View Full Version : Agency ethics

09-19-2004, 06:05 PM
I'm posting this here in hope of getting some advice. My DH and I are looking into adopting from Africa, specifically Ethiopia. Unlike other countries, Ukraine, China, etc., there are only 4 agencies in the USA allowed to do adoptions from Ethiopia. I was looking at two agencies I seemed to like and posted to an African Adoption list soliciting imput, including in private email. I had ruled out one agency because I was completely turned off by the tone and information on their web site. I got a few replies to my post, but a couple were asking me if I had considered this agency I had already ruled out. One actually said he was contacted by the head of the agency to contact me.

All the emails in favor of this agency freely admit they don't do a lot of hand holding, their communication is sometimes not good, and basically said but they do it all for the children. I also feel like I'm a bad person for wanting the most helpful people for the process and considering what is best for my family and me, and not just how to adopt these children in need. (One email was encouraging me to adopt children older than my son, although I said I didn't want to do that.)

I think the one concrete thing I can say about this agency is they actively discourage you from travelling to meet your child, while the other two agencies encourage it. Some of this might me the agency in question also operates in other African countries that aren't as safe as Ethiopia. But there is such a disconnect between one agency telling me how dangerous it is to travel including hints on postures of soldiers, while the other agencies are comparing the merits of the different brunches at the hotels available in Addis Adiba.

So how do I handle this? Do I just ignore the emails from people touting this agency I've already decided against? I've been in touch with the other two agencies and have had wonderful, positive dealings with them, so I see no reason to go elsewhere. Should I thank them for their suggestions and just leave it at that? I've got to imagine the African Adoption community is not large, so I don't want to alienate anyone. Mostly, I sort of resent having to think about this now.

Mom to Harvey

09-19-2004, 09:42 PM
I don't have any experience with adoption agencies but I say you need to do what YOU are comfortable with and do what you think is best for your family. I would just thank the people emailing you for their suggestions and leave it at that. You do not owe anyone anything in deciding on what agency to use. As long as you are not hearing anything negative about the other 2 agencies I would say go with one of them if you feel they are a better fit for what you want.

mom to Jacob 9/27/02

09-19-2004, 09:50 PM
I have to stress I know ZERO/ZILTCH about anyother country than Ukraine so my advice is not the answer to your question. HOWEVER if similiar to my experience and what I witness with the Ukraine community there are agencies that lurk those boards looking for folks "newbies" to market. I can't say I blame them but an email from someone is not necessarily (FROM MY EXPERIENCE) true recommendation from a client. I also advice you to see if you can call and talk to folks who have adopted from the agencies...have questions so that you know they are "legit" and not agency employees.
I almost emailed you this priveatly but didn't want to take the chance it didn't get thru to you...but some Ukraine agencies are corrupt enough to pretend they are clients (I've seen it first hand), so I am just giving you something to think about when you get responses.
I know this is not what you asked for but just wanted to share some things I have noticed. Try to find a mentor...I am going to post on my NC group and see if there are any adoptions tht have taken place from Africa for you as well...if that is OK.
Some of the Yahoo groups are a good source in that you need to be approved to join, thus more of a gatekeeper to agencies lurking and portraying themselves as clients to get business.
There are many fantastic agencies I just wanted to give you something to think about...try to chat with folks and really get a feel from them...

Neve and Tristan born Feb 25, 2003
* EDD 3/19/05 IT'S A GIRL
* Adopting siblings in Ukraine 1/05


09-19-2004, 10:14 PM
You definitely have to be comfortable with your agency....they need to give you as much education, support, hand-holding, whatever as you feel that you need. Even though I have only done a domestic adoption, I would try and talk to people who have used the agency that you are leaning towards....sometimes what they say and what they do can be two very different things. I can only suggest that you go to the groups at www.adoption.com - they have special forums under international adoption that gets broken down into separate countries for adoption (just looked - they have an active forum on Ethiopian adoptions). Maybe you can get some real-life feedback on the agencies that you are interested in. Also, I'm not sure what the site is, but there is a government website that lists the travel restictions/warnings for US travelers into different countries (it will tell you if you need to take extra precautions or if it is just not safe).
~Connor's Mom~
http://lilypie.com/baby1/050204/1/0/1/-6/.png (http://lilypie.com)

09-19-2004, 10:54 PM
It is also possible to to adoption for the children AND handhold your clients (i.e. the parents). A good experience with the agency is how you get referrals and therefore, help more children. Duh!

09-19-2004, 11:58 PM
If you feel like thanking them go ahead but if you don't then don't. The community for international adoptions from Africa might not be large but if people feel alienated because you don't pick the same agency they do, then in the end something else you do would just as easily tick them off. What I mean is that each of us has the right to based our decisions on what is right for our family and no one else can tell you that an agency is right or wrong for you.

