Whether you have worked through grief associated infertility, or you are now able to legally marry your partner (about time!), your decision to build your family through adoption has already been a journey. Domestic Infant Adoption organizations are numerous, and a quick Google search can produce an overwhelming amount of options.  With 70 years of domestic adoption experience, the Barker Adoption Foundation can help you find a reputable agency that meets your needs.  Here are some key factors to consider as you begin.  

1. Birth Parent Counseling & Ethics

Pregnancy counseling and ethical adoption practice should be a priority.  As a new waiting parent, it is easy to focus solely on welcoming a baby into your life as soon as possible. As your child grows older, however, you will want to earnestly tell them that their birth parents were treated with the respect and compassion that they deserved. Adoptees are comforted by the knowledge that birth parents received counseling as they thoughtfully considered a loving adoption plan. Also, when agencies hold high ethical standards and supportive birth parent services, it contributes to a legally sound adoption overall.

2. Birth Family Matching: There are two main methods agencies use to match adoptive families with birth families, and it is helpful to evaluate your preference before selecting an agency.

Traditionally, adoption agencies will share adoptive family profiles with birth families when each family’s criteria aligns. Examples of decision factors might include family composition, race, religion, lifestyle, or a desire for open adoption. The agency informs the adoptive parents when they have been selected and provides background information about the birth family and pregnancy.

Alternatively, many agencies encourage active engagement from adoptive parents during the waiting process. Families are informed of potential birth parent scenarios, and they will tell the agency if they would like be considered each time. Some families appreciate the pro-active nature of this model that provides frequent updates about new possible cases, whereas others find it emotionally challenging to be invested in every potential placement. 

3. Agency Philosophy on Open Adoption

Each birth parent situation is unique, but there are varying philosophies surrounding openness that agencies employ. Open adoption refers to some level of ongoing contact between the adoptive family and the birth family. Some agencies facilitate this contact by serving as a liaison between the birth family and adoptive family, especially in the early years. Other agencies promote direct birth parent contact from the start.   “Semi-open adoption” typically refers to meeting the birth parents once prior to delivery, followed by annual photos and letters sent through the agency, without subsequent visits. In current adoption practice, it is rare that a domestic infant adoption is completely closed with no birth parent contact, updates, or visits.

4. Demographics of Region 

When researching out-of-area agencies, it will be important to inquire about the demographic trends of the children each places to ensure that they align with your knowledge of what works best for your family. 

5. Transparency of Fees

Many different factors are involved with the adoption fees.  When engaging with a potential agency, it is important to understand what the fees are, what purposes they serve, and what fees are considered “at risk.” And if these terms aren't familiar, it's best to seek clarity with each possible agency.

After an already long journey that brought you to the conclusion that adoption is right for your family it is tempting to move as quickly as possible with an agency.  As with most things in life, you get out of the experience what you put in and with such an important choice, thoughtful research will almost always yield the best choice for your family.