25 Questions to Ask Your Adoption Professional

By PairTree

December 23, 2023

4m read

Finding an ethical adoption professional to work with is no small task.

We've put together 25 questions to ask your adoption professional to ensure your adoption is healthy - emotionally, financially, mentally and physically.

Questions to Ask All Adoption Professionals

For those just starting their adoption journey - or even those looking to expand their outreach with the help of an adoption professional - the number of options can be overwhelming! And how will you know who to choose?

Here are our top questions adopting families can use to evaluate a potential adoption partner.

1. Have expectant parents been provided counseling on all of their options? Were they offered resources and support to parent if they choose?

Expectant parents have the right to objective information on their options, as well as the support and resources they need to make an informed decision free from coercion.

2. Do expectant parents have separate legal representation from the adoptive parents? Who pays for it?

Expectant parents have the right to their attorney, at no cost to them. This ensures they are able to make an educated, informed decision and receive adequate explanation of the legal process from a non-biased party.

3. Do you show expectant parents families based on how long they have been waiting to adopt? Does an expectant mom get to choose the family?

Expectant parents should be shown adopting families that match what they are looking for in an adopting family - not the families that have been waiting the longest. If a professional presents families based on their wait list, or refuses to look outside of their immediate network to find an adoptive family that fits an expectant moms needs, their practice isn’t expectant parent focused.

4. Did the expectant mother get to choose her own doctor? And hospital to deliver at?

Expectant mom’s have the right to choose their own doctor and hospital to deliver at. Failing to allow her to do so is a coercive practice and a sign of unethical behavior.

5. Do you fly expectant parents to another state to place their child?

Expectant mom’s should never be removed from their home and support system, and flown to a different state to give birth. Do not be fooled by the offers of “birth parent housing.” This is an unethical practice meant to coerce women into having a successful placement.

6. How many counseling sessions does an expectant parent receive prior to placing?

Some states have required pre-surrender counseling sessions. Ask about the laws in your state, and if there isn’t a law, ask how many that professional requires. The more counseling, the better.

7. Do you encourage open adoption? Do you help coordinate an open adoption agreement?

All parties have the right to create a Post-Adoption Contact Agreement, or Open Adoption Agreement, to set expectations for future communications and lay the groundwork for relationships with each other. Open Adoption Agreements set reasonable expectations and help hold all members of the triad accountable. If a professional offers ‘closed adoption’ as an option, or encourages you to not tell a child about their adoption until they’re ‘older’, these are signs of unethical behavior.

8. Do you provide a detailed breakdown of adoption expenses?

Asking questions about what you’re paying for is your right. Pay attention to “matching fees”, “agency fees”, additional legal fees, out of state adoption fees. Look for anything extra and pay close attention to the fine print.

9. Do you charge a “matching fee”? Why is there a matching fee? Is it refundable if the birth family decides to parent?

Matching fees are a red flag, especially if they are non-refundable.

pregnant woman waiting to give birth at the hospital

10. Does someone from your team support expectant moms in the hospital?

If yes, what does that support look like? Will she be asked to sign anything in the hospital? If no, why not? Is this something you can offer?

11. Are both parents choosing adoption?

If not, why? Has the birth father been notified? If not, when? Birth fathers have rights and it’s important to involve them as early as possible.

12. Do you offer post-placement support? For how long? Are they free?

Post-placement support is vital to expectant moms and they should have free access to it for life.

13. Do you make sure an expectant mom has access to Medicaid or insurance? Quality health care?

Pregnant women have immediate access to Medicaid, at no cost to them. Make sure your adoption professional will help her get signed up for health care and find a medical provider she is comfortable with.

14. What medical expenses will I be responsible for?

Ask your adoption professional if they will help you navigate the insurance process, and if they know what medical expenses to plan for throughout the pregnancy and delivery (any co-pays, fees for circumcision, etc.)

15. What is the legal limit allowed for expectant parent expenses? How are they handled?

All states have laws surrounding expectant and birth parent expenses. Agencies or attorneys that are willing to break or circumvent these laws are unethical; offering cash payments or a check for placement is unethical and coercive, and in most states, illegal. Expenses should be paid directly to the service providers - landlords, phone and utility companies, etc.

16. Will an expectant parent ever be offered a lump sum in cash or check?

All states have laws surrounding expectant and birth parent expenses. Agencies or attorneys that are willing to break or circumvent these laws are unethical; offering cash payments or a check for placement is unethical and coercive, and in most states, illegal.

17. What are your education requirements for hopeful adoptive parents?

The more education required - the better. Adoption professionals that prioritize education most likely are ethical adoption professionals.

Questions for Adoption Consultants

18. Do you communicate directly with expectant and birth parents?

It is illegal for consultants to have any direct contact with expectant and birth parents.

19. Can I see your list of partner agencies prior to signing a contract?

Consultants help you achieve what’s called a “multi-agency” approach, but that often means they work with some questionable agencies and attorneys in an effort to “speed up” the adoption process. If they won’t share the list of agencies they work with, or require you to sign up with, that’s a red flag for unethical behavior.

20. Do you require a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?

If a professional asks you to sign an NDA, that usually signals they participate in unethical practices and don’t want you to talk about it.

newborn baby held by adoptive dad

Questions for Adoption Attorneys

21. What organizations are you a part of?

Look for organizations like AAAA (The American Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys), NCFA (National Council for Adoption), or your local family law bar associations.

22. How many adoptions do you handle each year?

Working with an attorney that only handles 1 or 2 adoptions each year, means adoption law isn’t their primary practice - which means they aren’t well versed in the intricacies of adoption law.

23. Have any of them been contested or gone to trial? What were the outcomes?

Contested adoption trials are expensive and traumatic, and an attorney that has been part of numerous contested adoption trials could be a sign of unethical behavior.

Questions for Adoption Agencies

24. May I have a breakdown of what services are included in the “agency fee”?

Asking questions about what you’re paying for is your right. If an agency won’t disclose what the “agency fee” pays for, or it’s unnecessarily high, that’s a sign of unethical practices.

25. Do you market to expectant women out of state?

Lots of agencies market themselves as a “national agency”, when really they are only licensed in one or two states. If they market to expectant mothers in different states, ask what the adoption process would look like out of state, and are there additional costs?

How to Spot Red Flags in Adoption Professionals

PairTree CEO Erin and Community Manager Jess Nelson explore additional red flags to look for while you are connecting with potential adoption partners.

PairTree PairTree is an adoption enablement platform that provides connections to the services families need to healthily navigate private adoption.