Don't ruin it for everyone: What does it mean when an agency closes in Ethiopia?

Our first adoption agency is closing in the next few months. It has been officially announced.  And like my blog graphic above indicates, I am once again up at 1am, trying to put words to page to talk about what this means to me, and what it means for Ethiopian adoption. Laundry, sleep, or a good ol' fashion extended metaphor? I am sure you know what I am choosing...

UPDATE**  In some ways, this post has been officially made null and void. It appears another agency has stepped in to save Dove, and because they are not authorized to work in Ethiopia, they will "umbrella" under an agency that does still work in Ethiopia, who will partner with them and let them use their accreditation. The agency is called Lifeline Adoptions, and they are known for trafficking children in China and Uganda, so let's just all be clear: this is so so sad for Ethiopian families that BOTH these agencies get to work in Ethiopia still.

It's faulty, I grant you, but I can't help but compare using an agency who is not allowed to work in country using a doctor who has practiced medicine in the past, but lost his license. Would you ever feel comfortable with this: "I am gonna go to a doctor who does not have a medical license, but he has a friend with a valid license to practice, and his friend says 'I will let you see your patients here. Bring them to our office, give us some of the money they pay you, and we will let you practice medicine with our protection.'"  Does that sound like a good scenario? Does it really matter why he lost his license? Was it because he hurt someone? Does it matter to you if he only hurt one person? What if it were a few? More than ten? Are the people he hurt crazy because they really really want others to avoid the same fate? How about this, would you want to use him? Who is responsible when or if things go wrong? (Hint: when talking about adoption in the umbrella scenario, the answer is no one).

The US allows this agency partnering and "umbrella" thing, and so does Ethiopia, I want to be clear that it is not illegal. It happens all the time to allow unaccredited or unlicensed agencies to get clients who want to adopt from this country but they don't have the ability to establish themselves in country. But in my long long ethics post, I talk about why I think this is not okay. 

So I am not taking this post down.  I know folks have already discussed this blog and my name and talked about banning me from forums so I cannot bring my "crazy." What I find sad and ironic is they are playing out the exact scenario I describe about in this post: a group of people who do not want to hear the truth because it didn't happen to them. So, if you're here for the first time, join me on an exploration of an agency, ethics, and the adoption community which does not always feel comfortable with people who question things.

Imagine you are planning your dream wedding at a hotel in another country, that looks good on the internet. This hotel is going to facilitate the entire shebang. They even have ordained staff that can seal the deal for you. You find other couples who also are getting married or going on anniversary trips to this hotel so you join an online group of people counting down until their respective big days. You read a lot of good reviews, a few bad. Most of you on there haven't been to the hotel though, so you are giddy and nervous together. Sometimes you wonder if you should heed the bad reviews. There are few people who keep showing up on the forums trashing the hotel.

They weigh in on conversations uninvited, just to tell once again, their miserable wedding story. They are relentless, they make everyone uncomfortable. Weddings are supposed to be about creating a family and happiness. They are stressful to plan, and the folks who chime in with their botched weddings make it more stressful. You read one scathing review all the way through. There is a claim that not only did the service stink at this hotel, they ruined the wedding. They lied, they tried to cover up their mistakes, they pretended they didn't have reservations or our paperwork. They took money, they deceived, and people were hurt. They claim the hotel will not be held accountable. There is no recourse.

Well, this is awfully disturbing. You think maybe you should find a different hotel. But there are a bunch of other reviews that claim, We didn't have any of those problems. So then you tell yourself, there are always people who are impossible to please, which is true. You call up the hotel, you ask some questions, and they are really nice. Your fears subside, and you press forward, signing contracts, paying, planning, brimming with joy, forgetting about the bad reviews, which always seem to come from the same people anyway. You save, you dream, your whole family gets involved, friends are excited. You bought the plane tickets, there is is no turning back.

And then, it happens to you. They do scam you. Your wedding was a nightmare. You barely survive it, you don't know if you'll ever see a dime back. You are not even sure if your marriage is legal or legitimate. You cannot believe you were a victim. And in the process you saw how some hotel employees were hurting others in their community with their business practices. You remember the bad reviews and how easily you and everyone else dismissed them.  You wanted proof, more than allegations, and now you are living it. And you think I have to tell people. This hotel lies. They take money. Maybe not to everyone, but the risk hurts people. It has broken up families, broken hearts, broken savings accounts. 

And yet you don't want to relive it. Just let it go, move on.. Don't be bitter. But then your inbox starts filling up with emails from that forum you were on before the wedding. You are still a member of this community of now-married couples and loads more happy, unknowing wedding planners. Many of them want to go to that same hotel. And now you know you must say something. But you remember how it felt before you knew. You are nervous about backlash, criticism but still, you type up something short but adamant

Please stay away. They lied to us, took our money. They are a shady organization. We are still picking up the pieces. Please don't use them.

Comments fly on the forum of wedding planners.
Joy kill.
Where is your proof?

The hotel sends out a disclaimer about how 'Some guests didn't follow procedures correctly and the hotel was unable to provide the service they would have liked,' they cover their butts and make it seem like if anyone had a bad experience, it is their own fault.

A few people from the forum privately email you to tell you that if you file complaints against this hotel, weddings in that hotel may stop and that will ruin the plans of all these couples who want to go there. They've already paid, and if the hotel closes, it's over for them. You are jeopardizing other people's happiness because you are being negative.

