How to choose an adoption agency

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Adoption agency. A number of people meeting around a table with one woman pointing to notes on a board at the front of the room.
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Once you feel that you’re ready to move on to adoption, one of the first steps is to find an adoption agency that suits you. Finding an agency that’s the right fit might take time. They all have slightly different criteria so it’s worth speaking to a few before you make a final decision.

This post looks at the difference between a voluntary and local authority agencies and how to decide which one to go with.

What is an adoption agency?

Adoption agencies have a range of different roles which will vary depending on the type of agency. These roles include:

  • recruiting, assessing, preparing, and approving adopters
  • match children with adopters once a placement order has been granted
  • supporting children in adoptive placements
  • providing help and support to adopters throughout their child’s childhood and beyond
  • providing support to birth families

Prospective adopters need to choose an agency to assess them and take them through the approval process. Then, depending on the type of agency, the matching process starts by looking at children within their agency, or with local authorities.

What are the different types of adoption agencies?

There are two types of adoption agencies:

  • local authority (LA) agency either on their own or part of a regional adoption agency (RAA)
  • voluntary agency (VA)

Local authorities assess adopters and take them through to approval Panel. They then look to match their adopters with children who are waiting for adoption within their area.

Voluntary agencies assess and approve adopters, but they don’t have children in their care. That means the matching process for their adopters is slightly different as the children aren’t within the agency.

VAs tend to place children who have been waiting for a while or are more difficult to be matched, perhaps due to their level needs.

Local authorities and RAA will try and place their children with their approved adopters so if you decide to go with a VA, the matching process is likely to take longer. In addition, a local authority has to pay a VA if a child is matched with one of their adopters (to cover the costs of the assessment, no profit is involved). Therefore there is a monetary consideration when matching with adopters approved through a VA.

Adoption agency. Group of children holding a brightly coloured parachute on a field
Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

Finding adoption agencies

First4Adoption are the best place to start when it comes to looking for agencies in your area. You type in your postcode and it wil bring up all of the ones close to you. Some people prefer to use an agency who are further away, particularly if they live in a small area, and you can find ones further afield too using the same tool.

How to choose your agency

There isn’t a one-size fits all formula when it comes to choosing an agency. Some people speak to a number of agencies before making their decision. Others go with the first one they talk to.

I think the most important things to look for is the feeling you get when you speak to someone at the agency initially, and things like post-adoption support and the ages and types of children they currently have waiting. If you are looking to adopt one child, it’s pointless choosing an agency who only have sibling groups waiting to be placed.

We went with the first agency we spoke to which was the local authority where we lived, because it felt right straight away. I made the initial phone call and the lady I spoke to made me feel at ease straight away. We had a home visit and again, the two social workers who came out were lovely. They answered all our questions, made us feel at ease and excited about the process.

We had our only appointment at the fertility clinic in the September and I made the inital call to the agency in the November. A lot of agencies would have told us to go away and come back after six months from the date of our appointment. But when I explained that, for us, the appointment was the end rather than the beginning of exploring treatment, they were happy to proceed.

Speak to more than one agency

That’s why it’s worth speaking to several agencies if there is something some may not be happy with, such as health issues, debt, and fertility.

Debt is another thing that different agencies look at differently. Some won’t accept people who have any debt other than their mortgage. Others will. We had a mortgage, car finance and a loan which were all up-to-date and manageable.

The reality in this day and age is that most people have some debt, particularly if they’ve undergone fertility treatment. The key is that it is manageable and doesn’t put your home at risk.

You can contact as many agencies as you want to before making a final decision. Once you’ve found the one you want to proceed with, you can start the assessment process.

Adoption agency. Two pairs of feet stood in front of the words "Passion led us here."
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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