This is a big step and a big deal. I am not an expert on this, but I can maybe share some things to think about.
Jake and I went the route of deciding on what country we would adopt from first, and then this helped us narrow down our search for agencies. That’s just one way to start, and there are a slew of others. Keep in mind that many countries often have qualifications/specifications for adoptive families. These qualifications will be listed on agency websites for each country. Some countries have a specific age that they require the adoptive parents to be before they can adopt….on average this age is 25 years. Some countries specify a sort of ‘cap’ on children already in the home that a family can have heading into an adoption. Some countries require the prospective adoptive parents to have been married for a certain number of years. All of these things can play into where you eventually land on adopting from.
Some agencies have their own qualifications for prospective parents as well. For instance, one of the first agencies we looked into was America World Adoption. However, I found in their qualifications section that the youngest child in our home had to be at least 6 months old. At the time we started looking into agencies, Jayla was only 4 months old, so this agency did not end up being an option for us.
Another thing to consider is if you have a certain age of child/children you are picturing adopting. If you would like to experience adopting a newborn, you will probably want to start with looking into a domestic adoption….again let me highlight that being for a newborn. There are many countries that have infants available for adoption, but just keep in mind that if your child is 4 months old at the time of referral, you may not actually be bringing he/she home until 6 months to 2 years later depending how the rest of your process goes. Some countries, like Ghana, very rarely have infants available for adoption. There are always exceptions to this generalization, but Ghana for instance mostly has children available that are 1 year and older. This again is because there are not many orphanages in Ghana, so birthmothers don’t have that as an option. Generally the birthmothers in Ghana will care for their child as long as they can nurse. After that, finding outside help is literally a life or death scenario.
Those are just a few initial things to think about. When you actually start filing through agencies, I would suggest that first and foremost you would do the good old ‘word of mouth’ approach. Which agencies have any of your friends, family, or people at your church used? What was their experience with their agency? If you don’t have any contacts of those who have adopted, the great thing is that agencies have a list of families who have used their agency that you can call or email. This is a tremendous resource in being able to ask really anything you want about the agency from someone who has actually used them for an adoption. We are on the list to be contacted for our agency if any prospective parents have questions, and we’ve been contacted a few times.
Below I am including a few agencies that my friends have used, and have had good things to say about. This list is by no means all-inclusive…..just people I know who had a good experience with their agency. One thing to note, if you end up going with a large, national agency (such as the first one listed - America World), you will be required to complete your home study with a licensed case worker in your state. If you need a case worker for home studies in Iowa, this is our case worker and she does independent home studies as well:
Homestudy for Iowa families
Here are a few agencies that my friends and fellow bloggers have had good things to say about:
America World Adoption
My friends: http://nicoladoption.blogspot.com/
Country my friends adopted from: Ethiopia
Other countries this agency assists adoptions with: Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Rwanda, Ukraine
My friends: http://tam4buit.blogspot.com/
Country my friends adopted from: Ethiopia
Other countries this agency assists adoptions with: Bulgaria, China, Haiti, India, Korea, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Guatemala (not accepting new applications for Guatemala right now though)
Bethany Christian Services
My friends: http://nate-natalie.blogspot.com/
Country my friends adopted from: U.S.A.
Other countries this agency assists adoptions with: Bulgaria, China, Columbia, Ethiopia, Guatemala (not accepting new applications right now), Haiti, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine
Abrazo Adoption Associates
My friends: http://thejlees.blogspot.com/
Country my friends adopted from: U.S.A. - Texas
Note: This agency is infertility only.
MLJ Adoptions, Inc.
Note: Many families from my church are currently using this agency for adoption from the Democratic Republic of Congo and have good things to say. They are all in-process.
Other countries this agency assists with: Ukraine, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Ethiopia, Russia, Taiwan, Nepal, Vietnam, Guatemala (currently closed), and Bulgaria.
Foster Care for the State of Iowa
My friends: http://tim-and-christy.blogspot.com/
The agency we used in our adoption of Justice:
About A Child
Countries: Ghana, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
I also wanted to note this awesome post on domestic adoptions that was on a blog that I follow: http://joiningthejourney.blogspot.com/2010/10/domestic-adoptionorphan-or-not.html
And on this same blog she also posted some other domestic adoption agencies a few days later:
Feel free to post more agencies in the comments section or any other tips/things to think about when considering agencies! Thanks!