Bethany Christian ServicesHot
CROOKED AGENCY--BUYER BEWARE
The experience with Bethany was nothing short of awful. The staff was disrespectful and blatantly dishonest. When we asked questions about the child who was ultimately placed in our home, rather than find out the answers, they simply guessed! They were judgmental, condescending, unethical, and lied whenever they got backed into a corner. They then justified these lies by saying that they were being "Christian" in advocating for the child by putting undue pressure on us in the form of threats and lies. For example, stating that one of us HAD to be a stay at home parent (despite having been upfront that this would not be possible). The last straw was when they violated our rights under HIPAA. Working with Bethany was awful. Would-be adoptive parents are STRONGLY advised to steer clear.
My experience with Bethany as a birthmother has been awful.
I've been dealing with one of their South Carolina offices for the last three months and things have gone excessively downhill. At first I thought it may be that my beliefs don't exactly allign with those of Bethany but after reading other reviews and talking to those whom came to a couple meetings with me what I felt was not me being hypersensitive.
Besides what is highlighted below BCS was very condescending towards me from the beginning when they called me and this baby low risk because I do not have any previous drug or aocohol issues. The ignorance and condescending tone continued and worsened with each visit to Bethany. I eventually decided to parent as I could not let a organization that calls themselves Christian to take my baby and possible place ith with a family that only wants him because of his black father.
1 - Lies/conflicting information: Upon my first encounter with a pregnancy counselor with BCS I was informed that most families are now looking for extremely open adoption relationships and if this is what I wanted(very much so was) that it is possible. When it came to the point of reviewing families that had expressed interest in adopting my baby the “Openness Survey” they adoptive families had completed when they first started working with BCS mostly indicated they were not interested in open adoption, that they weren’t willing to share contact info, have visits in/outside their home and share letters/pictures beyond the 2 years BCS requires.
I was told I could write a letter to prospective families – this sort of made sense to me but also didn’t. I was told over the phone by BCS that I should write a letter telling families about my life and what I see for this baby. I was more or less selling myself. In later meetings when I asked about this letter again I was given weird looks as if I had made it up. Perhaps I was given wrong information as this seems to be what they write up in their recruitment emails to their families when there’s a baby to be placed.
Adoptive families that work with BCS create these glossy picture books via Shutterfly. At my first meeting with BCS I was instructed that I could take some books home with me to review interested families. When it came time to review and select a family I was locked away for hours in a conference room and not allowed ot leave the building with any of these books. I can understand the reasoning that they might have an emergency placement and a birthmother may need to review some however I was looking to just take the 1 or 2 of the families I was highly interested in. I was never given any sort of reason as to why I couldn’t leave with a book. A week later when I returned to BCS they did not have the books I wanted to review – surprisingly because another birthmother had taken them home.
2: Openness Survey: in an effort to understand what adoptive families are willing ot handle and what they are looking for BCS has them complete a survey with an 1-5 disagree/agree scale. I was amazed at the amount of families that were not overly willing to adopt a baby with medical needs and congenital defects. Some families gave higher scores for history of drug and alcohol use by the mother than they did for medical needs. A BCS employee had yelled at me for removing these surveys from a binder I was given, 1 for the act itself and 2 because the families I was given were all willing to take care of my baby – whom might have some medical needs. This I disagree with, because if they originally weren’t wiling but now they somewhat are I would have questions as to why and how they are planning on handling it beyond prayer.
The pregnancy counselor with BCS made many assumptions about my life that weren’t true. After filing out a very invasive form about my social and medical history she had more questions. She twisted facts to make my life sound awful – it’s not. She took a situation from my childhood of someone not wanting to discipline their kid and turned it into a situation of abuse by my parents. She twisted a friendship of someone in my support group that we were in a lesbian relationship together. She was also extremely rude towards another person in my support group when he started asking questions about the adoptive families with BCS and why there are not any gay or non-white couples but single applicants were ok.
When this counselor found out my baby was biracial she offensively made me aware that “colored” babies now get placed faster than their white counterparts. This made it sound as if they were trophy babies.
When I finally told BCS I would no longer need their services they asked i return any books I had - those same books they wouldn't let me leave with. when i advise this then they wanted to call me. i repeatedly advised them that I could take a call after my normal working hours. this didn't seem to be understood. They then asked what i was doing for lunch on weekdays, i assumed htis was so they could have a quick call with me - no, they wanted to make a visit to my job and have lunch so they could talk in person. I work in a secured facility for starters and I have kept this adoption decision to myself. there is no need for BCS to come to my emploer. finally after several question i had agreed ot just go to the BCS office - taking more time away from my job for a organization i thought i was finished with. Upon arrival it was clear that BCS was going to try and convince me to stay wiht them and to still place with the family i had selected. once i explained what my reasons were and that my decisision was more based on the treatment by BCS and not those with the adoptive families the ton of BCS changed. they were now trying ot blame all the issues - and some - that i've highlighted on myself. eventually the BCS employee sort of admitted to her extreme communication issues. i hope htis will help adoptive families and especially birth mothers in the future.
