Jennifer Perry (Executive Director, Children's Action Network) gives expert video advice on: How do I find adoption agencies that match children with families of the same religion?; What kinds of questions should I ask a prospective adoption agency?; Who decides if and when I get a child when using a private adoption agency? and more...
What is an "adoption agency"?
An adoption agency is an entity that exists to match adoptive parents with children they'd like to adopt. There are two types of adoption agencies: public agencies and private agencies.
What is the difference between a public and private adoption agency?
The difference between a private and public adoption agency is that a private adoption agency tends to cover all types of adoptions, including international adoption, private adoptions and sometimes adoptions from foster care. A public adoption agency is focused almost exclusively on adoptions from foster care of the public child welfare system.
What kinds of questions should I ask a prospective adoption agency?
When you're looking for an adoption agency, you should look at things like how long it's been in business, whether they focus on placing a particular ethnicity and/or religion, and what you're looking for that in a child. You should look at particular requirements the adoption agency may have for adoptive parents; they vary from agency to agency. You should look at how long they've been in the community. You might want to know how many adoptions they've completed. It helps you to know that there's experience there. You should definitely, if you can, go to the orientations and interview staff to find out whether it's an adoption agency you'll be comfortable working with. If you're interested in international adoption, you might want to inquire as to whether the agency has staff overseas.
What kinds of factors are considered by an adoption agency?
There are no fixed requirements from an adoption agency for adoptive parents, but in general, the agencies will look at your marital status, if it's relevant. Sometimes it's important to an agency to know how long you've been married. Some agencies will look at tobacco and/or alcohol abuse, a prospective adoptive may have a history of that, because of the impact it may have on an adoptive child. Some agencies will look at why you're adopting. For instance, they'll want to know whether it is because of fertility issues, or what your other desires are. Some agencies will give preference to couples who have had fertility problems, some will not. Again, it just depends on the agency itself. All agencies will want to determine that you are financially stable, and have the economic wherewithal to take care of a child. All adoption agencies look at your overall health to make sure that you're able to care for and meet the demands of the child that they'll be placing in your home. And all agencies will conduct a criminal background check, primarily to make sure that there's not a history of child abuse and felonies.
Who decides if and when I get a child when using a private adoption agency?
The decision about placing a child in your home when using a private adoption agency is up to the agency in part because they are looking for particular criteria you have to meet. It's also up to the birth mother as she will look at a portfolio and whether your hopes, want desires and criteria, meet the ones that she has for the people who will be adopting and raising her child.
What information should be in my adoption portfolio?
In your adoption portfolio you really want to give a sense of who you are as a family, why you want to adopt and what your hopes and dreams are for your family, for your child and for your future. You also want to give a sense of yourselves and why your beginning this journey, what you will give to a child and what kind of home you will provide for him or her when you adopt them.
What is typically found in a "Dear Birthmother" letter?
A "dear birthmother" letter often includes a description of you and your family, why you want to adopt, your feelings about the birthmother and the process that she's going through and her decision to give her child up for adoption. You should also mention your hopes and dreams for that child and describe the home you will provide for them in the "dear birthmother" letter.