One of the most important decisions you can make in the adoption process is about which agency to use. Justin and I knew that we wanted to do a domestic infant adoption and this helped us narrow down our options quickly. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…
At their core, adoption agencies work to match children with families. However, there is a lot of variation in how this is accomplished. For us, it was important that our agency is transparent in its number of placements and costs, how it finds and counsels birth parents, that it be LGBT friendly, and does not require a religious affiliation. Surprisingly, these were excellent criteria for narrowing down agencies. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to be honest with yourself about what you want and/or need in an agency.
Don’t laugh, but I started our agency search with a Google search for “Colorado infant adoption.” You would be amazed at the number of agencies that came up in this one search. I was able to cross many off of the list due to being national adoption agencies or matching organizations as we wanted a Colorado-based agency. From there, the next most useful limiting criteria was the religion issue (which overlaps with the LGBT stuff). Many adoption agencies are affiliated with Christian denominations and often require that prospective adoptive parents belong to that particular religion or sign some sort of faith document. I was able to narrow down the list quite a bit because Justin and I weren’t interested in those requirements in the slightest. While I grew up Catholic, I no longer practice. Justin’s upbringing didn’t include any religious aspects.
After narrowing down our options (and feeling discouraged at times), we ultimately decided to go to infant adoption information nights with two agencies. The purpose of an information night is for potential adoptive families to learn more about the agency in terms of how the agency works, the number of families it works with, average timeframes, and costs.
Only Justin and I were at the first information night. The person we met with was nice, but it was quickly apparent that this agency wouldn’t be a good fit for us. For starters, the agency requires adoptive parents to sign paperwork pertaining to their religious affiliation. While their website stated that they work with families of all faiths, ours is not one of them. The other worry was my perceived lack of LGBT-friendliness on their part. The person we spoke with stated that they only recently started accepting LGBT families because of the legalization of gay marriage in Colorado. I get it (sort of), but even still, this erases the existence of bisexual and trangender couples who appear heterosexual. Not cool. Further, this particular agency had a waitlist for its waitlist. In other words, there would have a been a two-year wait to even get to the point where a birth mom could pick us and then the average wait time is two years. Definitely not ideal.
Our second information night was a much better experience. First off, there were approximately ten couples at the meeting of all ages, races, and sexualities. It was a very diverse group. The agency is non-secular. Sometimes birth moms look for religious couples (and that’s okay), but it’s not required by the agency. On average, the wait time is twenty-six months. In all, this was a much better fit for us and our ultimate choice.
If you’re thinking about adoption, I strongly suggest the following when deciding on an agency:
- Have an honest moment with yourself (and your significant other or spouse) about what’s important to you in terms of your values.
- Carefully review each agency’s website. You might be able to save yourself a lot of time by weeding out poor fits.
- Ask lots of questions and don’t be shy about it. If you decide to go with an agency, you’re signing up for a long-term relationship. Get answers to your questions!
In the next part, I’ll talk about the initial application and the home study process. Let me know if there are things you would like me to focus on in the comments.