Ten Tips for Choosing a Domestic Open Adoption Agency

Fact Sheets


Ten Tips for Choosing Domestic Adoption Agency


Just about all adoption agencies providing domestic infant adoption offer open adoption, but that’s where the similarities end. Attitude and commitment to open adoption differ widely between agencies. It is worth the effort to find an agency that will be there for you, your child’s birth mother and birth father, and your child for the long term. Use these tips for finding the right domestic open adoption agency for you. And please add your own tips in the comments!

  1. Look for an agency that feels more like a child welfare agency rather than an adoption agency. They should be looking for the best home for a child, rather than a child for a home. It’s a feel kind of thing that you’ll get from talking with them.
  2. Good adoption agencies go out of their way to educate adoptive parents and expectant parents on how to create a successful open adoption and on adoptive parenting in general. Most states do not have significant adoption education requirements for domestic adoptions, so adoption agencies are not required to provide or encourage education; therefore, the mark of a good agency is one that requires the education even though they don’t have too.
  3. The information adoption agencies provide to expectant parents should reflect what the adoptive parents hear. Spend some time on the adoption agency’s website section aimed at prospective birth parents.
  4. Adoption agencies should offer different forms of counseling to expectant parents. You would like to see both individual counseling and group counseling, although this is not always possible with smaller agencies. What provisions are made when the birth mother does not live nearby.
  5. Counseling should be offered to birth parents after the adoption, ideally for as long as they need or want support.
  6. Ask for references for both former adoptive parents and birth parents.
  7. Pay particular attention to how birth fathers are treated and how the agency handles unidentified birthfathers. Birth fathers should not be treated as sperm donors.
  8. Adoption agencies should have someone able to help adoptive parents and birth parents if they hit a snag in their open adoption relationship down the line.
  9. Check out the birth parent ratings of agencies at Adoption Agency Ratings. With any rating service, throw out the outliers and pay attention to the majority. Anyone can have one bad review, especially with something as emotionally charged as placing your child for adoption.
  10. Good open adoption agencies are also good financially stable agencies, so check out the Creating a Family’s Three Step Process for Choosing an Adoption Agency, List of Questions to Ask When Choosing an Adoption Agency, and Red Flags for Unethical Adoption Agencies.

You may want to listen to or download this really terrific Creating a Family show on How to Choose an Adoption Agency with Laura Christianson, author of The Adoption Decision among other books; and Elizabeth Falker, author of The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Adoption.


What have we left out? What should adoptive parents look for when choosing an open adoption agency?

19/06/2013 | by Fact Sheets | Categories: Adoption, Other Adoption Resources | 8 Comments

8 Responses to Ten Tips for Choosing a Domestic Open Adoption Agency

  1. Avatar Jay says:

    I like that you touched on the agency that should really be focusing on the children. matching a child to a good home can be tough, so having an agency that really is interested in their welfare, like you said, is so important.

  2. Avatar Maggie Allen says:

    I really like your point on making sure that the adoption agency offers counseling that is readily available, and in multiple forms. Since adoption is can be a huge transition to everyone involved, I believe that counseling is extremely important for ensuring that everything goes smoothly. Plus, I think that the readily available support shows the adoptive parents that the agency really cares about both their clients and children.

  3. Avatar TAO says:


    You touched on the financial stability which is really important – some agencies only offer a semi-open with updates etc going through the agency and no identifying info is exchanged. What happens when the agency closes? Two recent ones I know of in the last year – one agency advised their clients and helped them keep the contact – another agency just shut the doors, a smaller local agency did get the files and figure out who adopted whose child, and tried to at least continue some contact agreements which I thought was wonderful. I can see why some who agree to that form of semi-open are happy there is no exchange of info – but at what cost if the agency shuts the doors is something they need to think about.

  4. Avatar Michelle says:

    With 42% of domestic newborn adoptions being transracial, PAPs should also be looking for an agency that understands race is an issue for the adoptee, for the adoptive family, and for the birth family. The agency should not proceed with a color blind approach but a color awareness approach that benefits everyone. Thus, PAPs should get good transracial adoption education that benefits both them and their future child. Agencies should do a better job of assessing if parents are truly prepared to adopt across racial lines and which parents who are not prepared can learn the tools (because many can and some never will.) And which parents should do a same race adoption or just not qualified to adopt any kid. Has the agency ever turned down a paying family? And the birth parents should get good counseling that incorporates racial differences in America. (Socioeconomic class is another discusssion that should also be had.)

  5. Avatar St. Elsewhere says:

    You seem to have covered it well.

  6. Avatar cb says:

    Though I agree with post-adoption birthmother counselling, I sometimes wonder exactly what it involves when done by an agency.

    I just ask because this following document is part of the NCFA birthmother training scheme and seems to involve making them feel guilty about grieving rather than letting them grieve:


    If this document really does help form the basis of post-adoption counselling (and certain things in the last few paragraphs make me feel that it night), then birthmothers may be better off going to an independent counsellor.

    Btw I found the document author’s answer to “who is the openness for” rather hypocritical.

  7. Avatar Greg says:

    Thank you so much Dawn for this piece.

    I just began to vet adoption agencies a few weeks ago and found this piece to be very helpful as well as your other materials on the questions to ask adoption agencies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Content created by Creating a Family. And remember, there are no guarantees in adoption or infertility treatment. The information provided or referenced on this website should be used only as part of an overall plan to help educate you about the joys and challenges of adopting a child or dealing with infertility. Although the following seems obvious, our attorney insists that we tell you specifically that the information provided on this site may not be appropriate or applicable to you, and despite our best efforts, it may contain errors or important omissions. You should rely only upon the professionals you employ to assist you directly with your individual circumstances. CREATING A FAMILY DOES NOT WARRANT THE INFORMATION OR MATERIALS contained or referenced on this website. CREATING A FAMILY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR ERRORS or omissions in this information and materials and PROVIDES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, implied, express or statutory. IN NO EVENT WILL CREATING A FAMILY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, including without limitation direct or indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising out of or in connection with the use of the information or materials, EVEN IF CREATING A FAMILY OR ITS AGENTS ARE NEGLIGENT AND/OR ARE ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.