an Adoption Agency
By Sara Myers
One of the first and most important steps in your adoption process will
be selecting an agency to work with. Once chosen, the agency will be the
key player in placing a child in your home, so it’s obviously important
that you understand their processes and their policies. Less obvious,
perhaps, is that the people at your agency are destined to become your
friends, your confidants, and your most longed-for contacts; so making
sure they are folks you’re comfortable with is essential as well.
Whether you find agencies on the internet, through friends, or in the
yellow pages, you should begin by making an appointment to get to know
them. If the agency is near your home, meeting the representatives face-to-face
is preferable. Not only will it feel more personal, but meeting in person
is more likely to give you an immediate sense of what the agency is like.
If the agency is not nearby (some families work with agencies that are
out-of-town, or even out-of-state), you may need to talk by telephone
more than once to get a true impression.
At your initial meeting you are likely to be nervous and excited at the
prospect of starting on your adoption journey. To make sure you get all
the information you want, compile a list of questions before your appointment.
Print them out with plenty of room to write the responses, so you don’t
end up with an unintelligible list of notes when you get home. You will
be absorbing an awful lot of information at the meeting, and although
you may be convinced you’ll remember it all, some detail is bound to slip
your mind if you don’t jot it down.
While gathering data is half the point of the agency interview, getting
to know the people involved is the other, equally important, half. Ask
yourself during the meeting whether you feel comfortable with the agency
representatives’ personalities and styles of communication. Do they instill
a sense of confidence in you? Do they seem knowledgeable and experienced?
Are they comfortable working with families like yours? A personal rapport
with the agency folks may seem trivial at the beginning, but the middle
of the complicated - and very emotional - adoption process is not the
time to discover you don’t get along.
By the time you read this article, you likely have plenty of questions
to ask already. Supplement your own list by asking advice from families
in the process and from those who have completed adoptions. Ask your close
friends and family members what they’d like to know, since they will be
providing you essential moral support throughout the adoption. The following
list of questions is not meant to be definitive, but to give you ideas
of what you might like to know. Now gather up your questions and agency
telephone numbers and start making those calls!
Questions you may wish to ask include:
- Tell me about your Vietnam program. Leaving the question open-ended
may give you details or raise issues that you have not previously thought
- Do I qualify to adopt from Vietnam?
- Does your agency set restrictions based on age, gender, religion,
weight, family size, marital status, family structure or anything else
that may disqualify me? It is important to understand that some agencies
impose their own rules that are not set by the Vietnam program.
- Tell me about your agency’s experience working with families like
mine. Leaving the question open-ended may give you a better indication
of your agency’s background working with families similar to yours.
Whether this means those adopting after dealing with infertility issues,
those with biological children, adopting their first child, older parents,
nontraditional families, or whatever else may define your family - it
is important that you feel comfortable with your agency’s understanding
- Who is the facilitator you work with in Vietnam? Domestic agencies
must work with an agency or facilitator in Vietnam. It is important
to know about both organizations before you begin your adoption.
- What parts of the process do you perform and what is the role of the
- How long have you worked with the facilitator?
- How do you communicate with the facilitator (telephone, e-mail, fax)?
How often? How responsive is the facilitator when you have questions?
- How many babies/children has the facilitator placed during their time
working in Vietnam? In the past year?
- What humanitarian work does the facilitator perform in Vietnam?
- Who cares for the babies/children in Vietnam while they wait to be
- How does the facilitator locate babies/children available for adoption?
- What medical tests are performed on the babies/children before they
are referred to families?
- Can the facilitator provide data about the reliability of their testing?
- What other health issues should I be aware of?
- Can I choose the gender and age of the child I want to adopt? How
likely is a child of this gender and age to be available?
- How many babies/children have you placed during your time working
with the Vietnam program? In the past year?
- How do you communicate with adopting families?
- What are your hours? When are you available? How responsive are you
when families have questions?
- How long can I expect the entire process to take?
- Can you give me a breakdown of the time each step of the process is
likely to take?
- How much do you assist me with compiling the required paperwork?
- How much can I expect the entire process to cost?
- Can you give me a breakdown of the cost of each part of the process
and explain when the money is due?
- Is any of the money refundable if an adoption is not completed?
- Do you offer any classes?
- Do you offer any support groups for waiting parents?
- Will you give me referrals for families (preferably like mine) who
have recently completed their adoptions?
Sara Myers is mom to Jacob (adopted
in Vietnam in 1997), Alexander (adopted in the U.S. in 1998), 3 cats, and
1 very large dog.