How to Pick an Adoption AgencyPick an agency that is Hague accredited.
This credential means that you are working with an agency that has been inspected, reviewed, approved and is monitored by agencies and groups that require legitimacy and ethical procedures.
Pick an agency that does not have open or unaddressed complaints with the Better Business Bureau or State licensure.
You should call both entities and make sure the agency you choose to work with has an unblemished/clear record. If you are going to work with a Hague agency you should also check with the COA (Council for Accreditation) to make sure no complaints have been filed/sustained against the agency.
Pick an agency that has a successful track record of completing adoptions.
Perspective adoptive parents should select an agency with seasoned international adoption experience. The international adoption process is extrememly complex and you do not want to be an agency's "guinea pig". If an agency does not have a long, successful history of completing adoptions, and if they can not offer you recent families for recommendation, consider crossing them off your list.
Pick an agency that has personally traveled to the country you are adopting from.
You want an agency that has personally met with the lawyer, facilitator, Central Authority for Adoption, the US Embassy, etc. The agency has verified and personally visted the orphanages and the orphaned children ( the agency knows the children comply with USCIS "orphan" status immigration requirements - section 204.3). If an agency has not traveled to the country you are adopting from you should strongly consider crossing them off your list.
Pick an agency that has signed contractual agreements with their facilitators/lawyers.
You should ask how the relationships with the facilitator/lawyer were extablished? Has the agency personally met the facilitator/lawyer? What is the background/experience of the facilitator/lawyer? Has any background checks/verifications been done on the facilitator/lawyer? What opinion/knowledge does the US Embassy have of the facilitator/lawyer? Has the US agency confirmed through the US Embassy how many immigrant visas the facilitator/lawyer has processed, how many were denied & why? If an agency is using a facilitator/lawyer without known experience/success and a good reputation I would consider crossing them off your list.
Pick an agency that has successfully had all their perspective adoptive parents travel, go through court & granted an adoption decree.
Ask the agency if any of their perspective adoptive parents (for the country you are interested in) have ever been denied an adoption visa (IR3) or permanent gaurdianship (IR4)? If the agency is not willing to provide this information to you in writing, cross them off your list.
Pick an aagency that offers 24/7 support while you are in country.
What is the agency's contingency plan for perspective adoptive parent support if a "worst case scenario" happens? By support we are talking about... emmotional, medical, mediation with the US Embassy, DOS, etc. If an agency cannot be reached 24/7 when there is a perspective adoptive family in crisis (meaning they are in-country or have just returned from country in a "worst case scenario")... cross them off your list. If an agency does not have a contingency plan or they say they don't need one of there is not such a plan in writing, and/or it has never been thought about... run! Cross them off your list.
Pick an agency that clearly understands the ramifications of section 204.3 of the immigration requirements.
Your agency should know what legally defines an "orphan", how to file a petition for an orphan, and how perspective adoptive parent's status is evaluated. If the agency cannot do this then you should seriously consider crossing them off your list!
Pick an agency that lists all known fees and cost (not just the agency fees).
Does the agency know the average cost of adoption within the specific country you are pursuing? What are the court costs, facilitation cost, documentation costs, translation costs, etc.? Are the fees for USCIS, etc. included? Are the specific fees charged by the agency reasonable in regards to the specific country's avergae? If not, consider crossing them off your list. NOTE: Is the agency charging you an "inter-country court fee" that matches the actual court cost? If the agency does not post all their fees in writing, cross them off your list.
Pick an agency that has an inter-country adoption attorney on staff/retained for issues relating to their adoption services.
If the agency does not have a reputable inter-country adoption attorney with specific inter-country adoption experience at their fingertips (to help establish the programs so they are legit, ethical & successful, and also for when the process hits a serious snag!) I would highly suggest you cross them off your list!
Pick an agency that has a clearly written reimbursement policy.
If the agency's reimbursement policy is not detailed and specifically defined, in a reimbursement plan (where critical points in the process are specifically defined for amounts or % of reimbursement)... cross them off your list. NOTE: Does the agency have a plan in place if the prospective mom becomes pregnant or the family decides to put their process on hold? Does the agency have a plan in place if the country you have selected closes or is delayed at some point in the process? If an agency foes not have a specific, well defined plan to protect their families in these scenerios... stronly consider crossing them off your list.
Pick an agency that discusses (in writing) all risks and what party is responsible if the process is denied, delayed, or placed on hold.
If you read in the agency's adoption contract "Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) assume(s) all risk" be very concerned! Does the contract state or imply "reasonable" risk such as the country's government changing laws (things that are out of the control of the agency?). A perspective adoptive should NOT be responsible for the illegal/criminal activity of the agency or partners there-of (inter-country facilitators/lawyers). This is not "reasonable" risk. If the agency is not willing to be specific in defining "risk", cross them off your list.
Pick an agency that understands the requirements of the US Embassy in a particular country.
Obtaining a inter-country adoption decree (IR3) or permanent gaurdianship order (IR4) does not mean you are through the process! An immigrant visa MUST be issued for you to leave the country with your child and return to your home country. If your agency is not well versed in what documents are needed and how they can be verified in advance... consider crossing them off your list.