American Association of
Open Adoption Agencies
The purpose of these AAOAA pages is to give you the best
information possible about adoption. Such information will help you find
the agency providing the highest quality of infant and older child adoption
services. The best agencies are ones whose practices show they listen most closely
to adult adoptees
answering the question:
"What do you wish your adoptive
parents had known?".
These web pages are here as a public service. They were
originally placed online in February of 1996 and have changed little. The truths of adoption
remain constant. The business of
adoption is constantly changing. These pages are now, the summer of 2005, being updated
to reflect some of the changes. As the attached pages are updated the
original pages written 10 years ago will be archived and remain available to the
public. I have been fortunate to receive messages from hundreds of people over
the past 10 years thanking me for the information on these pages. Sadly,
many regret that they did not know this information sooner as they had already
made mistakes warned against in these pages. Others are thankful to have gotten
this information in time to
help guide them to make positive decisions. All have been thankful the
information is available.
One change is that now revenue from Google and other advertisers
will help these pages remain online and free. Please be warned that there is no necessary connection between the
services that may be so advertised and the
recommendations on these pages. The agencies advertised may be excellent
agencies, or they may be very dangerous. Be careful. Understand well what is written on
the www.openadoption.org pages
before you select an agency. Adoption is one of most delicate and crucial
processes in life. It can involve either the expanding of your family for a new member
or the selection of such a family for your child. Please make your decisions
Bill Betzen LMSW (Emeritus)
July 22, 2005
AAOAA Statement of Purpose:
We are committed to providing and encouraging the provision of adoption services of the highest
quality. We approach the issue of quality in adoption from three basic directions:
- Open Adoption is the healthiest form of adoption. We define open adoption as a form of
adoption in which the birth family and the adopted child enjoy an ongoing, in-person relationship.
- Adoption happens best within a progressive, non-profit agency setting. Featuring
accountability, community ownership, a leveling of socioeconomic issues, and a systems
perspective that seeks to balance the interests of all parties involved, agencies offer the most
promising foundation for quality services.
- Ethical standards are of utmost importance. Given the extraordinary vulnerability of all the
participants in adoption, it is crucial that services are provided according to the highest standards.
We are keenly conscious that, for all its potential, there are painful dimensions to adoption. We
recognize the importance of family preservation and view open adoption as an extension of that
thrust. The essence of open adoption is respect and candor.
A more detailed expression of the guiding beliefs for AAOAA is found in "A Statement of Beliefs" compiled by Jim Gritter and presented at
the Fifth National Conference on Open Adoption, May 3-5 1995, Traverse City, Michigan.
The experience of traid members has led to these adoption beliefs. The first addition to our
AAOAA Library is the keynote address given by Rev. Tom Brosnan, an adoptee, at the 1996
National Maternity and Adoption Conference for Catholic Charities USA. It was given in April,
1996 in San Antonio, Texas. It is about the experience of adoption. The talk received an
extended ovation and was the center of discussion at the conference. The title of the talk was
Finding Agencies meeting AAOAA standards:
The AAOAA has not yet evolved beyond the ideals supported in the bi-annual
conferences in Traverse City Michigan by Jim Gritter and Catholic Human Services
of Traverse City. (These conferences are in the spring of every odd
The documents linked in these web pages are given as guidance
for families involved in the adoption process. These pages are for
families planning adoption who want their children to have the healthiest
adoption process possible. There is also information provided for people now
living adoption who may be searching, or who may be interested in helping change
adoption laws so as to reflect what has been learned through human experience
and research over the past 30 years.
In February of 2000 the Child Welfare League of America (http://www.cwla.org)
led the way with a powerful update of their nationally recognized CWLA
Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services. These stardards (summarized
here on the CWLA web pages) are closer
to meeting the AAOAA standards than ever before. It is strongly
recommended that these new CWLA standards be studied and followed by all child
placement agencies. Since the CWLA with 1000 member agencies is the largest
national affiliation of child placement agencies in the world, the standards of
the AAOAA have also taken a wonderful step forward.
Special Notice: A very basic adoption question
in 1998 by hundreds of adoptees on the Adoptee Internet Mailing List pages. Here
is an archive of the answers to the question,
"What do you wish your adoptive
parents had known?".
Every person planning the adoption of a
child should read these answers very carefully. Then hopefully the child they adopt
will not have the same concerns. In spite of these questions having been
gathered on a public bulletin board, there is a
remarkable consistency to the answers adoptees give on this question.
Personal note by Bill Betzen:
While there is no formal AAOAA approval for the recommendations given in the Domestic Infant Adoption web pages I
have created, it is hoped that the recommendations therein are in keeping with the spirit of
AAOAA. Following are links to the information on those web pages: (If you find
many topics of interest below it is recommended you go directly to the Domestic Infant Adoption home page. Working
from that page will speed the loading and reading of the sections you are
The page called "Recommendations for Anyone
Considering Placement of a Child", while it was written for parents considering
placement of a child, is strongly recommended for any parent considering the adoption of a child
into their home as well. These issues affect everyone involved in adoption. This is one document
and includes the following sections:
When is the term
"Birth Parent" used?
What "Birth Parent Right"
is never talked about by Adoption Agencies on
What an Open
Adoption Should Be:
What Open Adoption is
The Reasons You Want Only
a Fully Open Adoption
The Support for Open
Adoption Found In Current Research
Why Work With an
What is the Main Mission
of the Agency, Finding Babies or Finding
How to Search for a
Good Open Adoption Agency?
This section includes one separate document which is a checklist you may print out.
It reflects the recommendations given in these pages. It is a guide for both
those planning to place a child and those wanting to adopt a
child to help them in the process of selecting an
The pages called "Recommendations for Adopting
Parents" include the following topics:
The Adoption of a "healthy
anglo infant" within a year?
Why the statement that
there are forty families waiting for every infant is wrong.
The Adopting Parent Outreach
Program - An article
A Statement of
Beliefs - A formula for adoption quality - Jim Gritter
Infant Adoption Costs and
Related Issues - An article
Adoption and the
Again, if you find many topics of interest above, the loading and reading of the sections you are
interested in will go faster if you go directly to the
Domestic Infant Adoption web pages.