Wanting hand holding in the process does not make you a bad person. Adoption, international adoption sometimes more so (because there is less known about a child's background in many cases) involve some big leaps of faith. It's very important that you pick a situation within your comfort level (or as close to possible). The truth is by thinking seriously about what is the right fit for your family (agency wise) you ARE thinking about the needs of your future child. Yes there are needy children in the world, but there are needy children every where and of every age. Making decisions that eliminate certain groups of children (by age or gender or country :) ) doesn't mean that you aren't thinking about the needs of children, it means you are caring enough to take into account the needs of your current family and the needs of a future child so that there is a balance. Because in the end adoption is about parenting that child who comes into your home not about how many children are out there who are older or younger or in other situations.

09-20-2004, 12:34 AM
I totally agree with the other posters, plus, I think it's great that you are aware enough of what you need to know that you are looking for good communication, hand holding, etc. If you know that that is something that is important to you, then you shouldn't compromise by doing anything other than what feels right. Because you'll never feel completely comfortable without doing what is right by your own self.

If you've already ruled out an agency, you had a valid reason. There's no reason to second guess yourself because of someone else's words. Even if it's all on the up and up, what is good for one person isn't always good for another. Do what feels right for you.

If you feel that people were generally trying to give helpful advice, thanking them for their suggestion and leaving it at that sounds like a good compromise.

Good luck in your journey.


09-21-2004, 02:11 PM
Thanks for everyone's good advice. I decided to send a simple thank you message to the people who emailed me on their own, and I didn't do anything for the person who was "recruited" to email me. The agency in question is reputable, but I definately understand Neve's warning. I just feel the two I already have contact with have been very supportive and understanding so far about the preferences I have for my family i.e.-not wanting to adopt anyone older than my son. I just want to feel like the agency will be there when I need them with support. I don't need a "best buddy", but I do want someone that helps me through the process and returns my phone calls.

Mom to Harvey

11-04-2004, 05:26 PM
but also wanted to put it here so it is archived and researchable :)
this is from a contact in a yahoo group that I am in that is about "blended families" of bio children and adopted...

When she mentioned her son was from Africa I emailed her remembering your post and of course with you in mind...

Here is her email to me...
you might know this but maybe having her as a contact might be nice....

> I'd be happy to talk with your friend. I've researched African adoptions
> extensively and can share several resources with her, as well as answer
> questions.
> Currently, the most established and best program in Africa is Ethiopia.
> There are 4 agencies that are registered with the Ethiopian government to
> place children for US adoptions, and all 4 are safe and trustworthy
> agencies. They are
> Americans for African Adoptions www.africanadoptions.org
> Adoption Advocates International www.aai.org
> Wide Horizons for Children www.whfc.org
> Children's Home Society and Family Services www.chsfs.org
> Any other agency saying they can place children from Ethiopia should be
> avoided at ALL costs. Independent adoptions are legal in Ethiopia but only
> if they are truly independent. I know of at least 2 agencies who are using
> that loophole to place children without the consent of the Ethiopian
> government. An adoption agency MUST be registered.
> The only other country currently placing well is Liberia. There are a few
> agencies working there but the only one I can recommend is Americans for
> African Adoptions (same as Ethiopia).
> Technically, Sierra Leone is open, which is where we adopted our son. But,
> no cases have been processed in about 8-9 months and none will be in the
> forseeable future. There are on-going child trafficking investigations
> going on which are affecting ALL adoptions out of Sierra Leone, and there
> are rumors that adoptions may stop permenantly there. In 6 months, this may
> no longer be the case. But, if you friend is looking to adopt now, then
> Sierra Leone is not the program to consider at all.
> There are mixed reports on whether South Africa is truly open for US
> adoptions or not. I've heard both that it is and is not. I can tell you
> that only black and colored (their word for bi-racial) babies most likely
> with HIV+ mothers are elgible for international adoption. Their white
> infant programs are pretty much in the same shape as those in the US and
> South Africans are adopting internationally if they want white babies,
> mostly from Russia.
> Now, you can do independent adoptions out of Uganda, Kenya (requires you
> live in-country for 3 months), Zambia and possibly Burkina Faso, DRC and a
> few others. This would mostly take either a missionary or an orphanage
> contact in the country and a great deal of dedication and patience. Down
> the road, Holt may actually get a program going in Uganda. They are there
> and they are working on it. But, so far they are NOT able to place children
> for adoption out of Uganda.
> Hands down, the best resource I can share for your friend is
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/adoptafrica/
> I'd be happy to help further in any way I can.
> Johanna
> __________________________________________________ _______________