Around the world, sitting in orphanages (and sometimes foster homes or other facilities) are children who, it seems, nobody wants. Here in the U.S are a growing number of families who have come forward to say, "We do. We want that child! This is not scary to us. These are just children, not diseases and disorders to be feared. We will go get them!"
These families have answered the call and moved forward. They have taken on the monumental task of addressing mountains of paperwork, answering a zillion personal questions, and spending tens of thousands of dollars to do whatever they must to bring these children home. God said, "Go!" and they have.
How have they found these children? Often by seeing their picture posted on adoption photo listing websites, or from other families who have met them on their own trips to the other side of the world to bring a child home. Once learning of a child, they must inquire where the child is from in order to determine if they are eligible to adopt from that particular country, and what the country's requirements are.
And that is where a problem can arise. Recently families, mine included, have had questions or reservations about working with certain organizations, but have seen a child listed with them who they are interested in. One organization claims to want to see these children get into homes. Nothing more. Yet when families have contacted them for information about a specific child, they cannot get it without paying a fee...a commitment fee to work directly with that organization. A $250 "Hope Trust" donation, along with a $1,000 "Promise Trust" (some of which goes into the child's grant fund which you get back when you complete your adoption.) must be sent before getting any information on the child you're interested in, other than the country where the child is located. This is *slighty* understandable. They have an expensive website to maintain, and staff to pay, and they are overseeing the donated funds for hundreds of children. But, it does not make sense to have to pay nearly $1300 per child to get the information on the child so that you can use an agency of your choice, or do an independent adoption if the country allows it.
Recently the process has changed a bit, and you must have completed your homestudy, and be nearly ready to submit your dossier before getting specific information about the child. By this time you are locked in with the facilitation team of the organizaton's choice. Your ability to make choices for yourself has just been removed from you. I can tell you from experience, you NEED to be able to make choices!
Any time an organization tells you, "You must use adoption agency "x" to adopt this child." You need to start asking a lot of questions. Check into the organization's Conflict of Interest policy, and check into whether or not there are issues in this area. (for example, are board members of the non-profit also employees of the adoption agency you're required to use?)
A friend of mine recently said, "These adoption facilitators don't make much money." I beg to differ! I'm sure there are some who do not, but they're also charging significantly less than other facilitators. The facilitator we worked with in Serbia made a pittance at her job as pediatrician in the orphanage she worked in, yet drove a car much better nicer than the average car in the country. Yet for the 10 or so adoptions to U.S. families she did in 2010, she was paid nearly $50,000. Transportation and translation fees came out of that, along with bribes I'm sure. Even if she only had $30K left after that, it's still what was earned from U.S adoptions, and there are at least two other countries who's adoptions she handled. (Knowing how much time each adoption takes, makes me wonder how she had time to work her state job as doctor of that orphanage!)
Serbia costs significantly less to adopt from than, say...Ukraine. (It currently costs $13,000 to adopt from Serbia, and most of that money is spent on the U.S. side of the process.) According to the Department of State's website, In 2010 there were were 450 adoptions from Ukraine to U.S. families. Most of the families I know paid somewhere around $11,000 to their facilitator. That is $4.9 million dollars, just from U.S. families. If one organization finds homes for 310 children, and the facilitation fee's from various countries are averaged to $10,000, that is $3.1 million dollars JUST in facilitation fees...paid directly to the facilitator in country....IN CASH....with NO RECEIPTS! There is only ONE reason to pay in cash and not get a receipt.
If you choose to adopt internationally, you MUST ask lots of questions. If you are working with a U.S. based non-profit organization, you need to look closely at their numbers. Their tax forms are public information and should be FREE of charge (although it's ok to charge reasonable fees for copies and mailing.) You should also request to see copies of their outside audit (a requirement for non-profits) along with their financial statement. You should also ask to see their Conflict of Interest statement. (which should be included on their tax forms.)
Just this week, the Department of State issued a warning for those attempting to adopt from Haiti. I expect before too long there will be similar warnings issued for other countries as many things come to light.
I am NOT against international adoption. We have done it once, and will do it again. We have plans to do it again, and the necessary paperwork is already completed and submitted. What I AM against is people doing what I did. Jumping in head first without really looking at all that is involved, really looking closely before working with ANY organization. Just because I found a couple "positive feedback" posts in various places means nothing. It's pretty rare that there is never a problem, and I should have checked to see what those problems were.