How to Begin to Research a Private Adoption

Contrary to rumors and myths about adoption, there are many children available for adoption both domestically and internationally. You must learn how you can locate an adoption source that is right for you, and you must find professionals that you are comfortable working with. One professional or agency might be right for one family, but not for another. And remember, you must sift through the information everyone gives you to make an educated choice for yourself. Here are some steps to take:

  1. Learn about the different options available: you can do an international agency adoption, a domestic private adoption with an attorney, or a domestic agency adoption.
  2. Begin education yourself through reading adoption books, talking to people that have adopted, and writing for information from agencies and professionals involved in the adoption process.
  3. Join an adoption support group.
  4. Talk with family and friends about adoption, and explore your feelings about adoption.
  5. Decide on your choice of the age, sex, and health of the child you want to adopt. In your quest, do not decide to accept an adoption situation that you are not completely comfortable with.
  6. Always remember that you are paying for adoption services. Do not be intimidated by professionals or agencies–they will not refuse to work with you or “be angry” with you if you ask questions, want to know how your adoption is progressing, or refuse to accept a certain option for adopting
  7. Tell friends and family that you are interested in adopting. They can help you network to locate a child available for adoption.
  8. Do not proceed with your adoption until you have done your research and evaluated it. Many people spend money on application fees, procedural forms, and home studies before making a decision on what option is right for them. Then they end up having to do things over, thus increasing their adoption costs.


  1. What types of children do you place?
  2. Are there any restrictions or rules about who can adopt through the agency, country, etc.?
  3. How many placements have you made in the past year?
  4. How long after beginning the process can I expect to adopt my child?
  5. What will the total cost of the adoption be, and what do the various fees cover?
  6. How many years of experience in adoption do you have?
  7. What are the names and phone numbers of adoptive parents who have worked with the agency or individual?
  8. If you hire an independent social worker to do you home study, ask if they are a Certified Social Worker, licensed by New York State (many people claim to be social workers who are not). Interstate adoptions and most agencies require that a home study be done by a CSW. You do not want to have to pay another fee to have a home study re-done by a CSW.
  9. When you hire an attorney, hire one with adoption experience, rather than the attorney who did your house closing. You need to have an attorney who is familiar with the adoption process and will help you iron out glitches, not complicate them with their inexperience with adoption.

Source: Susan Sauer, CSW, Originally published in PASG (Private Adoption Support Group) Newsletter, November 2001. Reprinted with permission of the author.

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