This sounds so much like our experience, except that we used the Poulsbo, WA office. They were brutally inept, charged us an outrageous amount, and were rude to both us and the birth parents. Ours was an out of state adoption, and we were stuck up in WA until we get over hurdles; because of ACD, that process took much longer, and was very frustrating and expensive. I was hoping that Poulsbo was the weak link in the organization, but am not surprised to hear that they are rather awful elsewhere as well.
I've begged the facilitators that we used (Adoption Network, based in southern california) not to refer to ACD again. I hope that you follow up with whoever referred you to ACD, and ask them not to inflict them upon anyone else in the future.
You would think that people who decide to work in the field of adoption would all be good people; sadly, ACD proves otherwise.
We were referred to ACD in Nevada by a third party agency and it was a miserable experience from beginning to end. As we were adopting from out of state the only thing they were required to do was have the social worker facilitate the actual signing of the documents (I will say the social worker was very nice). That one transaction cost more than the agency in our home state who took care of the entire homestudy, filing and post placement (we paid ACD a flat fee- they refuse to send us a detailed receipt becuase "they don't know what was billed"). Post placement there was NO communication. I had to have our attorney IN NV ask them to contact me then I would get an email telling me our file was lost and we needed to re-submit EVERYTHING (this happened twice). Several times we were blatantly lied to so they could save face with the attorney. It took MONTHS to get basic documentation. We were also told that they would be following up with our wonderful birth mother. I am in regular contact with her and know for a fact they never did and it upsets me to think they just abandoned her. Last time I spoke with anyone was 5 months and they didn't even have a record of her name or the baby's birth name. Our adoption was recently finalized here in our home state. I have sent all the paperwork to ACD so they could close out our file. Have not heard from them.
Adopted from Russia using CAS in 2005 and again in 2012 and both times were great experiences. First adoption complete from application to home in 1year. Second complete from application to home in about 13 months. CAS has the childrens interests at heart and does a great job of educating prospective parents. They are like family and continue to answer questions as needed nearly 3 years after we came home with our second child. I would 100% recommend this agency and would choose them again if we adopt again.
Ken and Lynn have been our shining light to point us to our new child. We cannot thank them enough! If you are considering adoption agencies, look no further. You are right where you need to be - There is truly hope for families here!
We have utilized St. Andre's for homestudy/postplacement services for our international adoption since 2012. I wouldn't have considered doing a second adoption WITHOUT them. They make the process as easy and hassle free as it can possibly be and are happy to work alongside the placing agency of our choosing.
We signed onto One World's Bulgaria program very quickly in February of 2013 (as they worked with the same Bulgarian partner we already had a contract with) after our original agency went bankrupt overnight. Our caseworker Allison was excellent throughout the entire process. She was professional, would respond rapidly to my inquiries and was knowledgeable about the in-country process. After a tramautic experience with the unexpected closure of our first agency things went beautifully through our referral, our first trip to Bulgaria, all the way until just after we arrived in Bulgaria on our second visit and picked up my daughter...in late June of 2014.
When a massive error came up while we were at the embassy with my daughter trying to obtain her visa our Bulgarian attorney was unable to contact the agency at all forcing us to have to leave the embassy and figure the issue out for ourselves in hopes of making it back before they closed for business for the day. When I too, tried to contact them (in our worst hour of need) we couldn't reach them. At all.
The Bulgarian lawyer and I were able to figure out the problem after 5 hours and just made it back in time. However I now had a tired, hungry, chicken-pox laden 2-year old along for the ride in the 90-degree heat. Not fun. Not fun at all.
The agency closed suddenly 36 hours later.
After the agency closed the caseworker was able to contact me and give me instructions on how to submit our postplacement reports to Bulgaria on our own (very thankful for her information). But we didn't get this information until after we arrived home and it was an incredibly stressful few days treading the waters of adoption uncertainty in a foreign country. The Bulgarian NGO was great and did everything they could to ease our minds (even though they had no further information). When the dust settled the agency never refunded our postplacement "deposits." Goodness knows where they went. Prior to closing for good we received an e-mail with an explanation from the agency as to why they closed. While I am a firm believer that their are two sides to any story I some of the explanation seemed quite far-fetched to me.
Our family was exceptionally lucky that we did not encounter the ethical and trafficking concerns that were reported in the agency's other countries. Also feel exceptionally grateful that we were as far along in the process as we were when they closed (though I was freaked out at the time).
I would advise against using the agency but they are out of business now, so that is pointless. I would support using our caseworker Allison. She was awesome.
We completed our ethiopia adoption in 2014. When we started the process we thought they were a good agency. There were slowdowns and setbacks that seemed out of the agency's control.
