Choosing the right adoption attorney, agency, or facilitator is a critical first step in creating your adoption plan. The following is a list of questions I have created to assist prospective adoptive parents with their investigation. I recommend that you fully research and interview the professionals you seek to hire and be sure not to simply settle on a program because you think they are all the same. There are a myriad of great adoption programs throughout the country and each vary greatly in their methodology, requirements and philosophy. Focus on finding adoption professionals who: 1) can bring you success; 2) you connect with; 3) can mitigate your risks; and, critically, 4) whose methodology and philosophy on adoption and the adoption process match your own.
I. Can Your Program Do The Job?
It is important to assess whether the adoption program you are interested in will be able to produce the results you seek. Exercise caution if people are not able to quantify the success rate of their program or are unwilling to share statistical information. You also should be wary of people who state that they already have a birth mother waiting for you or who make representations that sound too good to be true.
Questions To Ask:
1. What is the average wait time for a prospective adoptive parent to be matched with a birth mother in your program?
2. What is the average wait time for a similarly situated client when the client wishes to control any of the following: age, gender, ethnicity, open vs. closed adoption, health of baby, drug use, birth mother living expense budget, etc.?
3. What is the success and failure rate that clients experience in your program?
4. What is your method for finding birth mothers who want to place their baby for adoption through your program?
5. Why do you think birth mothers choose to work with your program over others?
6. Do you search for birth mothers nationally or locally and how is this done?
7. How many babies did you place last year and how many clients did you have?
8. Are you an attorney, licensed adoption agency or an adoption facilitator and why does that benefit me/us?
9. What other adoption professionals will I/we need and how do I/we/you find and integrate them into our adoption plan?
10. I am a resident of ________, am I permitted to use your services?
11. What do I/we do if the birth mother who selects us is in a state in which you are not licensed or the services you provide are not compliant with the laws of that state?
II. Is Your Methodology Right For Me/Us
The means by which you adopt are as important as the ends. It is critical that you are able to feel good about the way your birth mother was treated and the methodology that was employed by the adoption professionals you hired. Moreover, adoption professionals tend to set rules for their programs based upon their own personal beliefs on who should be permitted to adopt, how selective a client should be and the level of client involvement they feel should be required. Adoption is a very intimate endeavor and you owe it to yourself to find a program that is the right fit for you.
Questions To Ask:
1. May we select:
A. Age of child
B. Gender of child
C. Ethnicity of child
D. Level of contact we wish to have with birth mother (open vs. closed adoption)
E. Whether drug use is acceptable to me/us
F. The level of health we require to be able to go forward with an adoption
G. The budget for birth mother living expenses
2. Will I/we have to create my/our own birth mother letter and/or website page or will you assist?
3. What type of screening requirements do you have for birth mothers?
4. Are all clients equally presented to every birth mother or do you employ some type of criteria for whom is presented to whom?
5. How much of a role do you play in family selection process made by a birth mother?
6. Do we field calls or e-mails from birth mothers or will you prescreen the birth mothers before we speak to them?
7. Will we only meet a birth mother who already has selected us to adopt or will we be interviewed along with other prospective parents and then told later whether we were chosen by a birth mother we already have met.
8. Will we be apprised of how many birth mothers are being exposed to our profile/webpage?
9. How often will I/we hear from you during the waiting process?
10. How long will I/we have to decide whether to match with a birth mother who is interested in me/us?
11. Will our birth mother receive counseling if she desires it?
12. Will our birth mother receive independent legal counsel?
13. Do you have birth mother housing available for our birth mother?
14. Do you have doctors you work with or can recommend to handle prenatal care for our birth mother?
15. What types of support do birth mothers receive before and after the baby is born?
16. Will I/we have to handle financial matters directly with my/our birth mother or is it handled through your program?
17. What type of support will we receive from your program before and after placement?
18. What requirements will you have for me/us to be eligible to adopt through your program?
19. Does your program assist with post-contact agreements (e.g., facilitating a yearly picture and letter exchange if desired)?
20. Does your program have a religious affiliation?
III. Is Your Program Reputable?
In addition to checking an adoption professional’s better business bureau rating, researching lawsuits brought against the company or professional, visiting the State Attorney General website to check for actions taken against the entity or person, checking for discipline records and reviewing internet blogs, reviewing articles and comments about the program and professionals you are considering working with, I recommend asking some of the following types of questions:
1. How long has your domestic adoption program been in existence?
2. Has you company/agency/law firm/program changed its name or filed for bankruptcy in the past?
3. May I have contact information for 2-5 past clients whom I can call or e-mail regarding their experience in your program?
4. May I review brochures, newsletters, review outreach and advertising materials sent to or published for birth mothers?
5. Do you have a written retainer/fee agreement/fee schedule I can review?
6. What is the birth mother advertising and outreach budget for your program?
7. What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of your program?
8. What is your Better Business Bureau rating?
IV. What are the Costs of Adopting Through Your Program?
1. What are your fees and when do they have to be paid?
2. Do I have to pay a Match fee prior to speaking with or meeting a birth mother?
3. What is your best estimate of the birth mother living expenses I will have to cover?
4. What is your best estimate of the third party fees I will have to pay if I use your program?
5. How long do the fees I/we pay entitle us to your services?
6. What portion of your fees are refundable and for what reasons?
7. If I/we experience a failed adoption or we decide not to go forward with a specific birth mother, will we have to pay addition monies to continue with your program?
8. Are your fees a flat fee or based on the hours you spend on my/our case?