To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Picking an Agency - Check!

Well, tonight was parent training class #2; and really this was the most exciting to us, because this class was specifically focused on adoption from Ethiopia!  Hooray!

The information was really relevant, and the hostesses were more than willing to give their 1st-hand experience with adoption through Ethiopia, their travel experiences with the country and people, and the process of bringing home an Ethiopian child (everything! the good, bad, and ugly parts too! which was great!).

For us, it really solidified the fact that we want to continue not just with our Ethiopian adoption; but also with International Adoption Network as our agency.  This is something we've been struggling with for a while, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that tonight made it clear to us which direction to go! :)

I know for me, that it's always interesting how and why a couple chooses the agency they do; so, I thought I'd take some time to clarify why we are sticking with IAN, as well as some of the other options we looked into.

As many of you may or may not know, hubby and I first looked into China (as so many couples do!) for our adoption.  The quintessential Chinese adoption agency is based out of Texas and is called Great Wall China Adoption (GWCA).  Their founder, Snow Wu, is known all over the world for her efforts in child advocacy.  She has worked tirelessly for the benefit of children in several countries (not just China); working for health care, education, and so much more.

GWCA is HUGE.  It is respected world-wide, and has been a part of bringing literally tens of thousands of girls and boys to their forever homes in America and elsewhere.  They seemed to us a most obvious choice for an agency.  And honestly, had we kept our LID for China, we most likely we would have stayed with GWCA as our agency.

There are so many, many benefits to a large agency, that I really don't even have time to get into them all; but for us, we were drawn to IAN for the opposite reason - it is small.  We liked that the workers know every family by name (and the children too!).  We enjoy the fact that we are able to call them whenever we feel necessary and are given direct lines to their offices and cell phones.  We like that they have strong ties to Ethiopia, and that their facilitators and workers have been in the program as long as it's been open - lots of experience means things go smoothly on both sides!

Overall, we are just so very pleased with our experiences with IAN; and we've only just begun!  So, I can excitedly say that they're officially "the one" for us!

Now, this isn't to say that we only looked at two agencies and suddenly VOILA!  We had an agency!  Not at all!  There are so many things that we looked at when considering agencies.  Some of our concerns included the following (in no particular order):

1. Hague Accredidation - this is an international system set up to protect children from being mistreated or abused during the adoption process; this is necessary for international adoption; so, if the agency doesn't have this, it's pretty much a done-deal anyway

2. Years of Experience - we wanted to work with an agency that had been established in a country and knew the ins-and-outs of the adoption process legally, socially, and diplomatically

3. A Good Record - I scoured the Internet for first-hand experiences (blogs, chat rooms, forums, etc.) from parents who had used each of the agencies we were considering, if they had a good or bad experience, I would ask why and whether they would recommend their final agency or not, they had TONS of great information that I am so grateful to have heard

4. A Fair Service to Fee Ratio - by this I mean that I would hope that the agency's own "service fee" (which is different from the other legal and country fees attached to an international adoption) would be fair and on base with the services they are alledging to provide us as adoptive parents

5. An Informative and Helpful Staff - were our e-mails and phone calls returned in a timely fashion?  were the staff members personable and kind?  were we given the time and energy we needed to feel safe and secure in our actions during the process (within good reason)?

These are just a few of the criteria we considered before making our decision, but each couples' needs and requirements are different.  So, obviously, while these were important to us, other couples may have had much more unique circumstances and needs than us.  Everyone is different; which is why having so many options is ideal!  Ask lots of questions (there is NEVER a stupid question when it comes to your future child and your adoption process!), search around, take your time, and think and pray about your decision.  It will all come together in the end!

Here are some other agencies we looked at (including IAN), in case you are needing some starting points yourself.  I know I found it really helpful when other moms and dads would share this information; so, maybe it will be helpful to you or someone you know!

1. International Adoption Network (IAN):

2. Great Wall China Adoption (GWCA):

3. Children of All Nations (CAN - CWCA's sister agency):

4. Holt International Agency:

5. The Spence-Chapin Agency:

All of these agencies have so many good things to offer.  I encourage you, if you're interested in international adoption of any kind, to check them out (and others as well)!

I'll leave you tonight with a picture of some precious Ethiopian children who recently put on a special presentation for some Americans traveling to pick up their adopted children in Addis Ababa.  Their energy and genuine love of performance burst through the image and leave me smiling.  I hope they brighten your day as they brighten mine!

Blessings and More Blessings,

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