Can you recommend a great adoption agency?

My husband and I are starting to look into adoption. We are not sure if we are interested in domestic or international. Does anyone have experience using an adoption agency here in the East Bay and if so who and why did you like them or not like them? Any other advice on how we should start this process would be greatly appreciated! 

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Try Dawn Davenport's website   We adopted internationally in 2007, and our agency is closed.  I know international adoption has changed a lot.  But we started with a class at Adoption Connection in SF about intl vs domestic--I checked just now and it is not being offered now.  One of my friends is involved with PACT - a transracial adoption group - and they are reputable if you are thinking of that (we did not adopt transracially and I am not in PACT).  Gathering info before signing on with one agency is a good idea.  Best wishes.

I recommend Heartsent Adoptions in Orinda. The have domestic and international programs. I adopted from China in 2009 and every detail of the process was expertly and lovingly managed by Heartsent. They offer classes for prospective, waiting and new parents about parenting, attachment & bonding, cultural awareness. They guided me every step of the way. Good luck on your journey! 

We used Across the World Adoptions in Pleasant Hill for some post placement paperwork after we moved to California from another state. They were great and recommended by a friend who adopted internationally four times. 

When my husband and I were starting the process we went to several information nights at various places, which we found helpful to assess the agency and the process. If you are considering an international adoption, call around to different places and ask about their programs. They don’t need to be located in California, but they’ll need to get a home study that’s been approved in California. Often agency websites have general info on basic requirements of the parents (age, marital status, length of marriage, number of children in the home, age range of kids typically available, setting of kids [foster care, orphanage], and travel requirements). It’s a good way to narrow it down. 

Also, I am 90% sure the only way to get an infant is to adopt domestically and even that is not a guarantee. One key decision point is whether you prefer an infant. There are more options if you are open to toddlers or kids but that’s a big decision.

finally, I found it helpful to talk with a friend who had adopted about her experience, warts and all. It helped me be more realistic about expectations. 

Best wishes on this special journey!

We adopted from China in 2006 and you should know that the international process has changed drastically since then, getting a lot harder, with countries either closing to the US or declining to a crawl. This is due to different factors, including increased regulation (Hague Treaty) and politics.  For instance, China peaked at something like 8,000 adoptions a year down to about 1,000. Frankly, if we were to start now, I think we would go the domestic route.  If you do still want to consider international adoption, I would recommend that you not go with a local agency, but do your homework based on the country you want to go to and find the best agency for that country.  For instance, we used WACAP in Seattle (now merged with HOLT).  They are used to working with people long distance and that will give you the best chance - you then partner with a local agency to do your homestudy. As a great source of information, I would recommend the Adoptive Families Magazine website, with all sorts of agency and process information - for domestic and international adoption. Here is a link about countries and agencies:

Another great source of information is the State Department for factual statistics on adoption by country.

Here's an article from NPR about the adoption decline:

The number one general advice I would give you on any agency is to do your homework. Ask the agency for referrals of other parents you can talk to about their experience and make sure you feel 100% comfortable with them.  We did this, but were shocked about how many people told us they just went with a friend's recommendation or the first agency they talked too. Best of luck in your journey - it's a tough process but it's so worth it, and our daughter has transformed our lives.