Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adoption Agency Rating

For 8 years now I have been around the ‘adoption world’. Actually before that due to my degree in Social Work. One of the top questions I get (besides how much does it cost to adopt) is how to find a good agency. We have worked with several agencies over the years and I am going to tell you that every single one that we worked with were good.

Were they perfect? No. And, I wouldn’t expect them to be. After all, they are human and humans make mistakes. I know I sure do.

Were there times when I got discouraged or upset? You bet. Adoption is not for the weak at heart. There is a lot of emotion involved in an adoption. As many will tell you- it is an emotional rollercoaster. There are many people involved in the process along the way. There are many steps- each one a hurdle- and often times a road block. Want to be parents often fall in love with a picture- or a ‘dream’ they have and they feel somehow connected or perhaps ownership to that child before the child is ‘legally’ theirs. While I will tell you that I have done that exact thing each time- and I am glad, I also had to be willing and be prepared for a broken heart- which often times happened.

We have lost referrals where the birth mom came back.

We have had children in our home that we loved with our entire hearts- only to have them move on.

We have found out things about the child once they came home that they agency was unaware of.

We have prayed and dreamed about a certain child -to have door after door closed.

I wouldn’t change that for anything. I wouldn’t even change the pain. For each child received our prayers, each child received our love- even if they won’t ever know it- and each child changed who I am today.

However, often times I have seen individual become bitter and down right nasty towards agencies because things didn’t go ’their way’. I am not saying that there are not unethical agencies out there- which is why I always encourage people to do their research and then research some more. And I am not saying that people are not entitled to their feelings of frustration and hurt. However, they also need to exercise forgiveness when those mistakes are made because none of us are perfect.

Want to be adoptive parents need to play an active and responsible role in their adoption process by making copies of everything and ’checking in’ on their agencies. And when I say ‘checking in’ I don't mean constantly emailing and calling or constantly doubting or accusing. We have tried our hardest to be respectful of our agencies time - because after all when they are constantly busy responding to senseless calls and emails then that is less time they have to work on your case or other cases as well. We have had wonderful working relationships with each one of our agencies- and many have turned into lifetime friendships and respect.

I have seen many families display a sense of entitlement towards their agencies- feeling that 'they paid them enough they ought to be doing their job’ the way the individual wants them to. From our first hand experience I know if you treat your agency with respect, thanking them, and supporting them that the relationship you have with your agency will end up being one of the greatest gifts you get through the adoption process. While yes you are paying an agency to do a job- they still deserve your respect and kindness.

The other day I had a friend ask me about an agency they were considering using. I found an agency rating website online and began reading what some people had written about their agencies. Actually 3 of the agencies we have worked with were on there and I was crushed with some of the negative responses they had received. These were people who have worked along side of us to bring our children home. People that I know put their heart and soul into their job- and do not just look at it as a paycheck- but deeply care about the children and the families adopting them. These are people who have cried with me, laughed with me, went above and beyond their job description for my family. People we consider our friends. Some of the comments were downright ugly and vindictive. Individuals listing complaint after complaint- name calling and pretty much tearing apart the agency and individuals working for the agency. Many of the comments I have a feeling were coming from the same person. It broke my heart and I simply do not understand. I do not understand why someone would be so nasty and tear apart someone’s character just because things didn’t go the way they had wanted on their adoption journey. I will tell you that none of our adoptions have gone exactly the way we thought they would either. But through the difficulties and through the good- we have learned things that can now hopefully help others along the way. We have walked away from one agency because we didn’t feel that they were the right agency for us and we were not confident that they were ethical. However, we didn’t feel that it was fair or right to publicly bad mouth them or tear them apart.

So my advice on finding a good agency is to do a lot of research but also be cautious of others opinions and remember you are only getting one side of the story. As with anything in life-we all have our differences in taste and opinions and a agency that might not be a good fit for one person may be a great fit for someone else. Also, some agencies may have an excellent program and good contacts in one country but not necessarily for all of the countries they work with.
Allow room for human error- from your agency and from you. Pray a lot and then let God lead you to your child. The journey may be full of bumps-but worth every single one of them.

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Lisa H. said...

Great post, Amy! I totally agree with you! And I didn't know you have a degree in social work...Miss Smarty Pants! :o)

Hope the new year brings you special blessings!

Unknown said...

Happy New Year! This would be a great post on my Adoption Resource blog. Let me know if I can share it!

One thing I will say is this - many agencies don't treat the clients in a respectful manner. Many don't communicate in a way that will ease the adoptive parents minds through each stage. Many first time adoptive parents are also first time parents and this is a HUGE step for them and they feel completely out of control. I have been around adoption now for 5 years and like you have experienced several agencies - sadly I hear over and over again the same complaint..."I'm paying them to help me not work against us."

In the end it comes down to faith. Faith that God brought you to the exact agency so that He could bring home the child He has for your family. So the good and bad come with that faith walk. God will use the hard trials along the way to prepare you for the new journey ahead when your forever child comes home!

I love you Amy!

You are such a blessing!

Julie said...

Wonderful post.

wvamom said...

I have worked with two different agencies, to bring home our beautiful boys from Guatemala. Both agencies, I thought, did well for us, but I saw several people who went with our first agency whose adoptions took much longer than necessary because of the attorney in Guatemala-the same attorney who worked well for us. I think the agency did all they could for those parents, but I also think that the adoptive parents were within their rights to complain when the adoptions took at least a year longer than necessary because of the attorney the agency was working with. But after getting a referral, I know most people would go to the ends of the earth to bring that child home, so they were not likely to change agencies, much less get the child assigned to another attorney. It can be quite a tough situation.

Complain for the sake of complaining? Certainly not--but then again, not everyone has the same experience, even with the same agency.

Yes, international (or even domestic) adoption is not for the faint-hearted, but qualified adoptive parents should have the right to have the agency advocate on their behalf to complete the adoption. And agencies should "hire" responsibly in other countries, to make sure the intermediary will be a diligent advocate for the parents.

Thanks for speaking out on a sensitive topic.

Gretchen said...

Well put!

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.