However, toward the end of our process we realized they really are not such a good, honest agency. Their in country staff is very sketchy, and it doesn't seem they have positive relationships with those it's necessary to have them with.
The MO staff also seems to be withholding some important info from the families. Other agencies have been receiving referrals and processing some cases, while CHI is not. It doesn't appear they are working to change this either.
I think the main program running now is china, and i have no experience with that program. However, I would recommend families go with another agency. The same people working in the ethiopia program work with the china program. If they can lie or mislead ethiopia families, they can do it with families in other programs.
Ken and Lynn are truly two angels sent from heaven for the sole purpose of making people's lives better and providing HOPE. That is why their agency is called Hope for Families.
We are currently in our second international adoption through Bethany Christian Services. From beginning to end they have been very thorough and very ethical. They carefully examined each document to make sure there were no errors and things would go smoothly. They were very honest from the beginning about our adoption and travel fees. The education they required of us was excellent and extremely helpful. We chose to adopt a child with special needs. When we received our referral the baby's special needs were not things that are common in the adoption world. They never pressured us to accept the referral. They just gave us the facts, encouraged us to have doctors review her medical file, and then they gave us space to make our decision. While we waited to travel, the doctors who had reviewed our baby's medical file were making medical recommendation for the doctors in our daughter's country. Bethany was very good at passing that information on to our daughter's doctors in her country. Bethany was very good at giving us general updates, medical updates, photos and videos of our daughter in the time we were waiting to travel. When we traveled to our daughter's country, Bethany's staff in that country were just as thorough and professional as the staff in the US. They walked with us each step of the way. We never felt alone or unsafe while oversees. It was very obvious to us when we went to court with our daughter oversees that the Bethany staff was very respected in the court system. Bethany even hired a film crew to video tape the going-away ceremony at the orphanage so we could just enjoy our baby and not need to worry about our camera. We received a beautiful DVD of the ceremony before we left to come home. We were please with them during our first adoption and did not hesitate to use them again for this adoption.
Tried to push us into international adoption and turned down our domestic application stating only that there were not many birth mothers and they did not feel we had what the birth mothers were looking for. We are unable to have children of our own, have a good stable income, beautiful home and community and yet we are turned down with such a vague explanation. Unbelievable.. Needless to say we are looking elsewhere to complete our family.
I am a birthmother and am disheartened to read about so many birth parents and adoptive parents having awful experiences with Bethany. I contacted the Washington State Bethany services in 2006 because I had become pregnant and wanted to place my child for adoption. The adoption counselor walked me through the process every step of the way - and I was completely in charge the whole time. They helped me design my birth plan; supported my choice of a doula; helped me look at myriad potential parent profiles and set up interviews; were there at the hospital; and immediately put me in touch with counselors and support services for post-relinquishment needs.
I cannot say how much of a blessing they have been, and continue to be. I am still in constant contact with my Bethany adoption counselor, and our local offices host regular events to which birth parents are invited. We are often told about new counseling or support services as well.
My heart aches for those who've experienced such terrible things. But I can say our local Bethany offices and staff have been terrific. In the years since my daughter was placed, we couldn't have asked for a more professional and caring adoption agency!
I would not recommend Bethany Christian Services to anyone unless they want a closed adoption. If you are looking for an open adoption, it is best to find another agency.
Would not recommend. Made it very clear I wanted an open adoption and did not get one.
Mislead Mom and others,
I feel for your frustration and hurt, but I'd like to offer a view from the other side. I am an adoptive father of a beautiful little girl. Our daughter's BP were desperate due to her pending due date and we agreed to help them through the delivery by providing food, shelter, medical, transportation, etc. We agreed to have an open adoption and did follow-up on that promise. The issue was our inability to get a good address for them to send pictures...they were transient. We would run into them periodically and ended up having to give them pictures in person because they could not stay at one address long enough. Our in person visits did include our daughter. In our situation, we believe, they used this emotional tie to allow them to contact us earlier this year to help support a second pregnancy. We agreed to keep the siblings together and supported them the exact same way we did previously. Four days before the baby was born an agency move them to a large city in Louisiana and would not allow us to meet with the BP. We believe we were scammed by the BP (and the agency, but that is another story) due to our open relationship, so they could be a "better deal" from the agency. I am in no way suggesting that you would do this to Michael and Jamey, but I thought you might want to hear from someone on the other side. We have chosen to close the adoption with our daughter's BP and will never do another open adoption due to these experiences.
Because of the timing of your post, I suspect that you have been in the AGCI Ethiopia program, as we have for the past 3+ years. Because of our good experience with AGCI with our first adoption, we chose AGCI again for our second adoption effort. While we experienced some of the same facts that you have the past few years, our perspective and conclusions are very different.
