Thursday, November 30, 2006

Can One Agency Do it All?

Is it possible for one agency to do all three kinds of adoption (international, domestic infant, and special needs) and serve all their families well?

If so, what do they need to do in order to make sure that families in all programs are getting their needs met?

Since agencies who do all three often have one that they excel in, would it be better if agencies were restricted to only do the program that they did best?


Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Kate, an adoptive parent, addresses all of these questions:

Is it possible for one agency to do all three kinds of adoption (international, domestic infant, and special needs) and serve all their families well?
Yes! This is particularly true because many agencies do not tell you the actual cost of adoption up front. If a prospective adoptive parent, with no experience in the various kinds of adoptions, approaches an International agency, they will likely fill out forms & go to meetings before realizing they can't possibly afford it...and then they are told, "sorry, we can't help you." At best the agency gives them phone numbers of other agencies, and they start the whole discouraging process again. Wouldn't it be better if agency could say, "This program doesn't look like the best one for you...would you consider our domestic foster care?" The agency could explain it without the family filling out another application and driving to another location. Also, since many families adopt from more than one program, it would streamline the process if they could stick with the same agency.

If so, what do they need to do in order to make sure that families in all programs are getting their needs met?
Have staff that are thoroughly familiar with the requirements of ALL programs. There is nothing worse than being given false hope & inaccurate information...for example, applying for fost/adopt and being told you will never get an infant, then being referred to a domestic infant agency and filling out more forms & answering more questions, only to be told it will cost $50,000. It would be more efficient if you could get the facts about the different programs in one location.

Since agencies who do all three often have one that they excel in, would it be better if agencies were restricted to only do the program that they did best?
No...the only reason agencies excel in one program as opposed to others is because they hire STAFF that excel/prefer/recommend one program over another. An AGENCY is not an entity; the agency's expertise is defined by the PEOPLE who run it. If you speak Spanish fluently and have successfully adopted from South America, you are naturally inclined to feel that the South American program is wonderful because it worked for you. You might start an agency to help others adopt from South America. Another social worker, who has had a close relationship with a birthmother and adopted her infant, might be more familiar with this process and feel it's the best route. Hiring staff with expertise in different programs will insure that the agency develops expertise in diverse adoption methods.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Colleen, an agency director, shares:

If agencies were restricted to one type of program, it would limit the
families they could work with. It is true that most agencies do have
certain programs that are stonger than others, but if they understand the
process and comply with all the regula
tions they shouldn't be limited to one type. It comes down to meeting the
needs of the families that the agency serves. If the agency has staff that
is qualified and comfortable with the types of adoption services they
provide, there should be no prob
lem. Families should make sure they research the agency they choose to use
thoroughly, talk to other families about their experiences with the agency.
One of the most important tips for families in choosing an agency and a
program is to make sure the
agency will communicate with them and understand their needs.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Kris, an adoptive parent in Ohio, says:

Yes, an agency could do all 3 if and only if they have a group of people who specialize in each of the 3 areas.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Janice, who directs Adoptions Together in Maryland states:

Adoptions Together does it all, and in my opinion we do it well. But I do need to add that "all" includes post adoption support in addition to child placement. We take a holistic approach to permanency for children and begin with education before moving in any direction. We have teams that provide each type of placement with our Center for Adoptive families in the middle of all we do. That means that all programs are enriched by educational, mental health and supportive services. Services are available to families as children mature. Since we believe that all children regardless of race, health, age or geography deserve to be raised in a family we feel fortunate to do both domestic and international adoption.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Gina, a CPS worker in TX says:

I think it is possible for one agency to do it all if they have a separate department for each program. I think the biggest part to making it a success is not over loading the workers with cases so they can provide for and work with the families appropriately. I also believe that if agencies get too big some will not be able to provide as they should, but each agency needs to look at their situation without their rose colored glasses or what they can do in the name of money.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Jodi writes:

We have been able to do this at our agency. We have a worker who specializes in special needs, another who works on international, and we all work on infant. All of us may end up doing any of the three so that we all have a basic understanding of each type of adoption and are able to answer questions when there are inquiries. Many of our families have interests in more than one program and we allow them to be part of two if they would like to be. I would not restrict agencies due to the flexibility that they are offered by being able to work with more than one program. This also helps our agency out if they are willing to consider special needs in addition to infant for example. This means some children get placed that we would otherwise have difficulty finding a home for due to foster homes being at capacity. I believe that we serve our families well in all three programs. If a family is unhappy it is due to individual issues, not due to the program itself, in most cases.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Barbara Holtan comments:

Here's my bias: adoption is adoption and whether the "type" is international, infant or U.S. foster care adoption, the issues are the same when it comes to parent education/preparation. Beyond that, there are certainly variables depending on type: eg for international knowing the "ropes" in re: visas and dossiers; for U.S. foster care adoption, knowing about subsidies and MA cards etc. But this type-specific information, while very important, is less important, in my view than the overall understanding that a child coming to adoption from anywhere at any age is a child of loss who will need parents who understand this - parents who understand that adoption is not an event but a process - parents who understand they are making a life-time commitment to a child and thereby becoming a new and different kind of family. Sure, one agency can do all three types of adoption and serve all the families well if they ground the whole thing on parent preparation and then commit to be there for the families after placement - for as long as it takes!

8:06 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Martha, a CPS worker in TX, says

Since I recently placed two American children with an agency that does intenational, I think that agencies that do international should see that their families are licensed for all categories and then they could go with whatever match came up first/best. Martha

8:07 AM  

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