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Choosing the Right Adoption Agency

Are you pregnant and thinking about adoption for your child? This is the time to surround yourself with support and gather information to make the best decision for yourself and your baby. You need to know how to choose an adoption agency that will put your needs first so that your experience is one of love and empowerment.

The best adoption agency services in Pennsylvania are those that honor and respect birth moms and their decisions throughout the adoption process. Even if you have not decided whether to place your child for adoption, it’s a good idea to research and start talking to an adoption agency that can help you understand the process and your rights.

 

Understanding Different Types of Adoption Agencies

Once you begin researching how to find an adoption agency that is right for you, the options may seem overwhelming. There are a few different categories of adoption, and most agencies specialize in one or two of those categories. The first step in picking your adoption agency is to narrow down the type you seek.

 

Private Adoption Agencies

A private adoption agency is the most common type for women experiencing an unexpected pregnancy and wishing to give their baby up for adoption. In a private adoption, you as the birth mom are empowered to make most of the decisions about who will adopt your baby. All services for expectant mothers and birth mothers are free and funded by the prospective adoptive parents. 

Private adoption agencies handle voluntary adoptions, which means that you are the decision maker until you place your baby with the adoptive family you choose. after placement, you will sign paperwork consenting to the adoption that voluntarily terminates your parental rights to the child. If you choose an open adoption plan, you can still have an ongoing relationship with your child and the adoptive family, but they will be the legal parents.

 

Public Adoption Agencies

One big difference between private vs. public adoption agencies is who owns or operates them. Public adoption agencies are run by county or state agencies under the Department of Human Services. They are funded by tax dollars, and their purpose is to facilitate adoptions for children who have been placed under Child Protective Services, more widely known as Foster Care.

The second big difference for private vs. public adoption is the birth mother’s rights. In a public adoption scenario, the child is typically in the foster care system rather than under the mother’s guardianship. The mother’s parental rights must be legally terminated by a judge before the child is able to be adopted by another family. Public adoption agencies handle infant adoption from foster care and older child adoption from foster care. 

 

International Adoption Agencies

International adoption agencies are private adoption agencies that focus only on international adoption. These agencies often work with just one (or maybe a few) country outside the U.S. due to the regulations and compliance work involved in international adoption.

Since the laws for international adoption are controlled by the sending nation, international adoption agencies are not always fully licensed in their state and may not offer the same services as a domestic adoption agency. For example, Haven Adoptions is a fully licensed PA adoption agency, and we provide home study services to thoroughly evaluate and qualify every prospective parent who wishes to adopt a child.

 

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Adoption Agency

Adoption is an amazing paradox. As one of our birth moms said, “Had I loved him any less, one ounce less, he would be with me now. My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart.”

Your decision to place your baby for adoption is made from true love and wanting your child to be raised in a family that will love them as much as you do. The adoption agency you choose should honor this and fully support you as a mom who loves her baby. When you wonder what is the best adoption agency for you, it’s important to notice how they make you feel from the first moment of contact. Following are several other factors to consider in your search.

 

Reputation and Reviews

What are other birth moms saying about the adoption agency and how they were cared for? Does the agency have a reputation for personalizing care and physically being there for birth moms? Read through each agency’s reviews on social media and Google. Once you reach out, ask if they have any birth moms who are willing to share their experiences, or if they have reference letters written by previous clients.

 

Services Offered

What sets the best adoption agencies apart is the services they provide for birth mothers. Since adoptive families pay most of the fees for adoption, providing comprehensive services to birth moms is not a priority at every agency. We believe wholeheartedly that it should be. As the birth mom, you deserve to be educated about your rights, counseled through your decision, and supported throughout your pregnancy and long after. 

Review the full range of support for birth mothers at each potential agency. Things you should look for include:

  • A personal caseworker and advocate
  • Education about the adoption process and your rights
  • Fully customized adoption plans
  • Peer support groups
  • Counseling during pregnancy and post placement
  • Ongoing support after the adoption is complete
  • Legal assistance or advice
  • Medical and hospital support

 

Customized Adoption Plans

Personalization and transparency are vital to a trusting relationship with your adoption agency. Check out each agency’s process for qualifying adoptive families. Look for clues about whether they are simply trying to move people off the waitlist or are truly invested in matching birth moms and adoptive families who are the best fit for one another. This might look like:

  • Providing a no pressure system of support that empowers birth moms to make the right decision for themselves and their baby
  • Matching birth moms and adoptive parents who want the same level of open or closed adoption
  • Presenting families based on the birth mom’s preferences
  • Never presenting a family who has not completed the home study process

 

Experience and Expertise

Experienced adoption agencies that are fully licensed in Pennsylvania have the expertise to navigate every twist and turn on your adoption journey. The more years of experience your agency has, the more likely they are to have dealt with the complexities of adoption. Take a look at the agency’s About page and their reviews to make sure they know how to handle every challenge with compassion and calm reassurance.

 

Support and Counseling

The way an adoption agency serves birth moms is one of the best ways to verify that they are in the business of caring for people. You’re putting a lot of trust into the people who facilitate your child’s adoption, so they had better be acting in your best interest. Look for services like:

  • A dedicated caseworker who advocates for you
  • Pre-adoption education, counseling, and peer support
  • Post-adoption support and resources
  • 24/7 availability for all of your questions and concerns

The most important factor to consider in picking an adoption agency is how they make you feel when you check out their resources or you speak with someone. If they make you uncomfortable in any way or pressure you about your decision, keep looking. This is the biggest decision of your life, and your adoption agency needs to respect and support you through it.

 

Questions to Ask a Potential Adoption Agency

Before you choose your adoption agency, consider interviewing them about their services. You might want to speak with a few agencies to make sure you’re working with the one that is the best fit for you. These are just a few questions to get your conversation started:

  • Are you licensed in Pennsylvania? (Or the state the agency in question is physically located.)
  • Do you have any accreditations or affiliations with professional organizations?
  • Do you offer open and closed adoption plans?
  • Will I be able to choose my child’s adoptive family?
  • How can I be sure the families are ready to adopt?
  • Can I request that my child be placed with a family of the same race as me, or of the same religion?
  • Do you offer counseling before the adoption and post-adoption?
  • Can I talk to other birth moms for peer support?
  • What are the steps for adoption for birth moms?
  • Can I wait to decide until after my baby is born?
  • Can someone explain the entire contract to me so that I know exactly what my rights are?

Once you are speaking with a caseworker, more questions will come to mind. When you feel as though the answers you receive align with what you are looking for, you’ll know you have found your best adoption agency.

 

Closing

Just the very thought of placing your child for adoption brings on a ton of emotions. That can make it difficult to think of all the things you need to ask or find out before you choose your adoption agency. The good news is that support is available! Adoption agencies that put the needs of birth mothers first will meet you exactly where you are with kindness, respect, and compassion.

Do your research, ask lots of questions, and take some time to think about what is the best adoption agency for you and your child. We at Haven Adoptions would love to meet you and learn your story. Please contact us to learn more about our unique adoption services for birth moms.

About the Author

Kelly Weidner is a co-founder of Haven Adoptions, Inc., and is a a well respected advocate in the adoption community. In that time, she has lead Haven Adoptions in connecting countless children with loving homes. Kelly is a member of the National Association for Professional Women, on the Executive Committee of the Our Lady of Mercy Board of Jurisdiction and lives in Ambler, PA with her three children.
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