Choosing the right adoption agency can be really stressful. There are so many out there and it’s hard to know which one is right for you. When we started thinking about adoption, I was overwhelmed. Where should we start? Where do we go? That’s when I began my research.
First, I asked around. There are so many adoption Facebook groups out there that you can easily become a part of. I’ve learned so much from many of these groups. And one of my questions? Yep, you guessed it: “What adoption agency did you use? Would you use them again? Why or why not?” I got a lot of good feedback and also began to notice some patterns as certain agencies came up more than once for being good…or not-so-good.
Second, my husband and I figured out what “good” meant to us. The right agency match for us meant an adoption agency that had more than a couple qualifications.
Let’s be honest. As wrong as it feels, money is an important part of adoption. Whether you have the money now or are taking out a loan, you have to pay for all the services at some point. We knew what our budget was and had very little wiggle room. This qualification for us alone eliminated many agencies.
This is tricky because ethics, in some ways, are relative. Right? My husband and I went in feeling like we had our own understanding of what we felt was an ethical way of handling an adoption. For these things, there was no wiggle room. From an agency, we wanted honesty. Whether it was about finances, individuals, the law, and their own expectations of us…we needed honesty. Integrity. We wanted upfront truth about the expectant/birth mother, unborn child, and we expected them to be honest and truthful about our family when presenting us. We wanted each situation to be treated professionally, and equally. Our list was short, but if an agency was transparent and honest, then we felt we’d be safe.
Equality in Care
There are some agencies that, I feel, favor adoptive parents. They cater to the desires of those seeking to adopt. Not only did we feel this was unethical, it just felt plain icky. It was imperative to us that our potential birth mother be cared for and receive all the help she needed. We wanted an agency that was mindful and certainly more knowledgable than we are about birth parent needs so that we wouldn’t necessarily be taken advantage of, but more importantly, so that we could feel peace in knowing that this painful experience that we would be a part of would also be an experience that offered her hope. There is no way around the fact that our child’s first mother would be going through a tremendous loss, a loss we couldn’t fathom, and we would be a part of that story. So yes. We needed an agency that would take care of her as she processed this pain.
We also needed to know that we would be taken care of. We were charting new ground and we needed to feel safe knowing that our questions would be answered and answered sensitively. We needed to know that we would be kept in the loop, and that if we needed extra guidance, it would be provided. This is also our story that we were writing with each new step and we needed an agency that could guide us through it.
Reputation matters. We felt that if an agency had a good reputation, then the above three items were in check. Some agencies we checked out on our own, feeling like they had potential for us. Once we asked around, we found that the integrity of the agencies were not great and we dropped them off our list. Reputation will follow us all, for good or bad. It’s no different with a company. And getting feedback from others was important to us.
If one of these pieces was missing, it wasn’t a match for us. An agency could have the best reputation, but if it was over our budget, we just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t right for us. That’s how it was with any of these items. If one wasn’t solid, then they were off our list.
But there’s one more piece that trumps them all. Intuition. Your gut. We had had a great experience with an agency for both our daughter and son, but they had since stopped doing placements to focus on helping birth mothers through counseling and therapy. So we were on the search for a new agency when it came time for our next adoption. I found a few that were within our budget, had a good reputation (came recommended), were honest, and truly seemed to meet the needs of all parties involved. I didn’t know which to choose. When I called and talked to the agencies, they both seemed kind but one stood out. I can’t even tell you exactly what it was…I just felt safe. Perhaps the other agencies would have been just fine, but I have absolutely no regrets with the agency we chose. They stood with us and helped us every step of long way.
When another friend asked who we used I suggested this agency. Guess what? They chose a different agency that fit their needs better. Choosing an agency is such an individual thing. It’s sorta like choosing your spouse. A person may have everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but for some reason it just isn’t the right fit. Others may seem great but you’re not sure, you go out on a limb, and it’s the best decision you ever made. When you have gathered all the information, go with your gut. That’s how you’ll know if you chose the right one. And what if you choose wrong? Well, we’ve worked with an agency that we probably wouldn’t recommend or use again. However, we went in with all the knowledge we could gather, and we don’t regret it. It wasn’t a horrible situation, we just know there’s better. And so we will choose better now that we know better.
You’ll know. And then you’ll be able to help others along their way. If you need some assistance finding the right agency, you can click here for further help.