Process is changing + Wait times are much longer than promised at time of application
As an update to our last review, we have been now waiting for a year since our paperwork was accepted by Ethiopia and this summer were told that rather than the original 6-12 month wait time we were advised when we signed up, it would now be 2-4 years longer, and that post-referral rather than 3-6 months' wait it's up to 18 months. So if you ask for a child of 4, the kiddo could be almost 6 by the time you get to bring him/her home... We have spent $15,000 cash thus far for agency and government fees and related expenses.
One important thing that Sharpie101 said in their Sept 2016 review was that AA doesn't have an online group which is actually not true. Sadly, the agency didn't tell us at the start that they DO have a Facebook group where the country's coordinator (who we had never been met nor ever even been made aware of) posts regularly on how many referrals are going out to families. Yet at the same time, we were reprimanded when we tried to contact her directly and told that we needed to contact Radu, while at other times reprimanded for not including her in email conversations - and this was after she stated in writing that she had our file but then stated incorrect info about the age range we wanted, providing a more narrow age range than we'd actually specified. And along with that, Radu had told us AA at that point in the year had only referred 2 special needs children to families, yet the FB page said NINE kids...and even one parent currently in the process shared with me offline that she had just gotten her referral and her kiddo was NOT special needs. And when I confronted them (not sharing the adoptive parent's name) they tried to claim the parent was probably not telling me the truth because they weren't allowed. We were also chastised for questioning the things that did not match up and while this FB page is the only way to get updates and the coordinator said she had our files, simultaneously we were told that she did not handle cases in AA's home state of Oregon and that Radu did. So why does she even have my information then? BTW I'd asked her multiple times to call me and she ignored all of my emails. So no real relationship building interest by anyone there.
AA also told us - after they'd been paid - that there is no "first come first serve" policy for waiting parents in their program and that they match people with kids based on who they think would be good, which concerns us as how would they determine a *baby* would be a good or bad fit for a particular couple...not to mention we have no idea how long we could be waiting. They said that the fact that we don't have kids already would help out our case, but there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason. So it appears that you'll never know how close you are to getting a kiddo since unlike other agencies, you won't be told where you are on the list since it's a pool rather than a list as it was described to us. None of this was in writing btw.
In addition to this, MOWA staff in Ethiopia appears to have had some significant turnover and leadership changes so this, along with the turmoil/violence in Ethiopia right now, appears to be also making adoption incredibly awful for waiting parents. It's important to remember that you can't get your tax credit until the adoption is finalized and if a program closes (many other agencies have left Ethiopia and some countries won't do adoptions as a whole from there), you also lose all your $$ spent.
We also learned reading other agency websites that the Ethiopian government prefers parents no more than 40 years in age difference from a child in the range we requested - yet I am 42 and my husband is 49 - along with preferring parents be married 5 years and at the time of our application we'd only been married for 1 1/2 years. This is a major concern that they may have taken our money knowing that we did not meet the standard criteria.
Radu and Nicoleta (his wife who works there as well and does the local home studies as she's a social worker (so those who say he's doing this by himself, that's not 100% accurate) also have tried to influence us to go to their new India program, saying we could get a baby within the year but would have to pay fees all over again, as in their words "we've already spent they money to maintain the orphanages". Then 6 months later the AA Facebook page advertises India again and says the maximum age combo is - like Ethiopia - 90. So why did they try to tell us we could get a baby when AA even states this maximum combined age? I'm clueless.
I will agree with Sharpie's overall comment that you don't get direct communication. We have never once received an email from them with an update. We really like Nicoleta but they appear to only have one email address so there's no way to direct something to her and hope she will respond because half the time it's him and even though she's said to contact her, we don't have a direct line to her, who seems to have the finesse that Radu lacks.
While we provide these critiques, we have not given up on AA and hope that we are pleasantly surprised with news. That being said, we are not holding our breath that we won't be senior citizens by the time we get a referral or that the program doesn't close, as multiple countries have pulled out with the great amount of political upheaval, agency fraud out there, and overall massive downshift of international adoptions over the past 5-10 years...something we had no idea about when we started.
Wish us luck.
Thee (3) years and no placement/match or anything.
When I signed up, I googled a lady who had used them. She said she and her husband were able to adopt a baby in 6 months to a year. For me, a lot of my process was held up by the federal government. When I finally got everything completed, I paid the money and never heard anything. I don't think it will happen at this point and UNLIKE other waiting families, Adoption Avenues does not have a group you can talk to about the wait or get support. You basically sit at home with your fingers crossed and then one day you say to yourself: "It's not going to happen!" That is a sad moment and, fortunately, for me, it happened only with the payment of $10K, which is a lot of money, but it is what it is.
Adoption is a BUSINESS. Unless you can pay HIGH FEES with a high volume agency, you are going to end up waiting forever.
