Questions to ask adoption agency references – what you should ask and why + a BONUS just for you


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questions to ask adoption agency references

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Trying to find the right adoption agency to help build your family can be a daunting task. Most hopeful adoptive families get overwhelmed with how to choose – and for good reason. There are over 2000 agencies and attorneys in the U.S. – so where do you start? Thankfully, there are some resources to help – such as these:

4 Domestic adoption agencies with sliding scale fees

Domestic adoption agency reviews: 3 agencies with little or no upfront costs

5 websites to help you find an agency or attorney

As you know, not all agencies or attorneys are the perfect fit for everyone. It can be risky if you choose an agency or attorney without talking to anyone who has successfully adopted with them. The flip side is also true – it can be risky to choose an agency only because you know one family had a good experience with them. There is no guarantee you will have that same experience.

In episode 15 of the Infant Adoption Guide podcast, we went through: 

7 Common mistakes to avoid when selecting an adoption agency

Steering clear of these mistakes will definitely help in your research to choose the right agency. In that episode I talked about the mistake of not getting enough (or any) references from adoption agencies. It is super important to ask agencies and/or attorneys for references that you can contact – either by phone (which is preferable) or by email. 

These references are people who have worked with that agency and have successfully adopted. What better way can you find out what an agency is like – than to ask people who have already adopted with them?

What reference families can do for you

I remember when my wife and I were researching, we narrowed down our list of possible agencies and then asked them all for references. We called and emailed at least 3 references per agency. These adoptive families provided some great insight because they’ve already worked with the agencies – and successfully adopted. It is amazing the information you can learn from folks who have done what you want so desperately to do – build your family.

You might be surprised to know that not all were great reviews – which is important. Getting honest answers is what you are looking for. People usually will answer your questions directly – not always providing more than what you are asking for – which is understandable. This is why it is essential to ask the appropriate questions

My wife and I certainly asked lots of questions and we learned which ones got the best and most helpful answers. I’ve also been on the opposite end where we’ve been a reference family – meaning people would contact us about our experiences. So I’ve seen a lot of what is good to ask, and what isn’t so effective.

Your quick “to-do” list:

1. Get your adoption agency/attorney list narrowed down. Less than 10 is good – maybe even get it down to 5. Then contact each agency and ask for their reference contact information – names, phone numbers and email addresses. Be sure to get at least three references from them.

2. Call or email the references – be very polite and thank them for taking the time to answer. Collect and write down their answers so you can compare the agencies (see my BONUS at the end of this post).

OK – Here are my tried and true questions to ask references:

When was your adoption completed – how long ago did you adopt through the agency?

How long did the process take – from when you signed a contract with them until match and placement?

What average wait times did the agency share with you before you started with them?

Were you presented with potential matches that fell through or you didn’t feel comfortable pursuing? If so, what happened?

Did you finalize the adoption in another state (where the birthmother lives)?

Did you have any issues bringing the baby back to your state – how long did you have to wait in another state?

Who at the adoption agency did you most closely work with?

What were your preferences – such as newborn, girl/boy, risk factors, race, or special needs were you open to?

Did your child match what you were seeking in your preferences?

How close were the cost estimates that the agency gave you?

Were there any hidden or surprise costs? If yes, what were they?

What was the total cost of your adoption?

If you adopted from another state, did you end up paying higher legal fees to work through the Interstate Compact?

Did the agency tell you as soon as possible about any medical or legal problems? How did that affect your adoption?

Did you have any problems with the agency? If so, how were they resolved?

Did you ever feel the agency was impatient with your questions or how often you communicated with them?

How promptly did they return phone calls and send information?

Were they helpful when you were traveling to adopt from another state?

Did they do everything that they said they would?  

Would you recommend them to a friend/family member?

Would you use this agency again?

What was the biggest reason why you chose to work with this agency?

Is there anything you would change about this agency?

If you feel this list is a bit long to ask someone right off, narrow down the number of questions at first. Then see if the reference would be willing to answer additional questions. Armed with these questions, you should be well on your way to finding the right adoption agency or attorney to help build your family.

BONUS TIME: Just for you – I’ve put all of these questions in a document you can print out so you can write the answers down as you get them. Cool, huh?

Click here to get all the questions to ask in a printable document

Question for you: Do you have any questions you would add to this list? Click here to share them in the comments below.

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