How to Check Out an Online Adoption Professional

African American couple researching for online adoption on their laptop in a kitchen
by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P
Founder of Lifetime Adoption

Here are 9 tips that you can follow to check out the reputation of an online adoption professional:
  1. Get to know the adoption sites on the Net. Before working with anyone in cyberspace, verify their existence in a “brick and mortar” building.
  2. On visiting the website of a professional, see if they display memberships in organizations like the Better Business Bureau and local Chamber of Commerce. That’s a good sign.
  3. They should list a phone number and a real address, not just a post office box. If they don’t, move on.
  4. Call! Ask questions. On any inkling of doubt, move on.
  5. If you sense they’re trustworthy, ask for five references of clients who have adopted successfully through them. If they won’t give this to you, look elsewhere.
  6. Call the references. Ask questions. If you always get an answering machine and few timely returned calls, question this reference.
  7. Go online. Enter the precise firm name in a general search engine and check the adoption websites to see if any bad reports come up.
  8. Visit several adoption forums and post messages asking if anyone has worked with the firm and to relate their experiences.
  9. Do the e-mail test: dispatch a simple question of substance and see if they respond in a timely, professional way. Look to see if their e-mail signature is consistent. If it all checks out, keep them on your list of candidates. Call the organization again. Ask them to send their contract by mail. If they won’t, drop them. If they do, review it: Their contract should be extensive but clear and glowing with professionalism. In our center we don’t send out a contract until the applying family has been approved for our program. Be cautious of any organization that takes just anyone.


Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally recognized authority on adoption. A Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, LLC., established in 1986. Caldwell has assisted in over 1,800 successful adoptions. She was one of the first adoption professionals on the Internet.Caldwell’s life work has been dedicated to educating and helping birth parents and adoptive parents through teaching, speaking, and resources and as a radio talk show host.

Author of a number of award-winning books, Caldwell has more than 225 media credits to her name, including: Larry King Live, ABC News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN Headline News, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, CBS News, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, Dr. Laura, and is widely sought for print articles and speaking engagements.