Choosing The Right Adoption Agency For You

by Linda Michie, Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services

If you are thinking about adopting, the time to find the right agency is now. There is much to consider and the right agency will give you all the information you need to make the right decisions. There are many agencies in Virginia, and several right here in Virginia Beach.

Are you thinking about adopting a baby? Or an older child? A child you already know? A foster child? A sibling group? A child with disabilities? Do you want to start by being a foster parent? Will you search your options for yourself? Or use a matching agency? Will you use an agency that already has children in their care? Or one that matches to expectant birth-mothers or other agencies?

There’s a lot to think about before you even begin.

First. Your agency must be licensed. Adoption Agencies are licensed by the state. The states all have different guidelines. Some agencies are licensed in multiple states. You can adopt a child from another state as long as you have an interstate compact approval (more on that later.)

You can work with an agency that has custody of children. There are social service agencies across the country that have custody of children in foster care (reportedly somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000 children at any given time) and there are private foster care agencies that provide therapeutic foster homes as well.


You can work with an agency that does not have custody of children. These agencies do home studies, placement assistance, and post-placement supervision. These agencies are appropriate for you if you already know the child you want to adopt (through a parental placement), if you want to search for a child on your own, or if you want to use one of the matching agencies from another state.

Matching agencies come in different forms. Some agencies pass approved home study family information to social workers, some to expectant birth-mothers.

You can work with the Department of Social Services through their foster-to-adopt program. You go through their training and acceptance program and become a foster parent who may adopt a foster child that is placed with you. Many of these children are older and have had complicated childhoods.

Regardless of which route you choose, the agency that’s right for you will:

  • Be able to tell you with whom you will be working
  • Allow you to meet that person or persons before you begin
  • Be professional, pleasant, and truly interested in your family
  • Answer your calls or return them immediately
  • Disclose all possible fees
  • Give you a timeline for the knowable parts of the process
  • Explain their process and any possible difficulties that you may encounter

Because adoption is such an involved and personal experience, you will want to work with someone who is available to you and fits your needs.

Interview people! If they are truly interested in working with your family they will be happy to spend their time to ensure that you are comfortable with your choice.

Wishing Well offers free consultations to Virginia families who are considering beginning the adoption process. Just call Linda at (757) 739-2118, or email:

Linda Michie

Linda Michie

Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services
Linda Michie holds a Master's degree in Urban Studies, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University.
Linda has worked in the child welfare field since 1999 and is a Licensed Child Placing Agent.
Wishing Well assists in domestic adoptions in the state of Virginia, and provides parenting coaching, and supervised visitation in Virginia Beach, VA.
Linda Michie

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