Questions to Ask Adoption Agencies

If you’ve seen or read about The Bridgers' adoption, then you have heard their hard story of almost falling victims to child trafficking. Like most people walking into the adoption world, the Bridgers were kind, good-hearted people who, at first, did not know what questions to ask along the way that would truly protect against unethical practices.

Today we’ve teamed up with the fine folks at Agape of Central Alabama. They are an Alabama based nonprofit adoption agency seeking permanency for children, that we met while in the Congo. They have been kind enough to share a list of questions that you can ask your adoption agency to help ensure that you are working with an ethical organization. 

You can find these questions listed below, and we ask that you really take some time and dig into them. Maybe even come up with some questions of your own. What is important to you when it comes your adoption? The more knowledge you have in this area will help you and your agency make better and more informed decisions. These decisions impact the life of a child and potentially their family, and we believe they deserve your very best.

Questions from the Director of Permanency Planning, Megan Malinoski and Executive Director, Jimmy Dobbs to ask your agency:

1. Is your agency for-profit or non-profit (501-c-3)? If the agency is a non-profit, you can pull their 990 tax returns online, which will include amounts spent on services versus administration and fundraising, a list of Board of Directors, excess revenue or loss in prior years. 

2. What are the core principles that underline all that you do? What is the one thing you want to accomplish? Follow up question: What are your policies and procedures that align with your principles and goals?

3. How long should I expect to wait for a child? What can I do to shorten that wait? {the second question is a trick question which will reflect the agency’s values in practice) the way I (Megan, Director of Permanency Planning from Agape) would answer that question would be: 
The only thing that could possibly decrease wait time for domestic adoption is to be open to: 
1. a child of either gender
2. all races
3. willing to have an open adoption. 
We do not look for a child for your family; we wait to see what child will need your family and there is no guarantee as to how long that will take. This is ultimately the Lord's timing and we do not rush anything to get a baby for your family quickly.}

4. How do you set your fees? What do your fees cover? Under what circumstances are fees refunded? Are there donations and/or grants to help underwrite your adoption services? What specific amounts go to which specific parties? And under what circumstances would those amounts change and why? 

5. How do you support birth families before and after the adoption? {this is, to me (Megan from Agape), the most important question.}

6. May I speak with another family who has gone through a similar situation/country? 

7. How do you feel about 3rd party investigations into the child's background? {mainly for international}

8. As an agency, do you ever turn a family down? If so, why? 

9. What is your philosophy of on-going contact between adoptive family, birth family and child? How does this typically happen? 

10. How many complaints has your agency received in the past 2 years? What were the primary reasons for the complaints? How are complaints resolved?

We encourage you to press for honesty, transparency, and a willingness to engage in the hard questions. Asking these and other important questions can be the start of a partnership toward an ethical adoption process, and one that seeks not only the child’s best interest but that protects both the vulnerable and adoptive family as well. 

(A few photos from our time with Megan and Jimmy while in the Congo!)