This is a small agency and seems to be low volume so, unless you are prepared to wait with no word, you may need to try another agency. Also, you may wait forever and never end up with a child. It has been so long for me that people don't even ask anymore am I still adopting.
So far so good!
We are in the middle of our Ethiopia adoption with Adoption Avenues and it's been a great experience thus far. They are responsive, efficient, and know their stuff. Before working with them we sat down with a family who adopted 3 times with them and gave us the straight up story on international adoption, working with Radu, tips for success and the challenges of the process to prepare for.
Yes, Radu is blunt. So what? I'll take that over someone "selling" to me in this type of scenario. He's been doing this for a LONG time and is one of the few agencies that has lasted for this long with all the changes in adoption laws and regulations. Before we submitted our dossiers/paperwork he let us send him an electronic draft of each so he could review them first, making sure we signed everywhere, didn't miss any details, etc., which we really appreciated. Sure, there are a few items in the paperwork that could be more detailed or refined but overall we feel we are being treated with respect and transparency. His wife Nicolleta, who did our home study, is wonderful and has been a fantastic resource for us as well.
We feel very fortunate to be working with them and can't wait to get our referral for our little girl!
Avoid this "agency" at all costs
As an adoptive mom and adoption professional who has personally dealt with this agency, I can honestly tell you they are unprofessional and just plain awful. Radu is the most rude, arrogant man I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Communicating with him is next to impossible and he is unknowledgeable about the process. If you are considering international adoption, I implore you to do your research and find another agency to work with.
We adopted with AA in the past year. Pros of the agency: quick referrals, no agenda for the "perfect family" (aka large families, single women adopting, or out of birth order is okay). Cons: communication stinks - ask questions and he yells at you, paperwork is sub-par (we had problems clearing embassy as our child's orphan status had "significant areas of concern"). AA will not allow you to hire additional help if your case has complications (ex: immigration attorneys, investigators to confirm paperwork, etc.). They are not a "transparent" agency. I would not adopt with them again.
An Adoptive Parent
Would not Recommend
We would not recommend Adoption Avenues. We have had many problems with our adoption and most of them were because this agency did not want to deal with them. When an issue came up and more paperwork was required or there were issues our case was put aside and not dealt with. This caused our adoption to take about 1 1/2 years longer than it should have. We had to e-mail the embassy and others directly in Ethiopia to get information to move our case along and to fix issues. We were originally supposed to only make one trip to Ethiopia but ended up making 3 trips because of mistakes that were made. For the last trip that was made we were going to use an escort to bring our child. This agency told us that we had to use their escort and pay $1,500 for this escort in addition to all the expenses of the trip (which were going to be more than necessary). When we told them we did not want to use their escort and wanted to use our own escort we were told that we were on our own in Ethiopia and Adoption Avenues would do nothing to help us. We ended up having to make the trip ourselves because of misinformation that we were given about escorting. We had to contact the embassy directly to make arrangements to come and also had to contact people in Ethiopia directly to make all the arrangements ourselves. Thankfully we had done this before so we knew what needed to be done but if we had not done it we may still not have our child. The embassy told us there had been many errors in this case and requests for documents that our agency was not allowed to have. We have become aware of many things that were done wrong and unprofessionally. We also feel that this agency was going to leave us without help in order to get more money out of us. This adoption has already cost us about $40,000 and the agency wanted more from us. We feel that all the decisions that are made are financially motivated and not necessarily in the best interests of the children or families.
We had such a great experience with Adoption Avenues. Radu is a man of few words however, he gets the job done. I would recommend this agency to anyone looking to adopt.
Awesome so far...
I am sad to see the negative feedback on Radu... I have had such a great experience with him and this agency so far. There are times when he is difficult to understand, but I do not fault him for that. With this agency you can get immediate feedback on questions, know who you will talk to when you call, and know that they are on your side! If you need someone to hold your hand through the process than you may want to look elsewhere, but if you feel confident that you can follow straightforward directions with a little support here and there, then this agency is for you!!! I love knowing that I will get immediate feedback and can call anytime and talk to Radu on the phone. I highly recomend this agency!
We were at another agency and changed. Radu reviewed our materials at no charge before we filled out the application. I have yet to wait more than a few hours for a response from him. I feel very comfortable with Radu and feel like I am in very good hands. Everything is very straightforward. I am very happy.
Our experience has been good with Adoption Avenues in the Ethiopia program. Our wait for a referral for a baby boy was very short. I have been in contact with Radu often and he has initiated the contact. I agree that with Kerith that AA might not be the best agency for someone that needs a lot of assistance with each step - that said - the information I received was enough for me to carry out what needed to be done along the way. I think that a lot of agencies are working through the changing requirements but they have a "PR" person to 'handle' the phone calls from concerned Paps. With AA, you deal directly with Radu and he is very straightforward. He is also very available in my experience.