When faced with considering an adoption plan, most feel that they should seek out the experts in the industry and turn to adoption professionals or adoption agencies.  While agencies may offer the easiest accessibility for placing a child for adoption, that does not always mean they have the best interests of you and your baby in mind.  This can be due to a desire for profit, to ensure placements for waiting families, and a variety of other factors.  Here are some signs that an adoption agency does not have your best interests at heart.

They ask you to sign something pertaining to placement the first time you meet.

The first time you meet with an adoption professional, your head and your heart are sure to be a mess of emotions.  You probably have a lot of questions and a lot of things to think about after the questions are answered.  The last thing you need to be doing is signing anything that indicates you plan to place at that time.  You need to take time to think and should be respected to do so.

They choose the families that you should consider, rather than leaving the ball in your court.

When choosing a potential family for your child, you should be given as many options as you are able to handle.  You may not know exactly what characteristics are important to your selection until you are able to see different profiles.  For example, when I first began considering adoption, I thought that I wanted my son to go to a childless family.  I couldn’t imagine him not having his older brother now, who I love so very much.  Also, while advisement is helpful, no one should be picking a family but you.  It was a gut feeling on my part what family my son was best suited to join and such is the case for many other birth parents I’ve met.  It’s important for that decision to be yours.

They don’t allow you to have direct communication with the family you’re matched with.

With the rise of open adoption becoming more common, it is important to build a connection with an adoptive family pre-placement to ensure that you have compatible personalities for a continued open relationship.  When an agency facilitates all your communication, it keeps you from forming a bond and determining whether or not the family is truly the best fit for your baby.  If an agency seems to be creating intentional distance between you and a hopeful adoptive family, they may not have your best interests at heart.

They use any language that makes you feel as though you don’t have a choice.

The important thing to remember is that until your parental rights are terminated legally, you still have a choice.  Just because you talked with an adoption agency, or considered or matched with hopeful adoptive families does not mean that you have lost your ability to parent your child. You can still change your mind about adoption.  If the adoption agency begins saying things to you like how happy you are going to make the adoptive family, that you have to sign at a certain point, that you must pay back any expenses if you change your mind, that you can’t have the hospital time to yourself or take the baby home for a few days before making your decision, run as far and as fast from the agency as you can!  Find power in being able to make the decision that best fits your situation and don’t allow someone making a profit to sway your choice in any sort of way.

While we ended up placing our son privately through an attorney, I considered using an agency.  I contacted one and emailed with a counselor.  Though we knew that I was pregnant with a boy, the agency still sent profiles of families that were gender-specific to girls.  I did not feel they were receptive to my requests though I had a few and only contacted them once or twice.  When I backed off because we had matched privately and were sure of our choice, I still received emails and phone calls somewhat persistently.  To a woman in a crisis pregnancy, it may seem that an agency is doing so for her benefit, but sadly, this is not always the case.

While there are some agencies that may not have your best interests at heart, that is certainly not true of all agencies.  It is important to make sure you look for signs as to whether they care for your best interests and the interests of your child.  Take time to navigate adoption on your terms if that is the path you need to take.  Remember that during a time you may feel very alone, you are not. There are people who do care for you and want the desires of your heart to be seen to, and you should accept nothing less.

Written by Samantha Alkire