By this time, you've probably already narrowed the field down to
a few programs. Now comes the time to identify and evaluate possible
adoption agencies with international programs. But first, let's
consider for a second what the adoption agency actually does.
Unlike other international programs, Korea requires that
prospective adoptive parents use only those agencies specifically
authorized to place children in their state of residence. Some
agencies have direct programs that are authorized to place waiting children nationwide. Some
local adoption agencies will partner with a direct service adoption agency.
Make sure you understand what kind of program your prospective
adoption agency has, how it works, and with whom.
I've compiled a list of all the authorized agencies by state,
partner agency (if applicable), and its affiliated Korean adoption
agency. (Let me know if the
list needs updating.)
State-by-state index of US adoption
with Korean adoption programs
- Reviews eligibility of prospective adoptive parents
- Provides state-mandated home studies
- Assists with
- Coordinate child assignments
- Provide adoptive parenting programs
- Provide state-mandated post-placement services
Many agencies also run waiting parent support groups and
mentoring programs to help anxious and eager adoptive parents
through the process. Take advantage of these, if you can. You'll
also want to ask about post-adoption courses, events, workshops, and
counseling services. The best agencies recognize that adoption
doesn't end when your child joins your family.
recommendation is to ask your friends and family members who have
adopted internationally. Get the names of those agencies
and look them up online or give them a call. Ask for their complete
information kit. Then start reading.
If you don't personally know anyone who has adopted, join a few
adoption e-groups - YahooGroups
is a great place to start. (Take them with a grain of salt as agencies are
known to monitor the lists.)
The hit Google or your favorite search engine. I recommend you try a few of them as each
uses a different indexing system. You'll find you'll get somewhat
different hits. Definitely worth trying.
For example, if Korea is your program, you could start your
search with the following keywords:
Korea/n Adoption, Asian Adoption, International Adoption,
Overseas Adoption, Intercountry Adoption,
one search phrase at a time. (For other international programs, just
add the name of the country you're interested in.)
You might also want to check out the agency listings at
National Council for Adoption ,
Information Gateway, and The Joint
Council on International Children's Services from North America.
I'd also check with your local chapter of
Resolve and adoptive family
organizations in your area for recommendations.
Bear in mind there are many excellent agencies with so-so
websites. Conversely, there are many not-so-hot agencies with
impressive websites. Same reasoning applies to those agencies with
slick vs. homegrown information kits. Remember, it's
your money and your family. Caveat Emptor!
Only you know what's best for your needs. Some people prefer
large, extra-regional agencies with several international programs.
Others prefer smaller agencies closer to home. But as you review
agency literature, attend open houses, and speak with agency
representatives, do keep these questions in mind:
- Does the agency give you a realistic picture
of what it can do, will do, within a given set of limitations?
(Are they promising you the moon and feeding into your desire for
a fast, effortless adoption?)
- How old is the agency itself? How long has it been
placing children from the country you're interested in?
- What is the experience level of its staffers?
Does the agency use contract or staff social workers?
- Does the agency have direct links to its international
counterparts (child welfare agencies and/or orphanages)
or are intermediaries and facilitators used?
- Is the agency accredited and licensed? Any
recent complaints been filed against it?
- Have they given a written schedule of fees?
Are they fee for service? Are they asking for a
large deposit or total fees upfront?
- Are they forthcoming when you ask questions?
- Can they give you recent references from
families they've worked with?
- Do they offer parent support and education
Whatever you do, get lots and lots of information from
lots and lots of agencies.
Check with your local Better
Business Bureau. Ask about agencies on the email lists you've
Adoption - Tough but doable!
Unless you're independently wealthy (and who wouldn't want to
be), adopting internationally isn't inexpensive. The least expensive
program will run about $10,000. The most expensive could easily cost
$45,000 or more. Don't be disheartened, though. There are many ways
to make your adoption possible with a little creative thinking and
some hard work. Keep in mind, too, that reputable agencies will use
a "pay as you go" system. This means you pay for services as they
RUN AWAY from any agency that is asking for large sums
Upfront costs are application and home study fees (USCIS and state-
and county-mandated paperwork are also paid upfront but not to your
agency.) The bulk of your adoption fees will occur when you have
accepted your child's referral. You don't have to have it all
available in cash either. Financing an adoption through a home
equity loan or special adoption loan through your bank is perfectly
Before you do anything, check out
More Adoption Financing. You'll find several leads to
funding possibilities, including loans, grants and employer benefit
programs. Here's a short list of some possibilities to get you
- Take out a home-equity loan or a second mortgage on your house.
- Ask your bank/credit union about their adoption loan programs.
- Ask your employer if adoption subsidy assistance is offered -
many of the larger corporations do. If they don't, ask them to
consider establishing one.
- Cut your spending to the bone.
- Take a second job for awhile.
- Have a garage sale.
- Sell used books and other clutter on Amazon, Ebay,
Craigslist and similar sites.
- Make something, sell something.
- Tell the relatives you don't need holiday gifts, you need cash
Don't forget the
Federal Adoption Tax Credit! Depending on your
family's adjusted gross income, you may be eligible for a $12,150
(or portion thereof) credit on your federal tax return.
Roberta's Tip - Organize Your Expenses!
It's easy to fall into the trap of juggling credit cards and
checkbooks when you're in the midst of the adoption process. What
we did was use one checkbook and one credit card for all expenses
to make our bookkeeping easier. So take a look at your current
credit cards, which one offers you frequent flyer miles? Hotel
benefits? Cash back and other
sorts of benefits? Clear it from any other expenses and use that
In the end, my husband and I decided to go with a smaller
regional adoption agency with an active Korea program.
Once you decide on your agency, you're really rolling now. Now
let's look at the
paperwork requirements and what you'll need to to.
here for a complete,
state-by-state index of US adoption
placing Korean children!