AGCI has done its best to communicate good information while screening out unfounded rumors. AGCI sent all families in process periodic written updates and scheduled group conference calls to share information as they knew it. In between updates and calls, we were always able to reach AGCI staff with any questions or concerns that we had. I am not sure how AGCI could have communicated any better than that.
Rules did change as circumstances changed, not randomly but after careful review, consideration and input from families like ours. AGCI has also had a lot of staff changes, some because of personal life circumstances and some because of their efforts to scale back the Ethiopia program so it could remain sustainable. My husband and I often commented that we were thankful that AGCI was willing to act quickly to respond to changing circumstances; staff reductions are difficult for everyone involved but the alternative is failure, which is never in anyone’s best interests.
AGCI’s fees are reasonable and comparable to other agencies, although other agencies’ fees may not be immediately obvious like AGCI’s. AGCI never “promises” a successful adoption; I would be suspect of any agency that does. At every step of the way AGCI emphasized what we should each already understand, that adoption is an uncertain process with a number of variables outside of AGCI’s control and there are no guarantees. What AGCI does promise is “to work ethically and responsibly,” and we have found that to be true time and time again.
International adoption has been in flux for years. Even in our first adoption we saw the timetables change as government agencies took longer to review files, adoption rules changed at regional and national levels, and USCIS changed its review processes. When we began our second adoption, our first blog post discussed the uncertainty and challenges in depth based on everything from state department stakeholder calls to news repots to other blogs and books challenging everything about international adoption. Despite the best efforts of ethical agencies like AGCI, in Ethiopia the process degraded to the point that AGCI and other agencies are now sharing their reluctant conclusion that adoption is no longer a viable option in Ethiopia for most children and most families.
Finally, actions speak louder than words. Even while it continues to work hard to serve vulnerable children in Ethiopia aprt from adoption, AGCI has offered to waive/transfer its entire agency fee for families who decide to pursue adoption through another available program. These are the actions of an agency that cares deeply about children and families.
In closing, I pray for healing for all of the waiting families whose hearts have been broken in their adoption journey. I pray for wisdom for AGCI staff as they help families consider other options. Most of all I pray for Ethiopia and the vulnerable children who are left in the midst of it all. May we each seek to love and support them in other ways.
All God's Children starts off great, but with constant staff changes, terrible communication, randomly changing rules, and "fees" that don't seem legitimate, you will quickly realize you will never see the completion of the adoption you were promised. Our family experienced constantly increased timetables, an absolute lack of communication, and finally the "closing" of the country and program and the loss of all of the money and time invested.
Please do your research, and find another agency. I do not believe that AGCI has children and families best interests at heart.
I can not believe as a family that wanted to adopt an older child and wanted to make a difference to someone that needed us, in return we got put in a horrible situation with a total lack of respect and caring from Bethany Christian Plymouth MN office. We picked them cause I felt we would have Christian experience. Half truths, lack of disclosure and an inability to see us as a family unit with feelings, boundaries and deserving of respect was our experience. Do NOT work with this office. They have their own agenda. The sad thing was they aren't good liars so it was pretty apparent when we caught them not treating us with respect (ex: one social worker would disclose not knowing what the other said, found out from outside agency people - like dr office, etc). I pray that they take my feedback that I provided verbally and try and approach families differently!
Had successful adoption through ASC but I would never use them again or reccomend their services to anyone. All they care about is money - your money! They are not supportive to adoptive parents in any way, they lie and are unethical. Once the adoption is finalized - you will never hear from them again. They change their rates with no notice. They really do nothing once youve been "matched". Its up to you and the birthmom to build the relationship and try to make it work - no advice or help from the agency.
The plus for adpoting in Indiana is that there is a bithmom cap - $3,500
Birthmoms can't milk you for anymore than that - at ASC birthmoms get 1/2 prior to placement and the other 1/2 once they sign the papers making it official.
I recently placed my baby boy through an open adoption. I'm still working through all of the emotions and trying to process the new normal of my life. I worked with Bethany throughout my entire pregnancy. My pregnancy counselor became a friend to me. I never felt pressured to place my son. I always felt in control of every decision that was made and that was stressed to me time and time again- I was in control of choosing his family, how things would happen at the hospital, what the openness would look like, etc. After I had him, I began to second guess my decision and even majorly changed the plan that I had made. Through it all, Bethany was beside me supporting me in whatever decision I made. Since the placement, my pregnancy counselor has been in contact with me multiple times just to check on me and has even met with me to talk. My only complaint would be preparation for what life will be like after a placement has occurred. The entire process focuses on what will happen and how, but not how you will be afterwards. But I can honestly say I felt respected and loved by the Bethany staff.