are the best adoption centers near me is critical to your adoption journey as a birth mother or expectant parent. The importance of choosing to place your child is one of the biggest decisions you may ever make. A quality adoption center that is supportive of expectant mothers and birth fathers is key to the process. Adoption.com has a wonderful guide in choosing a great adoption agency as an expectant parent. A great adoption center will make you, as a birth parent, feel supported and informed as you move through the process of adoption. 

As the former Executive Director of Joint Council on International Children’s Services, our role was to create and uphold a Standards of Practice for adoption agencies and centers so that prospective adoptive parents and expectant parents could have an understanding of whether an adoption center is a moral, ethic adoption center and also what are the best adoption centers near me. With Joint Council on International Children’s Services no longer in existence, having shut its doors in 2015, there is no trade association or central organization ensuring agencies are ethical and in good standing (this only exists for international adoption agencies who are completing adoptions from countries party to the Hague Convention).  

Offering a Concierge of Services for Expectant Mothers

In understanding what are the best adoption centers near you as you formulate an adoption plan or decide whether to place your child for adoption, your most important question is how the centers treat expectant parents and the children. Does the adoption center offer adequate counseling for birth mothers and fathers, if applicable? Does the center help a birth mother understand all of her options when deciding to place her child? Does the adoption center provide expectant parents with access to many resources? Does the adoption center provide ongoing counseling after placement and for how long? As the mother of your future child, you want to ensure she is being treated well, fairly, and without coercion. If at any point in your process you feel coerced or pressured to place your child, my advice is to stop working with that adoption center. The best adoption centers near you will ensure you feel this is your decision—as it is your decision and your decision alone to place your child for adoption.

What Services do Adoption Centers Provide for Expectant Parents? 

How do adoption centers work after you decide to move forward with an adoption plan? What services do adoption centers provide for expectant parents?

Most adoption centers specializing in private domestic adoptions (also facilitating international adoptions for prospective adoptive parents) and especially those who help support the birth parents and facilitate the adoption of the birth child by the prospective adoptive parents, will offer an array of different services for birth mothers. The best adoption centers near you will offer a concierge of services for you to take advantage of. These services will be specific for each member of the adoption triad—the birth mother or birth parents, the child and the prospective adoptive parents or family.  

These services provided by each respective adoption center will differ from center to center, but most are the same to meet the requirements and regulations within your respective state.  

The first service the best adoption centers will provide you as a birth mother is obtaining information for every step of the journey. This may feel like a lot of information at once, but do not be overwhelmed. Their job is to make it easy for you to understand and make the best decision for you and your baby. This information may include timelines on the process, expenses you may receive from the prospective adoptive parents or center as a birth parent, information on legal paperwork necessary for the completion of the adoption, and counseling resources both during and after placement. These are just a few of the resources an adoption center will provide you. The adoption center’s goal is to ensure you have all of the information you need to make the best choice for you and your baby. The best adoption centers want to be sure you have all of the information. If you feel like you do not have an understanding of something or that your questions are not being answered by the center, also do not be afraid of changing adoption centers at any point in the process. You will create a list of potential adoption centers and can just go back to that list to interview others—but more on that later. You want this relationship between you and the adoption center you choose to help facilitate the placement of your baby to be one where you feel informed, safe, free to make your own choices, and secure.  

Once the adoption center has given you all of the information on the process for you and your baby, the adoption center you choose will work with you to help you decide on the best next steps in meeting with prospective adoptive families you may choose as your child’s adoptive parents. The best adoption centers which are licensed and specialize in facilitating adoptions for both the birth mother and/or father and prospective adoptive parents will work with the prospective adoptive parents to create a profile or book of letters, photos, and information. The profile the adoption center collects on the prospective adoptive family is conclusive. The prospective adoptive parents will have gone through the first step in the process with the adoption center which is to complete a home study. The home study needs to be done by licensed social workers or licensed adoption professionals in their state (dependent on licensing requirements). Many times, the adoption center with whom the prospective adoptive is using to match them with the birth mother and facilitate the adoption will have also complete the home study. The home study is exhaustive in ensuring the home and family are safe and prepared for adopting a child. The prospective adoptive parents will need to complete a number of hours of parenting training, complete numerous interviews with the social worker, and have visits to their home to ensure it is safe and prepared for a child. The home study also includes recommendations from their place of worship, the prospective adoptive parents’ employers, neighbors, friends, extended family, and teachers of children in the home, if applicable. Every adult living in the home is interviewed, as well as any children over a certain age, dependent on the state. All adults will complete an FBI live scan background check and a background check in each county in which they have lived for the last certain number of years or since age 18. The home study will also include driving records, financials, medical, education, and employment histories that are also provided and included in the home study report. The best adoption centers will ensure this home study is very inclusive and exhaustive in the information it provides to ensure your baby will thrive and be safe in the home and family.

After the adoption center completes the home study, they will work with the prospective adoptive family on building their profile and photo pages for your viewing. Once you have chosen one or a few sets of prospective adoptive parents with whom you would like to interview,  the adoption center with which you are working will act as an intermediary and help facilitate that first conversation unless you already met the family through an online profile or photolisting. The adoption center will work with you as you navigate that process of connecting with and interviewing prospective parents for your child. The center makes the process as easy and stress-free as possible for you.

