How to Find an Agency
To find a reputable adoption agency to work with, often one of the most helpful things is to simply ask people you know who have adopted to recommend agencies to you that they have had a good experience with or know to be reputable. Then contact those agencies asking for informational packets (or search their programs online).
Ask about the type of programs they offer, their fee structure, how they assess and prepare families in the process, and how long a placement generally takes. Identifying the programs that your family qualifies for is often a good way to begin to narrow down the type of program you feel most drawn to pursuing (domestic, international, foster care, etc.) Additionally, agencies often post a “programs at a glance” type listing that can be a great help in determining which programs your family qualifies for based on specific State and country requirements (like this example: http://www.chsfs.org/InternationalAdoptionChart).
It is not necessary to use an agency to complete your adoption. Private or independent adoptions have consistently grown in popularity over the past few decades. Through an independent adoption, birth mothers work directly with adoptive families, often with legal aid or an attorney, to negotiate and settle on a process that works best for both parties without any perceived bureaucratic influence. This is a more flexible type of adoption that allows both the adoptive and birth parents to create the relationship and adoption they want. Private adoption also allows the adoptive parents to take the child directly home from the hospital bypassing any foster homes or other care facilities.