A good friend of mine from Austin, Lee Rothenflue texted me the other day asking what advice I would give to a couple he knew who was considering adopting from Ethiopia. While we don’t know all the ins and outs yet, we have learned quite a bit in our adoption process and I was able to pass along a couple of tips that I thought would be helpful. It also got me thinking that there might be other folks out there who would benefit from what we’ve learned. So we’re adding a new category to the blog that will include tips and lessons we’ve learned through our own process. Hopefully it will be helpful to other prospective adoptive families. Please note that these tips will mostly apply to people adopting internationally as we’ve never adopted domestically.
One of the most important tips we could ever pass along is to find a good agency. International adoptions are extremely complicated with multiple governmental agencies requiring different paperwork and certifications before allowing an adoption to go through. There are many issues that can come up during international adoptions and you need to have an agency that knows how to navigate all the bureaucracies and red tape that go along with the process.
Obviously you can Google “adoption agency” and you’ll get a ton of results. Of course you don’t really know whether any of these agencies are good or not. It’s better to look up organizations that help adoptive parents and see who they recommend. For example, the Abba Fund, a group that provides grants and loans for adoptive parents has a great list of agencies on their site – click here to get it. Go through their list and look for others. Read about those agencies and see which ones are licensed in your state. When you get a good list together, narrow it down to a handful that you want to learn more about.
When you’ve narrowed down your list of agencies here are a few things to consider.
- How old is the agency? We wouldn’t use an agency that’s brand new. Most people learn from their mistakes. You don’t want to be their training project.
- How old is their program in the country from which you’re adopting? The same rule applies here. There are many agencies that have been around for a long time but are new to international adoption or to the country you’re adopting from. Again, you don’t want to be their case study as they launch a new program.
- Are they Hague Accredited? If not, you should avoid them. Don’t take any chances.
- What do other adoptive parents say about them? Really there’s no better reference for an agency than people who’ve already used them. Ask around and find friends and friends of friends who’ve adopted and ask them about their agency. People love to talk about this stuff and it’s easy to find all you need to know from people who’ve already done it.
We hope this is helpful. If you’re struggling with choosing an agency or anything else about adoption, please leave a comment. We would love to help in any way we can.