Adoption by Shepherd Care
We sadly had a failed match with ASC in Altamonte Springs, but want to provide an honest take on what our experience with the agency was like. We were an out-of-state client of theirs. From the first phone call, it was obvious this agency's priority is the birth mother, which is inherently a good thing. However, the adoptive parents are not their priority during the match process. All the case worker talked about in that first phone call was the birth mothers, which was great, but she hardly asked us any questions. It made us feel like we were a tiny part of the equation. That said, I was willing to overlook it as we were in a national program working with multiple agencies and this was just one of them. We did end up with a fantastic match through them. Everything was absolutely perfect until the end when the emom stopped all communication, which I don't fault the agency for.
Here are my takeaways.
*Very available for birth moms and seemingly supportive to them
*Generally responsive if you follow up
*Quick match process in our case (I feel like they have a good network)
*Easy to talk to/friendly
*Communication with us as adoptive parents was minimal. We were led to believe that they'd keep us up to date as we got towards the end of the pregnancy, but only reached out once in the entire last 3 months. The other times we had to reach out repeatedly asking for updates. This would have driven us INSANE had we not had direct contact with our emom daily via text.
*Ben, their financial guy, is HORRIFICALLY slow and unresponsive without major prodding. They're supposed to send monthly invoices to check your escrow account, but they only did that when we asked for updates. It's critical that you do this so you don't get any surprises at placement (see next point)
*I have a friend who adopted from ASC who was charged $8000 for a van for their emom/family. She wasn't notified of this unexpected expense until placement, when they asked her to write the big check. She was shocked it was that much more and had to scramble to come up with the extra 8 grand. In our case, there were a few fairly minor nonexpected expenses that came and the only way we found out was because we asked for an update. This could have added up to thousands if we didn't keep tabs on it. NO ONE likes surprises. You'd think they'd be better about communicating any deviation from their estimate to the paps.
*EXPENSIVE. There is no limit to what the expenses could be for the birth mother and you're at risk. There's no secret there. You are made well aware of this. However, I think the agency 100% encourages the emoms to use as much as they want/need rather than helping them find other resources. They do help get moms on Medicaid, which is good. It would make so much sense to cap expenses at some point, but it is what it is. They're taking full advantage of what the Florida law willl allow and may twist certain unusual expenses to make it seem like the emom required it (like the van in my last example). Our emom had a higher clothing allowance than we ever have spent on ourselves! Also her rent was nearly as much as our mortgage. Expect to pay around $38 - $45k for a typical infant adoption with these people.
I'm not 100% satisfied with the agency, but they did make an amazing connection for us even though it didn't work out. We have a few couples we know that really liked the agency and others that expressed the same concerns I just listed. I can't speak to the placement process as we didn't place.