By Sarah Baker // Guest Writer
If you are considering adoption, you may be trying to decide what options are best for you and your family. Many factors go into deciding how to proceed with adoption, including fees, services, speed, education, support, etc. You may think that word-of-mouth referrals or posting your adoption profile will be enough, and for many people it can work, but there are many benefits to using an adoption agency to facilitate growing your family. These include:
1. Education. Selecting an adoption agency is essentially choosing a “one-stop shop.” Your home study is part of that training, but, but you’ll also receive more education specific to the type of adoption you are pursuing. You can request information on open adoption, transracial adoption, special needs, drug or alcohol exposure, and trauma. You also receive additional education about, and protection from, adoption fraud and failed placements.
2.Support during the process. When you are working with an adoption agency, you can rest assured that not only you will be getting support during the adoption process, but so will the expectant parent(s). Having a caseworker who can help guide you in your journey, answer your questions, ease your fears, and counsel you and the expectant parent(s) can be invaluable.
3. Cost. While agencies across the nation vary in pricing, at an agency you will typically be given an upfront fee schedule so you know what to expect. Being prepared will help you determine what you can afford. Often with independent adoptions the fees can look small, but the services of each individual professional you work with can start to add up. An agency also helps protect you against fraud or matches that do not result in a placement, two situations that can be very costly.
4. Knowledge of Adoption Laws. When using a licensed and ethical adoption agency, you can be confident that your adoption is following the letter of the law. Many people fear the horror stories they see in the news or being portrayed in emotional dramas on TV. Using a reputable adoption agency for your adoption means you are less likely to make errors that could put your adoption at legal risk.
5. Timeline. While every adoption placement happens at its own pace and there is no guarantee on how long it will take your family to match or get an adoption placement, adoptions through agencies, on average, happen faster than when hopeful adoptive parents are trying to match independently. The reason is simple: exposure. Agencies use marketing and have gained a reputation in the industry as a resource for an expectant mother considering adoption placement.
6. Support Post-Placement. Not only will you receive support and knowledge from the caseworker during the adoption process, but many agencies provide lifetime support to everyone in the adoption triad for future communication, grief, education, and support as needed.
For example, immediately following placement you will likely get home visits and routine check-ins to make sure everything is going smoothly. This is especially important for the new birth parents who may be struggling with grief, finances, or other hardships. If communication in your open adoption is hitting a roadblock, the agency caseworker may be able to assist and nurture it back on track.
A final note: When researching adoption agencies, make sure you inquire about all provided services. Get as much information upfront as possible so you can make the best choice of professional services for your family.
Sarah Baker is a the mom of two boys, Isaac and Ezra. She is a mother biologically and through adoption. She advocates for adoption education and ethical adoption. She and her husband were featured on Season 2 of Oxygen’s “I’m Having Their Baby,” which tells the story of their first adoption match failing. Adoption comes with a million questions and it is often hard to find the answers. Sarah hopes to use her personal experience to help anyone who wants more information about adoption. You can learn more about Sarah and her family on her blog.