Thursday, June 5, 2008
Red Letters Campaign: Adoption Agencies
Bethany inspired me, so I'm answering this question: What advice would you give someone choosing an agency? What questions would you advise they ask? What resources or organizations would you suggest they reference?
My experience is different than a lot of people's adoption stories because when we chose an agency, we already had a birth mother. We needed a Kentucky agency to complete our home study and the paperwork for the final adoption and we needed an Indiana agency to work with the birth mother. So, I did some online research and talked to people who had used Kentucky agencies. Because of their fair costs and testimonials from other people, I chose Adoption Assistance, which is based in Danville, Ky., but has social workers throughout the state. I knew this was a good choice when I faxed them on initial information after talking to someone from the office on the phone and I had an e-mail from them within hours. I appreciated the prompt response, and that's how it was the whole process.
Next I hired an attorney in Indiana, because that's where the bulk of the paperwork for the interstate adoption would be completed. I found, again online, a law firm that two brothers started solely to do adoption-related work. I called some others I found, but this definitely proved to be the best choice. They worked withAdoptions of Indiana, so a social worker there helped us on that end.
All of this to say, ask as many questions as you can think of and don't think you're asking too many. You're hiring these people for a service that is going to change your life. Be cautious, obviously this is an emotional and financial commitment, but also trust people's ability to help you.
The only thing I would have done differently was gotten a clearer outline of when and how we'd pay the associated fees. I was a little caught off guard with the attorney fees, mostly the timing of some of them, but in the end everything ended up working out like we expected, financially speaking. Having an attorney who knew the interstate adoption laws and actually helped write Indiana's adoption laws was valuable. He came to the hospital when Cate was born and helped the birth mother fill out all the paper work and then had a conference call with the judge and other parties on the way from the hospital to Bloomington to his office in Indianapolis so we could get the court order granting us guardianship to leave the hospital with our daughter.
I'm talking about attorneys a lot, but for us that was the key. In Indiana, the adoption agency just assisted the attorney and also offered the birth mother some counseling. Indiana is an adoption-friendly state, so the process was rather smooth there. In Kentucky, we were glad to have Julie from Adoption Assistance in the loop because Frankfort got a little confused when it came to signing off on our initial stack of paper work, meaning we were staying in a hotel just across the river in Indiana, waiting for Kentucky people to do their job. Having an advocate like Adoption Assistance was also much appreciated.