With so many agencies to choose from, it can be quite intimidating. And you want to be very selective because of your finances, timeline, and sanity may depend on it! Here is my advice when choosing an international adoption agency.
First and foremost be in prayer and allow God to lead your decision; He knows where your littles will be! Have a good idea of the country or region you would like to adopt from before looking for an agency, and ask yourself some tough questions. What age range, race, gender, and disability level are you willing to accept? What is your timeline and budget? Talking about these questions will get you ready to discuss them with an agency so you are not blindsided with them all at once! Also, having these major questions worked out will help you avoid an agency steering you to a country where they need more adoptive parents, not where you feel led.
Now that you have worked all that out it’s time to find an agency. Here are seven things to consider when choosing the right international agency for you!
Do your homework on the country or countries you are interested in. As you search, you will find agencies who specialize in that country. Watch adoption stories on YouTube from that country, use Facebook to find groups or pages for people adopting from or that have adopted from that country.
Talk to as many people as you can find, and ask them what agency they used. You want to find out if they would use that international adoption agency again, how was the communication, how was the travel arrangements, was the agency timeline and price accurate to what they paid?
Do not go with the first agency you find; you have options! The international adoption agency you use does not need to be in the state you live, you may never actually meet your caseworker. The only agency worker I ever met was in country! Contact several agencies before deciding on THE ONE. Call them, ask to talk with a caseworker for your country, ask them to mail or email you the country program fee schedule, and ask any other questions you may have. You will be spending a lot of money with them, consider this a job interview for them
Look for an agency that has been in the country of your choice for several years. Those agencies will have established good relationships with the orphanages and governments in your chosen country. This will make a huge difference. If you are really adventurous you could help an agency pilot a program in a new county, but make sure the agency has been working in similar countries.
5. Research again.
After you have narrowed the agencies you feel comfortable with, do your research on the agency. Every agency must be licensed by a state authority, and make sure you understand the difference between being licensed and being accredited. Look them up on Better Business Bureau. Read reviews, good and bad. When looking at a poor review check the date it was written. The agency may have taken that review to heart and updated policies or undergone staffing changes to alleviate those problems.
6. Agency references.
Ask for and contact references from the agency. Of course agency references will be good, but they can answer truthfully about communication between them and their caseworker, accuracy of the time frame, and travel experiences.
7. Small or large.
Sometimes bigger isn’t always better. It’s easy to become just a number to the largest, most well-known agencies. Using a smaller international adoption agency may give you the one-on-one feel you are looking for, and less competition may mean faster placements. On the other hand, you may not need your hand held and feel a larger agency will know exactly how to get the job done.
Again, pray for God to lead you. After all this you will have a good feeling and connection with an agency. It will more than likely be THE ONE!
If you are ready to adopt an orphan and begin your foreign adoption journey, visit Adoption.com/international.
Samantha Morgan is a two-time adoptive mom and infertility survivor. Experienced in international and domestic adoption, Samantha loves sharing her motherhood story and experiences to help others find hope in their journey. Founder of Rush to Hope Ministries, she strives to build connections between people with similar paths so no one has to walk alone. You can read more from Samantha or get connected at RushtoHopeMinistries.com.