Before we began the adoption process, we had a to make a lot of really difficult and grueling decisions. Recently, I have had several friends from college/home/life reach out to me asking questions about how we got started along this journey just about a year ago. We are definitely not experts by any means, but I just thought it might be helpful for me to share a little bit about how we got started as a reference to anyone else who may be considering adoption. There are a few of these decisions that I have a lot to write about, so I decided to split them up so that it's not an overwhelming amount of writing (you know I tend to ramble).
#1 Choosing an Adoption Agency
Picking an adoption agency is one of the easiest, but most important decisions we made going into the adoption process. For us, we really knew in the back of our minds because of our church and community that we would choose Lifeline Children's Services, but we definitely looked at others. We have several close friends who work at Lifeline, and lots of friends and church members who have adopted and become foster parents through Lifeline, so we already knew a lot about the people behind the agency. But, we also were looking for a few specific things in an agency, and if Lifeline had not had those things, it may have been a deal breaker (thankfully they met our very intense :-/ criteria).
- Hague Accreditation: The Hague Convention protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. This Convention, which operates through a system of national Central Authorities, reinforces the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and seeks to ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights. It also seeks to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children. More information here.
- Local: Many times, it's not necessarily important if your agency is local or not, but for us it was. We just really like face-to-face interactions, or at least the ability to have them. We really wanted an agency that was in Birmingham.
- Faith-based: For us, adoption is a calling from the Lord, and we wanted an agency that understood that and respected/embraced that about us. We appreciate that Lifeline begins all of our meetings with prayer, and we know that they're praying for us and our adoption journey. It is helpful and comforting to us to work with like-minded social workers, case workers, and agency staff.
- Supported domestic and international adoptions: We were not sure going into the process if we would want to adopt domestically or internationally. It was important to us to find an agency that had both programs.
- Has several international programs: Again, we weren't sure if we wanted to pursue domestic or international adoption, and if international, we didn't know which country. We really wanted to find an agency that had several international programs so that we could learn about and begin praying about where the Lord was leading us.
A few things to also keep in mind as a bonus:
- What are the agency fees?
- Do they have birth mother counseling (domestic adoptions only)?
- What partnerships do they have overseas (international adoptions only)?
- What education do they require?
- How many (if any) licensed social workers do they have on staff?
- What is the home study process?
- What kind of post adoption care do they provide?
Over the last (almost) year, we've grown to love and appreciate our agency more and more. This journey is long, hard, and many times difficult, and it's so important to find the agency that is going to be right for your family.
The Christian Alliance for Orphans' list of faith-based agencies: Click here
The U.S. Department of Human Resources' (DHR) list of agencies by state: Click here
The U.S. Department of State's list of agencies: Click here