Guide to Finding an Adoption Service Provider

International adoption is an important opportunity for orphaned children who are unable to find permanency in their own country to find a loving permanent home with a family in the United States. COA is proud to work in collaboration with the US Department of State, adoption service providers, and many others, to help ensure adoptions are conducted ethically and in the best interests of children and families.

The following general information may be helpful to prospective adoptive parents interested in starting the intercountry adoption process.  

Adoption service providers can provide detailed information about the adoption process.  Most adoptions will include the following steps:

  • selecting adoption service provider(s);
  • gaining approval to adopt;
  • being matched with a child;
  • adopting or gaining legal custody of the child; and
  • applying for a visa for the child to enter the US.

COA recommends prospective adoptive parents take the following steps to begin the intercountry adoption process. 

Research Intercountry Adoption and Country-specific Information

The Department of State is the Central Authority in the United States, responsible for carrying out certain responsibilities under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the Federal laws governing intercountry adoption.  The Department publishes general information on intercountry adoptions, detailed information about the adoption process in each country, and posts notices and alerts about countries where intercountry adoption is not possible or where there are issues that might make it difficult to complete an adoption or obtain an immigrant visa for your child. 

See the Department of State's Intercountry Adoption page.

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Select a Primary Provider

Federal laws relating to intercountry adoption require a Hague Accredited Agency or Hague Approved Person to be involved in every intercountry adoption and assume the role of Primary Provider. Therefore, in order for you to complete an intercountry adoption, you will need to engage the services of a primary provider to oversee the adoption services provided in your adoption. Federal laws do not require the primary provider to be located or licensed in the state in which you live and the primary provider may not be the same agency or individual that completes you home study. Cases initiated before these laws were passed may not be subject to this requirement.

There are so many adoption service providers – how do I select a provider?

Searching for a Primary Provider

  • Search COA’s Who is Accredited? page to see a list of providers with a program in the country you are interested in adopting from.  If you haven’t selected a country, COA encourages you to research Hague Accredited Agencies and Hague Approved Persons to find a provider who can assist you with your adoption.  Finding an Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider may help you search COA's list.
  • Providers do not have programs in every country and not every provider is willing to work on adoptions in countries where they don’t have a program.  If there are no providers that have a program in the country you are interested in, you can review Finding a Primary Provider or contact Hague Accredited Agencies and Approved Persons to inquire if they are interested in working with you.
  • If you have already begun the adoption process and have determined that you need to engage the services of a primary provider, it is important to have all your adoption documentation easily accessible when you begin reaching out providers. This will assist you and the provider in determining if you can work together and what the next steps are.  

Selecting a Primary Provider

COA recognizes that prospective adoptive parents take many factors into consideration when selecting a primary provider.  The Department of State provides some guidance on Selecting an Adoption Service Provider.

COA makes information available on its website about any substantiated complaints or adverse actions taken against a provider: Substantiated Complaints and Adverse Actions. You can contact the local state licensing authority to determine if they make similar information available.  

All Hague Accredited Agencies and Approved Persons are required to disclose specific information including, but not limited to: their policies and practices, eligibility criteria, fees, and certain data about their adoption work. COA encourages you to review their information and ask questions.

Useful links:

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In administration for 22 of 24 years at Child Saving Institute, a COA-accredited not-for-profit child welfare agency in Omaha, Nebraska. Retired approximately two years ago, I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where I advocate for children's rights as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer to three young children.
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