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Adoption Decisions – Part 5: Choosing a Professional

This is the fifth and final post in a series about decision-making in adoption. If you have not done so already, you can catch up starting with Part 1 here.

You are ready to jump in with both feet. Your family has weighed the pros and cons of every piece in the adoption puzzle. Now is the time to make it all happen. But who will you trust with handling all the pieces and making sure they fit together for the beautiful picture you are about to create?

Choosing a professional can be one of the most important decisions you make as you kick-start your adoption journey. Whoever you commit to working with will be refining all the details and affecting your experience in the process. Follow these steps to help find the best adoption professional for you.

1. Know what your family needs

What is your family’s level of expertise with adoption? If you consider yourselves novices, you will want someone who can take your hand each step of the way and educate you as they facilitate the details. If you have prior experience with adoption, your family may want to choose a professional that allows you to have more control over the process. Agencies will also have requirements themselves for deciding what families to work with. Knowing your family’s desires as well as your limitations will make it easier to identify the right professional for you.

2. Is the agency licensed?

When researching different agencies or professionals, make sure they meet your state’s requirements for licensing and performing adoption services.

3. What training and education do they provide?

Most agencies will require families to attend pre-adoption training or complete an educational requirement for adoption. This will give you an idea of how reputable the agency is because they want the best for the people they are serving.

4. What services do they provide for the prospective birth mother?

You want to know that anyone you are working with in an adoption will advocate for their potential birth mothers. Caring for the baby in an adoption includes providing services for the prospective birth mother that will ensure she is counseled before and after a placement, receives assistance for her basic needs, and is available to her for support as she makes the hardest and most courageous decision of her life.

5. What are the professional’s fees, and what do they include?

Whether you are choosing an adoption attorney, a non-profit agency, or a for-profit adoption agency, they will all have some type of fees. An adoption professional should be able to give you itemized charges and estimated expenses for most adoption situations. They should tell you what all is covered by their fees and what is not. Asking about “at-risk” fees will also be important because they will come into play in the event of a disrupted adoption situation. Know what your family can afford and any extras you will be asked to pay.

6. What is their average wait time?

An estimate for wait time from an adoption professional will be just that, an estimate. However, knowing how many families they serve and the number of birth mothers they work with can help determine the wait time for a family. Other factors will also come into play, such as an adoptive family’s preferences for the child they wish to adopt. But having the conversation about wait time will open your eyes for realistic expectations.

7. Ask for references

When making a decision this big and trusting someone to bring your adoption full circle, it may be helpful to ask for references. If you don’t know anyone who has used their services before, ask if they can get you in contact with a previous family that worked with them. Talking with someone who was on your side of the adoption process can help you better understand the adoption professional you are researching.

One of the most profound and truthful things I can tell you is that adoption is hard, but it is so worth it. You could have the best professional in the country and receive the best services, and the process would still prove to bring difficulties. Find someone who will support you throughout the process and make even the hardest days worth every second.

Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.