Finding the best adoption agency is the first step in making the best adoption plan. In a country with thousands of licensed adoption agencies, though, just deciding where to go can seem like a daunting task to pick the “best” one. (To say nothing of the countless other adoption attorneys, and unlicensed baby brokers and adoption “consultants” and illegal-in-Texas “adoption advertisers” vying for your money– or your baby.)
So let’s start with the basics: whether you’re considering placing a baby for adoption or adopting a child, you deserve the best help you can get. So that generally requires that you find the best adoption agency that will likely fit your needs and those of any child involved.
The Best Adoption Agency for Birthparents
If you’re placing a child for adoption, the services of any legitimate adoption agency should cost you nothing at all.
Using an adoption agency close to where you live isn’t required. But you definitely will need a licensed adoption agency in your own state, Ideally, they should be available to you anytime, and you should have your own Master’s level caseworker and counselor, who will be there for you before and after any adoption decision is made.
The best adoption agency tells placing parents upfront that adoption isn’t their only option, that it’s not an easy decision and that no legal paperwork for adoption can even be signed until at least 48 hours after birth. They encourage them to participate in counseling, to talk with a lawyer about any legal questions, and to be absolutely sure about the adoptive family and the adoption decision, because in Texas, there’s no legally-enforceable open adoption agreements, and no grace period once a child has been legally-surrendered to a licensed agency’s care.
Beyond that, though, the best adoption agency for anyone that’s placing a child for adoption welcomes their clients with hugs and not handshakes. Their office is a comforting place to be, and their “help” isn’t just about financial support. The staff is nonjudgemental, and their commitment extends long beyond the placement. That’s the sort of agency Abrazo has always strived to be– because we truly care.
The Best Adoption Agency for Adoptive Parents
Those who are adopting find there’s no shortage of places ready to take their money, but finding adoption agencies that are truly committed to adoptive families long-term are somewhat more rare. Adoptive parents can choose to sign up and work with multiple adoption programs in or out of their home state, yet they don’t always realize that the places that make adoption sound easiest may also be the skeeziest. (And the most expensive adoption programs are rarely among the best, in reality.)
Adopting parents are very vulnerable, even if most online adoption profiles make it look like adopters have perfect lives with unlimited resources. Most come to adoption from failed (and costly) infertility treatment programs, so they can be emotionally raw. They don’t know what they don’t know, yet, and they can be susceptible to scammers and schemers. The best adoption agency for those seeking to adopt is a nonprofit that’s been licensed for ten years or more, that has a reasonable state-monitoring record, and is committed to openness and transparency. They should have well-trained staff who are in regular contact with all their clients every other week prior to placement and monthly thereafter.
The adoptive parents may (understandably) be most interested in how soon placement can occur, yet the best adoption agencies committed to telling adoptive parents what they don’t want to hear, too. These organizations are more focused on how they can help prepare couples to truly be the best parents long-term, and what they can do to equip adoptive families across the life spectrum. Abrazo has a national network of adoptive families, continues to be available to its parents throughout their children’s developmental years, and even holds an annual reunion to provide clients with ongoing emotional support.
The Best Adoption Agencies for Adoptees
Perhaps the most important questions any parents (whether they’re placing or adopting) should be considering when seeking an agency is this: which adoption agency is putting the adoptee’s needs first, even before the adoptee exists? Because the truth is that the only adoption worth doing is child-centered– and children who get adopted won’t remain children for the majority of their lives.
Adoption agencies that are revenue-driven are rarely child-centered, and adoption agencies that advocate for secrecy are not advocates for adoptee rights. Remember: adoptees are typically the only members of the adoption triad who are given no say in the adoption decision, yet they are the ones most impacted by it. So the best adoption agencies are those who truly consider the adoptee their primary client, and which strive to do adoptions that honor each adoptee’s right to know their own truths, their entire lives long.
Does the adoption agency you’re considering offer support groups and free counseling/referrals for adoptees? Do they counsel parents to tell their children their adoption story from placement day onwards? Is the agency committed to adoptee rights on the state level? Do they coach parents on the importance of direct contact in open adoption relationships? Do adoptees have to pay fees to the agency in order to access their own file? Are adoptees always welcome to visit “their” adoption agency? The best adoption agencies never forget that it is ultimately each adoptee to which they are always accountable, so they program accordingly.
“Best” is Relative
Value is in the eye of the beholder, of course. Adoption is a highly-emotional process and given the widely-differing needs, adoptees and birthparents and adoptive parents may have different perceptions of whether their adoption agency was “best” or not. Ask all the questions you have upfront, do your homework and then choose wisely.
Every adoption agency is only as good as the clients they serve and the staff they hire. (And any agency’s mission statement may actually be less revealing than the feedback shared by its adoptees?) In truth, the best measure of whether any adoption agency has earned its merits might just be whether it empowered the participants in its adoptions to build lifelong relationships that ultimately served each adoptee’s needs. Keep this in mind in your quest to find the best adoption agency, and best of luck to you, wherever your journey leads you.