Around the time we started filling out our home study application last August, we made an appointment with an adoption attorney to learn more about independent / parent-placed adoptions. Then in October we started meeting with our social worker from The Datz Foundation and she discussed the different options with us. While she certainly didn’t push us in either direction I kept hearing one of her points over and over. The big, national placement agencies have a lot of money and it’s difficult to compete against that. If we wanted to pursue an independent adoption, she told us, we’d have to behave like those agencies.
She suggested a profile at ParentProfiles.com. To be honest, the design of the site turns me off. Yes, it does group a whole bunch of people together in one place – like a placement agency’s website – but the profile templates are really cookie cutter. Honestly, there’s probably something to be said for that … but I was hoping our personality and creativity would stand out a little more.
When I found some sites that had more attractive templates, I noticed that they had maybe 25 – 40 active families and they weren’t that easy to find so I worried birth families wouldn’t be able to find them.
The more I thought about it, the more I worried that an independent adoption would take too much time and as my 37th birthday was approaching, I worried that it was time I didn’t have to spare.
So, we hit up Google sites for a free website we could use on our business cards and started researching placement agencies. Phew. There are a lot choices out there.
In the end, our pick was not that original. We decided on American Adoptions. They’ve done more adoptions in 10 years than any other placement agency in the country and they pretty much own “adoption” on the Internet. I guess it turned out to be one of those “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” kind of situations.
Before we made up our mind however, we (I) did a lot of research. Here are the things I really liked about American Adoptions:
- As I mentioned, they own the Internet when it comes to adoption. Type adoption into Google and you’ll find that American Adoptions is the first item displayed (sometimes via paid ad, sometime organically). See image above.
- They spend more than $1.5 million a year in marketing to reach out to pregnant women considering adoption.
- They complete more than 300 adoptions a year – an excellent track record.
- They have one of the lowest adoption disruption rates.
- There’s a money-back offer. Well, not really. BUT, they do have unique financial protection for clients. If a birth mother changes her mind, the adoptive family does not lose any money they spent on living expenses, medical expenses, counseling expenses and in most cases, legal expenses. The only money that’s committed up front that will not be re-funded is the activation fee (which, in the interest of full disclosure, is steep and allows them to spend so much money on advertising each year). However, that activation fee is still in place as you try for your second placement (whether that is immediately, or if you want to take some time).
- There’s not a set cost; each family sets a fixed budget for their adoption. We set a budget up front and the staff outlines all potential fees for each situation.
- Domestically, 99 percent of their adoptions are healthy newborns and infants.
- The agency was founded by an adoptee (like me!) and his adoptive parents and lots of people on the client services staff have personal experience with adoption, including the adoption specialist assigned to us. Same goes for the birth parent specialist side of the clinical practice, too.
- Counseling for birth moms. Look, all agencies require this so nothing sets American Adoptions apart here. BUT, it’s hard to get a feeling for how well they do it. We’re not entirely sure how well AA does it, but, for the most part, we liked the way they answered our questions about it. I don’t want a disruption, but I also don’t want to take a child from a woman who feels like she’s being coerced at the last minute.
Selecting the placement agency is the part of the process I have felt the least comfortable with so far. There are so many choices and whoever we pick will ultimately be responsible for bringing our child to us. I’d love to be able to say that we made an entirely logical decision based on facts, figures and statistics. But, in the end, parts of picking this agency were totally random. We liked the people at the informational session. They waived the application fee when we attended an open house. The design of the profiles on their site are more appealing to me than some of the others I’ve seen. The list goes on and on. BUT, at some point, we just had to pick and American Adoptions seemed like a good fit. Time will tell if we made a good call.