An adoption agency can most easily be viewed as “the middleman.” Agencies are the intermediary in most adoptive journeys. Agencies are organized to facilitate adoptions and be in service of both birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents. Using an agency to help facilitate the ins and outs of the adoption process is extremely helpful and, often times, required by the state.

An adoption agency typically provide six different services. These services include matching hopeful adoptive parents with a child, arranging counseling for birth parents, performing a home study, providing education, preparing paperwork, and performing post-placement visits.

While many may think of adoptive agencies as a service solely for hopeful adoptive parents, these agencies also help birth parents find a family for their child and also provide counseling and education to ensure they are making the most informed decision regarding their placement choice.

Most agencies will also touch base with the adoptive family once a month, for six months, in the form of post-placement visits. These visits are most often a requirement of the state. While the idea of visits can be intimidating, it is simply a time for the agency to make sure that the adoptive family is progressing in a healthy and functional fashion.

The agency will provide you with an ally, many times the assessor who performed your home study, who is simply visiting to make sure you have all the resources you need to parent successfully. This ally will ensure that each family does not need any additional services or does not have any lingering questions regarding the process or needs of their child.

Most adoption agencies do not have only one function, but their purpose will depend highly on how they are licensed. When searching for an agency, you need to deduce what types of services you need for your situation and make sure the agency you choose is licensed to do just that. For example, we knew the birth mother for my son’s adoption, so we only needed an agency that performed home studies and post-placement visits.

It is typically rare that an adoption agency is not licensed in all areas, however if an agency is not, they will often have another adoption agency or assessor they contract with to be able to service their clients efficiently. Many agencies will have in-house attorneys to complete the legal paperwork for an adoption or will contract with attorneys to provide all of the legal services required.

While no two agencies are the same, the differences are most often found in the pricing and education required of the hopeful adoptive parents. Education for adoptive parents is incredibly valuable and can vary from something as simple are reading books on adoption to attending a six week course. My husband and I had one agency picked out and quickly switched to a different agency due to the education requirement. The first agency required we travel eight hours away for an intensive weekend course on adoption while the second agency allowed us to attend one local class and read three books on adoption. The first agency’s requirements may have worked for some, but was not realistic for our family, as we had four children to tend to and a limited budget.

While picking an adoption agency can seem incredibly daunting, it is important to explore all of your options. Seek out and listen to reviews of those who went through an agency before you. Whether you are not matched yet or you have already privately matched with a birth mother, make sure to find an agency that is known for being respectful and attentive to the needs of birth parents. This will make the process a lot smoother and comfortable for everyone. Pricing can also vary considerably different between agencies offering the same exact services, so do not lose hope if your initial search does not fit with your budget! The right agency is out there. Research and take your time to take this vital step on your journey through the adoption process.