Saturday, December 16, 2006

Step 2: Choosing an Agency

So, yesterday I thought I was COMPLETELY sure of which agency we were going to use to adopt our two kids...But, today I am back on the fence! Ugh...

There are a TON of things to take into account when choosing an adoption agency. International adoption is always unpredictable. Sometimes you have to worry about whether or not an agency is being completely ethical in their identification of children for adoption. You want to make sure that the kids they refer to you are truly orphans and truly in need of adoption. The last thing an adoptive parent would want is to remove a child from their family, from their culture, from their country when it is not needed. In a perfect world, all of the kids could stay with their biological families and adoptive parents wouldn't be needed. Unfortunately, our world is not a perfect place.

When we started looking at agencies we gathered as much info as we could about all of them. This meant scouring the internet for information on their program, contacting them to ask questions and learn more, checking out adoption forums online to get feedback from other families who used the agencies, we examined cost profiles for the agencies (there is an incredible amount of variation in cost from $8,900 to nearly $20,000 for one child), we looked at wait times from sending in the application to actually getting started on the dossier and then from dossier to referral, and we considered the interaction we had with the contact people in the agency. So many things....We also considered whether or not the agency would place children who were HIV+ with adoptive parents. These kids are just as deserving as a "healthy" child to live in loving homes. So many things to consider....

We are down to two agencies now. One of them is a well-established program that has been working in Ethiopia for several years and has a good reputation. The drawback to this agency is that they have so many clients and the wait time is longer. They also will not work with families who are interested in adopting two unrelated children under 6 (we're not sure this is an issue for us, but it is a consideration if there are no sibling groups available in our age range). Because they have so many clients, the personal interaction between families is not as good. I've sent several emails that have not been answered quite yet. Although I'm sure if I called them I would get answers quickly. I just like email for some reason. This agency provides lots of humanitarian aid in Ethiopia and works with children who are HIV+.

The second agency is an agency that was recently licensed in Ethiopia in July. So, it is a new program. The program is up and running, though. They have had a few families ALREADY come home with their children (having started in July, that is pretty quick turn around)! They have had a few set-backs (as all new programs do). They are willing to refer two unrelated children to a family at the same time and actually seem to think this is a great idea (as the kids are being referred from an orphanage setting, so if there is more than one of them going home at the same time, they have someone else to go through the experience with). Getting adopted is a pretty BIG DEAL to a little kid. I can imagine the transition would be incredibly difficult, especially if you were doing it alone. This agency is SLIGHTLY cheaper than the other agency....Because its new and a small agency, they have fewer clients and a shorter wait time....and the contact person I have been talking to has been AMAZING! She gets back to me and I feel as though she's being completely honest with me. Those are GOOD things!

So, I'm going to ask a few more questions and see if I can come up with a definitive answer. Like I said, I thought I knew for sure yesterday...but now I'm doing more detective work!

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