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Choosing an International Adoption Agency


Your adoption search – Russian adoption, China adoption, Guatemala adoption or from other countries—will start with an adoption agency. Along with your search for adoption photolistings or travel information, you’ll want to find agencies you are comfortable with.

An International Adoption Agency has a specific set of skills that you’ll need whether looking for an infant or toddler. They have a skill set that transcends adoption statistics to become friends.

By the time many people get to the decision making process they are already emotionally drained. Sadly, the choice of which adoption agency to choose is made in haste, after what might have been years of trying to have a biological child—often including doctor visits and fertility treatments.
There are several keys to making an educated decision when it comes to choosing an international adoption agency.

1. Network with friends and neighbors who have adoption experience.

One of the best resources available to anyone making the decision about an adoption agency often comes from people they know. Mention your decision to adopt internationally to a few friends and you’ll be amazed at how many people know someone who has adopted internationally. A brother or sister, friend or co-worker of your best friend’s might be a great resource to give you advice about adoption and agencies.

2. An Educated Consumer Makes the Best Decisions.

There is an amazing amount of material available to prospective parents. Adoption magazines, web sites, books and seminars all offer a perspective on adoption that is worth adding to the your knowledge.

Sign up for adoption magazines, spend some time in the on-line adoption groups and visit agency web sites.

3. Take Good Notes About the Adoption Agencies.

With thousands of resources available to you during the decision making process, being organized is a key. One of the most frustrating things that can happen to a prospective parent is confusing which services are offered by which agency. Signing with one agency and expecting the services another had to offer and you’re sure to have a disappointing experience.

4. Ask Questions.

The adoption process is incredibly invasive. You are going to tell your agency the most personal details about your financial situation, your marriage and your history. Knowing how much they are going to know about you should make you feel empowered to learn as much as you can about them.
Understand the financial situation of any agency you look at. As “non profits” adoption agencies make their financial filings available each year. Ask them to see their’s.
Ask about accreditation. Is the agency licensed? What certifications do their adoption counselors have? What national adoption groups are they affiliated with? Are they members of the Better Business Bureau?
What is their experience? How old is the particular program you are interested in? How many adoptions have they facilitated and from which countries?

5. The only cost of going to seminars it time.

Most international adoption agencies offer open houses or seminars to prospective parents. These seminars are a bit different with each agency, but they can give you a great insight into how a particular agency handles the process. Armed with your list of personal referrals and researched agencies, spend some time attending the seminar of each agency to get an idea of what to expect.

Some agencies offer a dedicated consultant to help you through the process. This person will be your liaison throughout the process and you may speak with them several times a week. It’s important that you are comfortable with their style, knowledge and approach.

It’s important to get referrals from people who have used a particular agency. It’s important to not only talk to the people that the agency puts you in touch with, but also find other people who have used that particular agency. You can do this through an online message boards, local adoption groups or by searching for family web sites on line.

5. Money, Money, Money

Adopting is expensive. And adoption agencies are not regulated as to what they charge for one service or another. It’s obviously more important to work with an agency you are comfortable with, but there’s no reason to spend more money than necessary either.

Make sure that each agency provides you with clear information about how much each step in the process will cost and when the money is due. Application fees, translation charges and home study expenses vary greatly from one agency to the next.


There are hundreds of different international adoption agencies offering programs that differ greatly. Some offer a hands-on approach while others keep their distance. Some provide a doctor to travel with each adoption group while others rely on a network of medical providers in each country. The important thing is to do your research, talk to your friends and neighbors, make sure your expectations are clear and choose an agency that makes you feel comfortable. Choosing your agency wisely will make this life changing event a pleasant one.

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