When seeking to adopt using an adoption agency, it's adviseable to use a reputable agency with experience in the type of adoption you are pursuing. Agencies are regulated by state governments but services and fees can vary widely.
Ask for referrals from friends, adoptive parent groups, clergy, doctors and adoption attorneys.
Compile a list of the agencies that appear to meet your basic requirements (type of adoption, domestic, international).
Verify the license. Call your state adoption agency licensing specialist to make sure the license is current and no complaints have been filed.
Do a background check. To check for complaints and lawsuits, ask the licensing specialist (above), the Better Business Bureau and/or your state Attorney General's office.
Ask the agency about adoptive parent requirements concerning marital status, age, income, health, etc.
Ask about pre-adoption and post-adoption services, and services provided to birth parents.
Ask about up-front fees. Large amounts of money required before any services are provided should set off alarms and should be thoroughly investigated and compared with other agency fees.
Request written materials and references from client families. Remember, an agency is not likely to refer you to someone who had a bad experience.
Ask if the agency offers a free orientation.
Ask how long the agency has been in business and how many adoptions they have completed. Don't forget to ask about the percentage of adoptions that have failed.
Ask the length of the average wait.
Ask for an itemized list of costs and fees, including expenses for the placing parents, and understand clearly what is included and what is not.
Ask for the agency's professional affiliations and standards of practice.
Trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Don't work with an agency you haven't personally investigated.
Stay positive. The road to adoption may be delayed slightly by your attention to detail, but you owe it to your future family to take every reasonable precaution.