Interviewing Adoption Professionals

Woman reading Mardie Caldwell's book, Adoption, Your Step by Step Guide

Advice from Mardie Caldwell, Certified Open Adoption Practitioner

Regardless of the type of adoption professionals you are hiring, there are some essential questions to ask before committing to anyone. Most of these questions apply to both the hiring of adoption attorneys, social workers and qualified private adoption agencies.

The book Adoption, Your Step by Step Guide provides a lot of information for families beginning their adoption journey. Thousands of families have used the techniques this book to adopt the baby of their dreams.

Getting Started with the Right Questions

Here are a list of questions from the book that you need to ask an adoption professional as you start your search for a professional who will become your partner in building your family through adoption:

  • How did you first become involved with adoption?
  • How long have you been in the adoption profession?
  • What services do you provide, both for adoptive parents and for birth parents?
  • What services don’t you provide?
  • What are your fees?
  • Do you have a formal contract?
  • Depending on the type of service that is offered, are you licensed, bonded, or certified?
  • What is your success rate and in what time frame can the average family expect to wait to adopt?

Analyze the Answers from the Adoption Professionals You’ve Interviewed

The best tools you will use while conducting your adoption research are the notes and files you will keep during your search. Keep hard copies or electronic files. Your files should include all the information, literature and notes you have obtained on the professional you are considering. Keep a list of dates and the people you speak to.

I recommend you also write down how the phone conversation went, did they answer the phone with a live person or did you have to leave a message during regular hours? Was their website informative and helpful? What type of track record do they have in international adoption, domestic adoption or in foster adoption success?

Working with adoption professionals in another state is very common. Don’t feel rushed and be sure to do your homework. With planning, patience and the determination to follow through on your information, you should feel confident in the adoption professionals you finally decide on. You will save time, money and frustration when you plan and use the questions above. Print this page out and keep it with you while speaking to anyone you are considering using. It will become invaluable to you and your success.

How to Determine the Reputation of an Adoption Professional Online

Here are 10 tips that you can follow to check out the reputation of an online adoption professional:

  1. Get to know each adoption professional by visiting their website first. But before hiring anyone, 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 their 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 go to their voicemail and few return calls timely, question these references.
  7. Google the precise firm name and check to see if any bad reports or reviews come up.
  8. Visit several adoption groups or 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.
  10. Call the organization again. Ask them to send their contract. If they do, review it: Their contract should be extensive but clear and glowing with professionalism. At our adoption agency, 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.

Be wise, take notes and ask questions. You too can adopt successfully!
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.

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“Hi Ms. Taoka, Thank you for reaching out! Our early research into domestic infant adoption led us to the podcast “Infant Adoption Guide” hosted by Tim Elder. Tim Elder and his wife used Lifetime Adoptions three times to grow their family and he did not have anything but good things to say about your program. He also interviewed Libby Denniston from Lifetime on his podcast and her passion and heart for all sides of adoption drew us to learn more about what Lifetime was about. Please reach out if you have any more questions!”
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