Open Adoption

Adoption in the Best Interest of the Child

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Adoption Agency Selection Checklist
If Considering Placement

By Bill Betzen - - 3/19/96 draft ARCHIVED COPY
Go to to see the reformatted 2005 checklist.

Print out one copy of this form for each agency you want to consider. It is written with the placement of an infant in mind, but the same issues apply to the placement of any child. These issues are drawn from a document called Recommendations for Parents Considering Placement of a Child. That document will help you better understand the issues in the 24 items on this checklist. Score each of the following 24 items in the left margin with a number from -10 to +10, with +10 being the most positive. All "no" answers receive 0 points unless otherwise noted.

Name of the agency: _____________________________________________________

Before you call the agency answer the following:

  1. Is the agency within 50 miles, or one of the five agencies closest to your home? (Yes = +5)
  2. Are there other good agencies closer? (Subtract 2 from 10 for each good agency that is closer.)
  3. Do you have a friend who knows this agency is a good open adoption agency? (Yes = +10)
  4. Is the agency church affiliated, a United Way agency, or an agency with over a 30 year history in your area? (Yes = +5) [Beware as some of these agencies are still not open adoption agencies.]
  5. Do they have the largest Yellow Page ad in the book? (Yes = -10, No = +3)
  6. Does that ad make it clear that they are a fully open adoption agency? (Yes = +5)
If the average of the above six scores is +2 or higher, then call the agency. Tell them you are considering placement of an infant and want to know the types of services they offer. If they freely share the following information, without your having to ask about it over the phone, then double their points on any score that is positive:
  1. Do they offer guidance in parenting? (Yes = +5)
  2. Do they offer encouragement and support for parenting? (Yes = +10)
  3. Before they will tell you of the adoption services they will offer do they first ask the race of the child you are expecting? (Yes = -10, No = +5) [To ask if the child is American Indian is a valid question. If he/she is eligible for membership in a recognized tribe, that affects the legal process and may prohibit a relinquishment through an agency. However, a good agency will still serve you and will not ignore the Indian Child Welfare Act in the U.S., and similar laws in Canada.]
  4. Do they volunteer that they only do fully open adoption and that all their families expect such fully open, ongoing relationship, adoptions? (Yes = +10)
  5. Do they accurately define open adoption as fully identified (full names, addresses, and phone numbers shared) and having a commitment for ongoing contact over the years? (Yes = +10)
  6. Do they say they have families waiting for a closed adoption? (Yes = -10)
  7. Do they have families waiting for semi-open adoptions? (Yes = -5)
  8. Do they strongly recommend/require counseling before you begin looking at families? (Yes = +5)
  9. Do they recommend that the families you consider live near enough for a comfortable visit?
    (No = -5, No recommendation = 0, Yes = +10)
  10. Are most of the families they would have for you over 300 miles away? (Yes = -10)
  11. Do they freely offer to cover your living expenses without requiring that you remain active in the counseling process? (Yes = -10) [Such offers may even be illegal in your area. If they still offer to cover those expenses, report them to authorities.]
  12. Ask them if they would have families for you to consider if you were expecting an African American child. Do they say they either have families or that they will find families?
    (Yes = +10, No = -10)
  13. Before the matching process begins is there a warning that the formation of a friendship with a family you select will make it much harder for you to parent after giving birth? (Yes = +10)
  14. Before birth it is very good to practice with the selected family what you and they will do should you decide to parent. Requiring such discussion is a sign of a good, honest agency. Does the agency called require such practice and discussion before a child is born? (Yes = +10, No = -10)
  15. Ask them if they have resumes for families currently awaiting adoption. Do these resumes all have full name, address, and local phone number (i.e., not 800#) for the family? (Yes = +10)
  16. In the matching process will the agency give you a selection of family resumes (maybe 5) they have chosen for you to consider, or do you get to look at every family they have who would be available for your child? (They select group of families = 0. You can see every available family = +10)
  17. Once you are with the agency, does your counselor constantly want to go over the parenting alternative again to the point you are tired of hearing about it? (Yes = +10)
  18. Once you decide for adoption does the counselor NEVER mention parenting again?
    (Yes = -10)
Please remember to double the positive scores for each item above that they answered in the positive over the phone without your needing to ask about it.

The total of all the 24 scores above (remember to subtract any negatives) is _____________.

The higher this total score is above 100 the better! The highest possible score is 248. I doubt that many agencies will score above 200. Most agencies are still not fully open and are not spending this amount of time volunteering information over the phone without your asking the specific questions relating to these issues. Please let me know if you find an agency with a 200+ score. They need to be known!

This checklist is based on my personal opinions gained from 23 years of child placement experience and the input of many respected friends. Comments from people who have been reading this page on the Internet have also helped mold this checklist. The important thing is that you form your own opinion on these issues and select an agency accordingly. Doing this checklist takes time and effort. You will never regret having made such an investment with your time. You and your child will benefit most from that investment.

If you have comments or suggestions, or if anything is unclear, I welcome hearing from you. You may e-mail me at Such comments have already helped improve this checklist. Thank you for visiting. .

May God bless your parenting/adoption decision making process. I hope this checklist will be part of that blessing.

Bill Betzen

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Main Page Domestic Adoption Adoptee Information Planning to Place Planning to Adopt Adoption Reform
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