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  Adoption Agency Selection Checklist

It was March of 1996 that the first draft of this checklist was placed online. It has been used by thousands since then and, with the feedback received since 1996, it has been shortened and simplified with more critical areas included. There are now 5 questions most easily answered by using the yellow pages, or other agency advertisements such as web pages, and then 12 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. The qualities involved in a good agency are the same. You must carefully select that agency for the sake of your child.

You must also be concerned as to how the adopting parents of your child, or the birth family of your child, are 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 " 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 treats you and your concerns will tell you as much about an agency as the written agency policy.  It will tell you more than the public image the agency attempts to advertise.

Linked here is a PDF copy of the Adoption Agency Selection Checklist for printing. It will print out to one page.  You may then take notes on the printed copy as you study agency advertisements and call agencies. This is the wording to the check list:

Adoption Agency Selection Checklist (2006)

After studying the web pages to understand the issues involved, this page can be used to compare up to four agencies. Copies can be printed from The more “Yes” answers to the questions that follow the better an agency is. (Use the term attorney or adoption intermediary, interchangeably with agency if such adoption practitioners can still legally function similar to agencies in your area.) Few agencies will get “Yes” answers to all 17 questions, and some questions are more important. Most of the first 5 questions can be answered from agency web sites, yellow pages, and other advertisements without calling the agency. The other questions will probably require a call to the agency, but count it as extra good if positive answers can be found in agency advertisements alone. Count it as negative if there is hesitation by agency staff to answer questions on the phone.

Date: _____________ Page ___ of ___ pages

Agency 1 Agency 2 Agency 3 Agency 4
  1. Do the agency web site & advertisements make it clear that the agency only does fully open, fully identified adoptions?





  1. Is this agency easy to drive to from your home?





  1. Do you have a friend who knows or has used this agency and gives it a very high recommendation?





  1. Are there other agencies in your local yellow pages who have much larger yellow page ads under the adoption heading?





  1. Is the agency a church affiliated agency or is it over 30 years old?





  1. Does the agency encourage maternity clients to parent and also offer free support and guidance in how to parent a child?





  1. 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?





  1. Did agency staff accurately define open adoption as involving no secrets between birth and adopting families and ongoing, direct, in person contact between them?





  1. Does the agency strongly recommend, or even require, several counseling sessions by their staff before a maternity client starts considering the selection of a family for their child?





  1. Does agency require a minimum of 10 hours of training & counseling for all adopting parents before they are approved for placement?





  1. Does the agency encourage matching between birth and adopting families who live close enough to each other for easy visits?





  1. Does the agency have fully identified resumes by families adopting, with full names and addresses as well as local phone numbers on them, freely available for the selection process?





  1. Does the agency always allow maternity clients selecting a family for their child to be able to study every waiting family available in the agency for their child and almost never limit maternity clients to selecting from a few waiting families chosen by agency staff?





  1. Does the agency provide a copy of their fee agreement for adopting parents with a clearly stated refund policy along with a clarification that donations cannot be accepted during the adoption process?





  1. Does the original adopting parent fee include money for all maternity client expenses anticipated with only the agency paying all such expenses, even if they go above that set amount?





  1. Is agency a member of the Child Welfare League of America?





  1. Is the race of the child expected one of the last questions asked?





    Total Number of "Yes" answers, summary:

    Email with any questions or comments.





Remember to use the PDF copy of the Adoption Agency Selection Checklist linked here for printing a copy of the above form limited to one page in length.

The above list deals with agency selection (as well as adoption attorney or adoption intermediary where they are still allowed to function similar to agencies.)

Below are two related online lists that deal with the adoption decision itself and are highly recommended for everyone to study in the adoption process:

  1. On the Concerned United Birth Parents web site at you will find the excellent document written by Heather Lowe; "What you should KNOW if you're considering adoption for your baby", a CUB booklet in .pdf form (362Kb). 

  2. The other list is also by a respected triad member, Sharon Kaplan Roszia, who is also an open adoption pioneer and professional. Her list is called "Birthparent Check List: Questions to Consider Prior to Making an Adoption Plan."  It is online at

Anyone considering adoption should study these documents before doing anything. Adopting parents who understand these issues the birth parents of their child will face are urgently needed. All parents considering the placement of their child need to understand each of the issues these documents address before they finalize any adoption plan.

A child whose parents take the time necessary to study these documents, and select the best agency, and/or adopting family, will be the real winner!

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Bill Betzen, LMSW (Emeritus)

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Tapestry Books: Your complete source for adoption related books since 1990.
Main Page Domestic Adoption Adoptee Information Planning to Place Planning to Adopt Adoption Reform
Bill Betzen, LMSW (Emeritus), Webauthor
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