By Bill Betzen
It was March of 1996 that the first draft of this checklist
placed online. It has been used by thousands since then and,
with the feedback received since 1996, it has been shortened
and simplified. There are now 5 questions most easily answered
by using the yellow pages, or other agency advertisements such
as web pages, and then 11 questions that will probably require
a phone call to the agency. There is no difference if you are
placing a child you are expecting or if you are wanting to
adopt a child into your family. Either way you must select the
agency very carefully for the sake of your child.
You must also be concerned as to how the adopting parents of
your child, or the birthmother of your child, will be treated
by the agency you select. It is a VERY important decision.
As you are calling agencies and asking questions about the
issues from this checklist, it is very possible that the staff
will recognize that you are using this checklist. Do not let
that distract you from the critical issues addressed in the
checklist. Just acknowledge that you are using the
"openadoption.org checklist" and that you want to go over the
issues one by one. The issues are infinitely more important
than the source of the checklist you are using. The way agency
staff treat you, and your concerns, will tell you as much
an agency as the written agency policies.
A PDF copy of the Adoption Agency Selection Checklist for
printing can be found at www.openadoption.org/checklst.htm It
will print out to one page and have 4 columns to compare
multiple agencies. You may then take notes on the printed copy
as you study agency advertisements and call agencies.
Adoption Agency Selection Checklist
After studying the www.openadoption.org web pages to
the issues involved, this form can be used to compare four
agencies. The more “Yes” answers to the questions that follow
the better an agency is. Few agencies will get “Yes” answers
all 16 questions, and some questions are more important.
1. Do the agency web site & advertisements make it clear that
the agency only does fully open, fully identified adoptions?
2. Is this agency easy to drive to from your home?
3. Do you have a friend who knows or has used this agency and
gives it a very high recommendation?
4. Are there other agencies in your local yellow pages who
much larger yellow page ads under the adoption heading?
5. Is the agency a church affiliated agency or is it over 30
Most of the above questions can be answered from agency web
sites, yellow pages, and other advertisements without calling
the agency. The questions below will probably require a call
the agency, but count it as extra good if positive answers can
be found in agency advertisements. Count it as negative if
there is any hesitation by agency staff on the phone in
answering these questions.
6. Does the agency encourage maternity client parenting and
offer free support and guidance in parenting?
7. Did agency staff accurately define open adoption as
involving no secrets between birth and adopting families, and
ongoing, direct, in person contact between them?
8. Did agency staff make it clear that they prefer to do fully
open adoptions and rarely, if at all, will they serve an
adopting family wanting less than a fully open adoption?
9. Does the agency strongly recommend, or even require,
counseling sessions by their staff before a maternity client
starts considering the selection of a family for their child?
10. Does the agency always allow maternity clients selecting a
family for their child to be able study every waiting family
available through the agency for their child, and almost never
limits maternity clients to selecting from a few waiting
families chosen by agency staff?
11. Does the agency encourage matching between birth and
adopting families who live close enough to each other for easy
12. Does the agency have resumes by families adopting that are
fully identified, with full names and addresses as well as
local phone numbers on them, freely available for the
13. Does the agency provide a copy of their adopting parent
agreement with clearly stated policies both about refunds and
that donations cannot be accepted during the adoption process?
14. Does the original fee amount also cover all birthmother
expenses anticipated with the agency paying any extra
15. Is agency a member of the Child Welfare League of America?
16. Is the race of the child expected one of the last
Total the Number of "Yes" answers and compair.
About The Author: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any
questions or comments. - Bill Betzen LMSW(Emeritus), Child
placement social worker for 28 years with ten years spent
expanding infant adoption services through open adoption.
Active in supporting adoptee rights legislation at both the
national and state levels. Adoption