In a private agency adoption, the birth parents relinquish their parental rights to the adoption agency. The adoption agency then works directly with families wishing to adopt a child. The adoptive family won’t meet the birth parents, unless the adoption is an open adoption where there is interaction between the birth and adoptive parents during and after the adoption. In any case, the agency’s social worker matches the adoptive parents and the child.
The agency is required to abide by certain standards in terms of screening parents and monitoring adopted children. Preference is often given to families who appear more stable or compatible with the child, but again, there is no perfect family that agencies demand. Instead, agencies look for the best match.
When looking for a licensed private adoption agency, it’s essential to make sure that the agency is reputable. The State Licensing Specialist where the agency is located can tell you if the agency is in good standing and if it’s been the subject of complaints. Check with the state’s Attorney General’s Office to see if any legal action has been pursued against the agency. Look up the agency on the Better Business Bureau’s Web site to see if any complaints have been filed.
You should get at least three references from clients whose adoptions were at least three years ago. Ask these clients if they had any problems with the agency and if the agency was helpful and supportive, including after the adoption. You can also join an adoption support group and talk with other parents about their experiences with adoption agencies.
In the end, you should choose an adoption agency that can help you find the best match for your family. Friends, relatives and adoption support groups can be great references for finding an adoption agency. In the next section, we’ll look at the different types of adoption and how they work.