Fostering 101: The Adoption Process

Happy New Year, all!  While we wait (and wait and wait….) for our new foster member of the family to join our household (more on that later), here’s part II of our series on what we’ve learned during our foster journey so far.  Do any of your rescue organizations have processes similar to this?  What’s different?  Feel free to share in the comments below!   ~Laura

Every rescue organization has their own adoption process.  Since it’s the one I’m familiar with, I’ll walk you through Agape’s:

Every pet in the Agape foster system is featured on their adoptable pets page on the website, as well as on  Foster dogs also take part in adoption events, about once a month.  Families have the chance to “meet” the Agape dogs either online or at one of these events.  If they decide that a particular pet might be the one for them, the first thing they do is fill out an application.  Agape will then review the application, and forward a copy to the foster family.

The foster family then has a chance to review the application as well.  The foster family often knows more about the dog than the Agape staff, since the foster family sees the dog every day and knows their routine, their preferences, their quirks and their personalities.  Foster families know what kind of environment would be best for their foster dog, and can give their recommendation back to Agape. 

Once an application has been submitted, Agape will arrange a “meet & greet” with the potential adopters.  The meet & greet is a chance for everyone to get acquainted.  The potential family will bring all its members (including children & dogs) to a neutral site like a park to meet the foster dog, the foster family and a representative from Agape.  From there we go on a walk and just get to know each other.  The potential family has a chance to ask questions of the foster family and get to know more detail about the dog than the online profile goes into, and Agape gets to learn about the potential family’s routine, activity level and lifestyle to see if they would be a good match.  For example, an older retired couple living the quiet life might not be happy with a bouncy 6 month old Border Collie, and a young active couple who want a companion for outdoor sports may not be satisfied with a Basset Hound.

If, after the meet & greet, the potential family is still interested in the dog, we move forward with a home visit.  At the home visit, the dog is brought to the house and Agape has a chance to see the environment the dog will be living in.  What’s the backyard like?  Are there other dogs in the neighborhood?  Where will the dog be while people are at work?  If it is a rental unit, is the landlord on board with a new four-legged tenant? At this time the dog will get a chace to explore the home and start to get comfortable there.  Then the foster family takes the dog back home again, leaving the potential family to decide once and for all if this is the dog they want. 

If they are still head over heels in puppy-love, we move forward with the adoption. The adopting family will sign the adoption contract, and pay an adoption fee. The foster family will bring the dog back over to his new People’s home, and say good-bye.

Why so many steps? 

Agape (and all rescues) put a lot of time, effort and resources into each dog in their program.  While their goal is to place dogs into homes as quickly as possible, the last thing they want to do is place a dog in a home that is not a good fit.  The dog would not be happy, the family would not be happy, and it runs the chance of the dog being returned. It is Agape’s policy that if, for some reason after the adoption, the family decides that the dog is not a good match after all, they are required to return the dog to Agape.  By that time, there’s a good chance the original foster family has a new foster dog, and may not be able to take the first one back.  The rescue would then have to find a new foster home for the dog.  Imagine how confusing and potentially traumatizing all that bouncing around would be for the poor pup!  You can see why every precaution is taken to make sure a return does not happen.  Going through each of these steps helps to ensure that all parties (fosters, new family, rescue, and of course the dogs) are comfortable with the match and helps provide a low return rate. 

Next in Fostering 101 – The Importance of Support



Filed under Fostering 101

6 responses to “Fostering 101: The Adoption Process

  1. I love this! I know people wonder why the adoption process is so “long” when going through a rescue – but you really hit the nail on the head. We love these dogs so much that we’re willing to do all this work to make sure they end up in the perfect place, and the potential family should too! If someone isn’t willing to put in the time/effort, they’re probably not the right family for the dog anyway. Well said!


    • Thanks! We got Oscar from a shelter, but we had also looked at several rescue organizations. We also wondered what was up with the whole process (A home visit? Why?). But now that we work with Agape and foster, I would be heartbroken if an adoption didn’t work out. I’d much rather take the extra steps to make sure the dog is going to the perfect furever home!


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