Questions to ask adoption agencies
These are questions that you want to ask adoption agencies at one time, either while you are trying to narrow your choices down or when trying to decide between a few finalists.
- How long have you been in business? How many people do you have on staff in the US, and how many cases are they handling at any one time?
- How long has your agency had a program in Kazakhstan? How many adoptions have you completed and when?
- Do you have your own staff overseas or do you work with independent facilitators or a child placing agency? How long have you been working with this person(s)/agency? When will they be with me: only for official business, for shopping, etc.? Do you have an office in Kazakhstan?
- What is the time frame for adopting from Kazakhstan? Time to referral, between referral and travel, how long in Kazakhstan, how long between trips (if making two trips).
- How do you identify children available for adoption?
- Do you offer referrals or will I travel blind to meet my child?
- What kind of information will I receive with a referral? How long would I have to accept or decline a referral? What happens if I decline a referral?
- What is your refund policy? How much money you get back: if you decide you don't like the agency before or after referral, if the adoption falls through while in country, etc.
- What regions/cities do you operate in?
- Do you personally examine the orphanages that the children stay in? How do you stay informed about the quality of care?
- Has your agency ever been investigated or sanctioned by a government or legal entity?
- How much are the agency fees? How much is the total cost? When must they be paid? What is included and what is not? [See my Fees checklist for help in evaluating their response.]
- How will you help me with assembling my dossier? making travel plans? Do you offer post-adoption support?
- Would I stay in an apartment, hotel, or private home-stay?
- Do you have more than one foreign adoption program? Could I switch my application to another country if regulations change or a moratorium is declared? [If they work in multiple countries, it is a safe guard if a country closes to adoption, but this might also cause an agency to not be an "expert" in a particular country.]
- Do you provide assistance, either financial or goods, to the orphanage? How much? Is there a way for me to give back to the orphanage once I am home?
- May I have my attorney look over the contract? make changes? What provisions are made if the adoption cannot be completed? Does the contract have a gag clause?
- Will you provide references that are waiting for a referral, waiting to travel, and have recently adopted? [If you know what city you would be traveling to, make sure that these references went there are well. At least make sure that the references also adopted from Kazakhstan. You should also post to one of the e-mail groups; ask specific questions and you are more likely to get responses than if just asking "How were they?"]
- Some agencies ask parents to avoid posting on e-mail lists. If the support that the e-mail lists offer is important to you, be sure to ask the agency if they have any policies concerning internet lists.
Other things to consider:
- How quickly they respond to initial request for information and how complete the information is. Agencies get many requests for information, so don't expect an instant response, but it should be within a few days.
- How quickly they respond to questions and requests for additional information. Once you have shown an increased interest, they should get back to you more quickly.
- Amount of support provided (do you want them to compile the dossier and get it apostiled? arrange for all air travel? tell you what needs to be done so that you can do it yourself?). Some parents like lots of “hand-holding” and some want to be independent; you need an agency that will fulfill your needs for help.