Whether you are a hopeful adoptive parent or a prospective birth mother, choosing an adoption professional is one of the first — and most important — decisions you will make in your adoption process.
Your choice of adoption agency, attorney or other professional will shape every step in your adoption journey, and it can make or break your experience. So, it’s understandable that this decision can cause some anxiety. Wanting to be sure you make the best possible choice, you might turn to adoption agency reviews as one of your first sources of information.
Reviews of adoption agencies, attorneys and other professionals can shed some light on others’ experiences with a professional and offer insight into the pros and cons of working with different individuals or organizations. But, they can also sometimes add to the confusion of trying to choose the right professional.
In this article, find out what you really need to know about adoption agency ratings, and learn where to find adoption agency reviews you can trust.
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Keeping Perspective When Reading Attorney and Adoption Agency Reviews
Adoption agencies (and other adoption professionals) exist to provide services to hopeful adoptive parents and pregnant women considering adoption. Like with any service provider, some people are going to be thrilled with their experience, and others are not. And, like with any service provider, these people may choose to leave adoption agency reviews — some of them positive, some of them not.
Unlike many other service industries, however, adoption is incredibly personal in nature — and this is where reviews of adoption agencies and other adoption professionals differ from reviews of many other types of businesses and organizations. It is impossible to leave an objective review of an adoption agency or attorney, and because the process involves heightened emotions on all sides, you are bound to come across some positive and some negative reviews of any adoption professional.
These reviews of adoption agencies and attorneys can be a helpful tool as you’re researching potential adoption professionals, but only when you have some context as you’re reading. Only then can you know exactly how to interpret both adoption agency complaints and glowing recommendations.
Here are some things to keep in mind when reading reviews of adoption professionals:
People use the internet to vent.
Whether we’re talking about adoption, a haircut or an online purchase, people are often more motivated to leave a negative review than a positive one. When someone is frustrated with their experience, it is easy (and satisfying) to leave an angry comment online. People who are satisfied with their experience, on the other hand, have already moved on and are busy living their lives. For every person who takes the time to leave a negative review of an adoption agency or attorney, there are likely many more who are perfectly happy with their experience. (For example, many large national agencies complete hundreds of adoptions every year, but they may only have a dozen total reviews on Google).
Birth parents are less likely to leave reviews.
We know that very few people are motivated to leave reviews in general — typically, only those with exceptionally positive or negative experiences, which don’t necessarily represent the norm. In fact, only about 5 percent of people leave reviews overall. And, because of the confidential nature of the adoption process, birth parents may be even less likely to leave reviews about their experiences. For many birth mothers as well as adoptive parents, this process is a very personal and private one — not something they want to share with every stranger on the internet. This can be frustrating for those who want to make sure they’re choosing a professional that respects and supports birth parents, especially when the one or two birth parents who choose to leave a review do so because of an atypical experience. Keep in mind as you read birth parents’ reviews of an agency or attorney that you are reading about a handful of experiences out of hundreds.
Adoption is a highly emotional process.
Adoption is an emotionally charged process on all sides of the triad. It is full of highs and lows, as well as unforeseen events and challenges. It is not for the faint of heart. Most people come to adoption through a process of grief and loss; many adoptive parents struggle for years with infertility before choosing to adopt, and every adoption involves loss for the birth mother. While good adoption professionals are committed to doing everything they can to support the adoptive families and prospective birth mothers they work with, it’s important to keep this context in mind when reading domestic adoption agency reviews. No adoption agency or attorney can make this process seamless, no matter how hard they may try, and some adoptive parents and women placing a baby for adoption would leave a negative review no matter what professional they worked with.
No adoption professional is the right fit for everyone.
It is up to every individual and family to decide which adoption agency, attorney or other professional is best suited to meet their needs. That’s why it’s so important to fully research and understand the adoption professional you choose before committing to work with them. Make sure to ask as many questions as you can upfront to avoid any misunderstandings with your adoption professional later on. And as you’re reading reviews, keep in mind that there is no “perfect” adoption agency or attorney — every professional has pros and cons you’ll need to consider to determine whether they’re the right fit for you.
There are always going to be tradeoffs.
For example, you may notice that adoptive parents leave complaints about a particular agency’s costs. But do those reviews take into account the value offered in exchange for those costs? Some agencies charge higher upfront fees but offer services and benefits that other professionals can’t match. Other agencies and attorneys entice adoptive parents with lower, “too-good-to-be-true” quotes up front, only to charge hidden or recurring fees as the process goes on. Knowing the reasons behind a professional’s practices and policies can go a long way in helping you make fair comparisons between the professionals you’re considering.
Knowledge of the process is crucial.
Some negative reviews of adoption professionals are based in a lack of understanding about the process. Before you start reading attorney and adoption agency reviews, it’s important to have a base knowledge of how adoption works and what to expect throughout the process. Some complaints left in agency and attorney reviews are actually complaints about the adoption process itself — the reviewer may not understand that certain steps of the process (which they may not like) would be more or less the same with any agency or attorney.
Not all reviews are real.
Unfortunately, not everything you read on the internet is true — and that includes online reviews. Some organizations may pay for positive reviews or write their own negative reviews of the competition. Spotting these fake online reviews isn’t always easy, but it helps to be aware that they’re out there. While adoptive families and birth parents may be less likely to go into detail about their experiences, look for reviews that include some specifics, like the year the reviewer worked with the attorney or the name of an agency staff member they worked with. Pay attention to reviews that go beyond basic adjectives (“great,” “terrible,” etc.) to provide examples of the things people liked or didn’t like about the professional.
Ultimately, it’s important to take online adoption reviews with a grain of salt. Try not to give too much weight to individual complaints; instead, look at the general reputation of the agency or attorney as a whole, and keep an eye out for any patterns or recurring red flags posted by different reviewers many times over.
Where to Read Adoption Agency Reviews
None of this is to say reviews aren’t important or can’t be helpful. On the contrary, many adoption professionals encourage feedback from adoptive parents and birth parents. You can read reviews of adoption agencies and attorneys on Google and in various internet adoption forums; just remember that information found in online groups isn’t always accurate, and be sure to confirm facts with the adoption professional you’re considering.
For more detailed and specific information about an agency’s or attorney’s services, contact them directly to ask for references, or read testimonials from previous clients on their website.
Other Tips for Choosing an Adoption Professional
Remember that adoption agency ratings and attorney reviews are only one piece of the pie when it comes to choosing an adoption professional. You should also:
- Interview every adoption professional you are considering and ask detailed questions about their processes, services, costs and more. Look for an agency or attorney that answers all of your questions transparently and to your satisfaction.
- Review the adoption professional’s website. Do they offer a lot of helpful information to adoptive parents and prospective birth mothers? Are they transparent about their costs and services? Is the information on the website consistent with what they tell you when you talk to them? Is it presented in a way that is sensitive to and respectful of the needs of the birth mother and adoptive family?
- Consider the factors that are most important to you in an adoption professional — whether that’s 24/7 support for prospective birth parents, having your own dedicated adoption specialist, lower wait times for adoptive families, national scope or financial protection for adoption disruptions. Create a list of priorities and look for an adoption professional that checks those boxes.
Every hopeful adoptive parent and prospective birth mother deserves to feel good about the adoption professional they choose to work with. By keeping some perspective as you read adoption agency and attorney reviews, you can make a more informed decision that you feel comfortable with.