On selecting an adoption agency

Once we decided we were ready to begin the adoption process, which in and of itself was a multi-year process of growing up and growing together, we started enrolling in introduction classes and submitting outreach emails to all of the adoption agencies in the Chicagoland area.

One thing we learned right off the bat is that adoption agencies, in the domestic adoption sense, aren’t what their commonly-used name implies. Adoption agencies that facilitate domestic adoptions are first and foremost non-profit entities that exist for the welfare of pregnant women. Any fees that they collect from adoptive parents go toward the well-being of pregnant women in need of social services, regardless of whether or not they intend to put their child (or children) up for adoption. While adoption is often a by-product of or the eventual result of a pregnant woman using the services of an adoption agency, it is not the primary reason why such organizations exist.

With that in mind, we began to assess what was right for us through that lens. Some of the adoption agencies in the area were very blunt about the role of adoptive parents in their work being the lowest of their priorities. Some agencies made it seem like all adoptive parents were guaranteed babies, if only they followed the required steps and paid up; little was said about the welfare of birth mothers or how our fees would be used.

When we met with the Adoption Center of Illinois (ACI), we finally felt like we’d found a classic ‘Goldilocks’-style ‘just right’ fit . An agency that was clear, up front, and balanced about their actual mission – to provide care and services for women in need – with their complementary goal of connecting birth parents and adoptive parents.

Since starting to work with ACI, we’ve learned a lot. About who might consider putting a child up for adoption, about who might be looking to adopt a child, and about the entire process in general. Through and through, ACI has been grounded in reality. There’s no guarantee in adoption – while we sincerely hope to adopt, no agency or 3rd party should ever guarantee anything to a couple or individual seeking to pursue a domestic adoption. Their emphasis on training us on the realities of the adoption process has kept us grounded (but still excited) about the realities that lie ahead.

We can’t wait to be parents, but regardless of what happens for us, we’re very glad that ‘adoption’ agencies exist, because they provide services, counseling, and support to women in particularly vulnerable times of need.