Beware alternative motives
We have been working with Bethany Christian Services in Elkins Park Pennsylvania. They like many agencies and slow and understaffed. We attended the classes, did all the paperwork. Then I had to call and leave messages over and over to get the home study done. After the home study they told me that people who drive the process, like I did usually want to give the kids the adopt up. They also said that they don't trust that I will listen to them and not contact other caseworkers. I thought that was strange okay so great they don't trust me, you know what I don't trust them. It felt like there was an agenda there. I lost faith in their ability to do what's right. Maybe because I am older and more experienced in life in general, jaded perhaps, but I just got a bad sense from them. We have elected after going through months of this to go with another agency. It's for foster adoption of an older child.
Loved my social worker
We had a great social worker that was caring, loved us, and helped us along the way. There is a lot of information to learn and they helped sort through the choices that we had. I know that Bethany is a national service and each location is managed separately. I know that others have not had the same experience that we have. We were loved and helped along the way. It was a long process, almost 3 years, but we were surprised with a stork drop type situation. It was wonderful. :)
I have been working with BCS for more than a year on an international adoption matter and my experience has been poor. Overall, I feel like there is a disregard to regulations and policies and the organization seems to pick and choose which they will follow of course in their favor. Next there is a lack of transparency and, based on the costs of services, I don't understand why providing an itemized explanation of costs is so difficult especially if they are required to do so by Hague regulations. There seems to be an air of disrespect for the families, no real commitment to the best interest of the child and deep rooted organizational deficiencies. To be quite honest I know this is an organization with deep pockets so I know that my complaining will probably fall on deaf ears. If you use them, be vigilant and assertive and hold them to task. Don't let them employ scared tactics or play on your emotions.
Not very polite or personal. They were rather rude when we called them when we were searching for an agency. We chose someone else
When we started looking for an adoption agency, we called Bethany Christian Services because we are Christians and we thought it would be nice to work with a Christian agency.... Bethany was disrespectful and discouraging to say the least. The lady I spoke to, was condescending; asking if I was sure it was Gods will for us to adopt and saying she doesn't think we're the kind of family "their" expectant mothers are looking for! Needless to say, we knew right away they were not the right fit for us! We quickly found another agency who has been WONDERFUL!! Our home study was completed quickly and our profile has been shown quite a bit in the few months that we've been waiting. We're hopeful that we'll be chosen eventually. But that's not the end of the story- after we started our home study with the other agency, Bethany started harassing us with constant emails, wanting us to sign up for an orientation session with them! And worse yet, asking for donations. I'm glad some people like them but I'm not particularly impressed
I guess the old saying is true, you get what you pay for. We went with Bethany Christian Services because of their affordability and what we thought was an emphasis on Christian values. Honestly, the values part was not a deciding factor for us but we thought there might be more care and compassion using a Christian service provider. I have to say the entire experience has been incredibly disappointing. Three years and four failed adoptions later, all we have to show for our efforts is a half empty bank account. Money we will never see again. But while that's frustrating, that's not upsetting. What's upsetting is having a completely absent agency representative that only calls to tell you that you will be not be receiving the most recently matched baby as they just saw the birthmother's picture on Facebook with the baby. Her next suggestion was that we look at other "family plans". I get why she suggested that b/c it looks bad on her books to have a couple that has waited close to 3 and 1/2 years, but it still came across as incredibly callous and not encouraging. If I had to do it all over again I would have waited another year and saved the money necessary to go with a better agency.
Bethany is AWFUL
We worked with Bethany in Georgia for 18 months for Foster adoption. It took them A YEAR to complete our home study. Then that adoption worker just left. We were then in limbo for 3 months bounced from one worker to another. Then they hired someone to take the previous worker's place & of course she didn't know us so obviously was not vested in us. Then she got pregnant & went on maternity leave. The whole experience was horrible. What an utter disappointment & such a frustrating experience. The adoption workers don't care about the families. It's no wonder there are so many children in foster care in this country. The system is in such disarray & the children are the victims. We have decided now to adopt international. For anyone considering adoption DO NOT CHOOSE THIS AGENCY. It will be the worst decision you will make.
Bethany Christian Services
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.
Birth Mothers are loved at our Bethany!!!
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!
So much for an Open Adoption
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.
You don't get what you ask for
Would not recommend. Made it very clear I wanted an open adoption and did not get one.
Disrespected by Christians - their new slogan
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!
Recent birthmother experience
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.