Once you have chosen an adoptive family for your child, the adoption center will work with you on the legal paperwork, negotiating what expenses will be covered by the prospective adoptive family (allowable by your respective state) during your pregnancy and other timelines. The center will help you get your questions answered throughout your pregnancy and help you work through each step of the process.

Once you are in labor, the adoption center social worker will let the prospective adoptive parents know, if you have not already, and will work with you to create a birth plan for you and your child. The social worker will ensure your wishes are communicated with the prospective adoptive parents during the pregnancy and birth. The social worker will also be there to help you complete the relinquishment paperwork when and if you are ready for that. Once those papers are signed, your agency will also work with you through the process and emotions that may arise before the adoption is finalized a few months later, per your state requirements. The agency will also ensure you have counseled both during the pregnancy and after the placement.

The adoption center will also help you through the processes of deciding what kind of relationship you would like to have with your child and their adoptive parents after placement is complete. Would you like a very open relationship where you call, visit and send and receive photos of your child? Or, would you like a more semi-open adoption where maybe you just receive photos or updates at milestones or even just an email once a year and no photos? The adoption center can help you work through those decisions, create an adoption plan for you and your baby and develop the agreement you will have with your child’s adoptive family on the amount of contact you will have.  

The best adoption centers will also touch base with you as the birth parent once a month, usually up to six months to report back after post-placement visits with the adoptive family. They will also provide continued counseling during this time. Sometimes, it does not happen as often, but most great adoption centers will check in with you and see how you are doing. The relationship with the best adoption centers do not end at relinquishment.  

The relationship you will have with your adoption center will be one of the most important relationships you will have during this journey of adoption. The adoption center and the social workers will support you throughout your pregnancy and may even come to be like friends and family—this is an important season of your life. The adoption center team will be there to support you and your baby each step of the way. No question is too small, too silly or too big. These centers have heard and dealt with it all. The good agencies have done this hundreds, if not thousands of times for birth parents and prospective adoptive parents. When you ask, what are the best adoption centers near me, it is important to see that although there are similarities, there are big differences in how that question is answered.  

Choosing the best adoption center for you during your pregnancy can seem overwhelming, but when you have a deep understanding of the process and what to expect, you will be at ease. It is important to do your research. Adoption.com is a wonderful resource to explore as a birth parent. Read reviews from other birth parents who have gone through the process. Search profiles of prospective adoptive parents and read articles on the process.   

Whether you are just beginning to consider adoption or have been matched with prospective adoptive parents through a personal connection or online profile, it is important to select an adoption center that is both ethical and respectful and focused on the needs of birth mothers. You and your baby’s needs are most important. Selecting an adoption center that has a mission focused on the birth mother and her baby is most important. Most of all, trust your heart, lean on those you love and you will make the best choices for you and your baby.

Narrowing Down Your List of the Best Adoption Centers Near You

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential adoption centers, it is important to create a list of questions to ask when you begin your research of the best ones near you. Some of these questions can be answered through an adoption center’s website, others are best asked in an informational interview with the social workers.

What are the Best Adoption Centers Near Me Based on Reviews?

Once you have narrowed down the list of the best adoption centers near me based on location, resources for birth parents, and so on, it is also important to check out reviews of an adoption center online. Asking the adoption center for a list of birth parents who have placed children with the help and support of the center, if permission has been given to be contacted, can be helpful in understanding the process and how supportive the adoption center will be for you and your baby. Most likely, an adoption center will give you a recommendation of birth mothers or expectant parents who had a stellar experience. It may be most helpful to look online for reviews from birth mothers, not just prospective adoptive parents, although helpful, as well. Searching Adoption.com forums, as well as the adoption center’s social media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook platforms for both positive and negative feedback can be helpful. Yelp and Google are also a good resource for reviews. However, these platform reviews should not be the basis for your decision. Many times, people feel anonymous online and share information that is not helpful or even true. Take social media reviews with a grain of salt, but trust the personal stories of birth mothers first handle more.  

 Where Do I Even Find a List of the Best Adoption Centers Near Me? 

Adoption.com  and adoption.ORG has wonderful articles on each state in the United States and the process within each state for placing your baby for adoption. A recent article on adoption in Pennsylvania is an example of the information you can find on their site regarding each state’s process and adoption centers within each state. These websites also offer a state directory of adoption centers by state and specialty. This can be very helpful in simply narrowing down your search by state and the types of adoptions they facilitate before diving into the research on each adoption center.

Finally, the questions what are the best adoption centers near me come down to the adoption centers that make you feel like you and your baby are in good hands, that your questions are readily answered, that the resources are abundant for birth parents and that you feel they respect your decision and adoption plan, free of coercion. Trusting your instincts and doing your research is the best way to learn which are the best adoption centers near you.

Jennifer Mellon is the co-founder and president of Trustify, providing private investigators on demand to consumers and businesses. She has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving as the executive director and chief development officer at Joint Council on International Children’s Services. She also worked for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and served on the board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro region. She currently serves on the development board for the National Council for Adoption and currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and five children.