The people who once supported you, held your hand through a stressful process have turned their backs. They don't want to hear your story. Our wedding was just fine, get over it. Or, Ours won't be like that. There are way more good experiences than bad, so it's not OK to say that the hotel is all bad just because YOU had a bad experience. 

I am going to pull the plug on this long metaphor which of course, is about adoption agencies working in Ethiopia. I've been thinking quite a bit about adoption agencies, ethics, what makes for "good experiences" and "bad experiences" and "good agencies" and "bad agencies." The agency we used for our first adoption, finalized in 2010, Dove Adoptions, will be closing its doors sometime in the next six months or so.

I am relieved. Though I didn't know it at the time of our adoption, this agency has both turned a blind eye and participated in lies, deceit, corruption and human trafficking for years. I feel ashamed that I unknowingly was apart of it. And as soon as I found out, I've been trying to talk the talk and walk the walk in regard to ethics ever since. 

My experience with Dove was peachy. They were open, kind, caring, warm, clear, supportive. All the things one thinks one needs when researching an agency. The NGO (not Dove) who ran the orphanage from whence their children were referred did humanitarian work, seemed to really care about Ethiopia, other good check marks in my mind. But Dove has worked for years with this NGO organization in Ethiopia that has employees who I believe "find" babies for all the westerners coming in with bleeding hearts and open wallets.

I think one of the most dangerous attitudes in a poor, developing, nation is one that promotes a culture of adoption. I believe a country like Ethiopia does not need a presence and culture of adoption, at least not as rampant as it is right now. They need support and a culture of family preservation, but the money flooding into the country due to adoptions has changed the landscape of Ethiopian families.

I heard one of the "higher-ups"of the NGO that referred our son through Dove, say something that shocked me. She, an Ethiopian woman, claimed over eggs and toast as it if were completely matter of fact: "Children are better off adopted to the US and Europe. It's better this way." She was making an impressive living off of getting the children of her country into the hands of well meaning white folks. She made me sick, and this was long before I knew anything about adoption ethics. But her words haunt me to this day.

Her driving philosophy, I am sure passed down to employees within the organization, can go far in justifying coercing children away from families, leaving out information in paperwork, and twisting the truth a little to make kids adoptable. Dove worked with these people. And they still hire to this day an attorney who is surely aware that of the vast number of babies they moved through the adoption process with lightening speed, many had many errors or easy omissions in their paperwork. Many of them had no record of birth family and were "abandoned."  This attorney has lied, participated in trying hiding information about children and attempts to bribe and manipulate families in process. I know this because it happened to my friends.

In the last two years Dove has offered gag money to families (including my friends) who's adoptions were fraught with lies. Some families took it because they wanted to move on, didn't want to tell their story. They wanted it all to be over. Some families didn't take it and are able to keep telling their story.

Where things get complicated is that Dove has also have placed many children who needed families. Isn't that terrible? That an organization can do good things and bad things?  How many bad decisions and lies can an agency perpetuate? How many families can participate in sketchy adoptions before an agency is investigated in earnest?  What is the ratio of "good adoptions" to "bad adoption"s that tips the scales to making an agency "bad" enough to shut down? Apparently that number, that ratio is unknown and unreachable because appallingly, Dove claims they lost their accreditation to facilitate adoptions in other countries not because of the many complaints filed against them for breaches in ethics, but rather because their staff didn't have enough graduate degrees. In their words:

"Hague regulations specify that the Social Services Supervisor must have a “human services related” degree plus some experience in international adoption. Unfortunately, the Council on Accreditation, a private entity the U.S. Government contracts with to accredit adoption agencies, has interpreted the regulation narrowly and determined that the lack of a “counseling” degree of our employee prevents [name of Dove Employee] from supervising.  On every other item in the report Dove received high marks. This was the sole item preventing reaccreditation."  
This is mind blowing for two reasons. One, Dove may not feel the need to tell the real story of their problems to their current clients, and thus, is possibly lying to protect their image as they drown. Or even worse, and Dove may be spot on and truthful in the reason they could not get reaccredited, and that means all the complaints filed against them and their staff over the years don't mean anything to anyone with concern for the welfare of Ethiopia's children.

If this really is true, it may be almost impossible for an agency to be brought to justice and forced to stop working in Ethiopia even when there are recorded and documented cases of lies and corruption. There are agencies (who and why here) who should be investigated, and shut down. They have red flags and complaints all over them. And it seems the voices of families who shout to to any governing body in the US and in Ethiopia are just not being heard.

To make matters more embarrassing for Dove, they have told their families who are in waiting right now for referrals that before they close in a few months,

"We are doing our best to refer as many as possible and complete them while we have available funds.  One possibility we are considering is to raise the referral fee for those families who are given a referral, to ensure that our Ethiopia office will remain able to finish those adoptions."

Did you catch that?  "We are gonna try to get kids out as fast as we can, and we are gonna ask you for even more money to make this happen."

So Dove is closing. And it's good. And yet it doesn't mean what  it should mean, because they truly might not be closing due to a recognition that they were participating and facilitation a corrupt adoptions. It's not a sanction. It doesn't inform or warn other agencies to act more ethically.  No, they could be closing due to a mere technicality.

And speaking of voices who are not heard, lets go back to the vacation/wedding/ hotel metaphor for a  moment. I want you to know that the quandary of the hypothetical person speaking out, wanting to warn others about the botched scam wedding is very real.  Families that speak out against agencies and tell stories of fraud in their processes and want to warn other families looking to adopt or who are in process are consistently shut down. They are shunned. They are told they are mood killers. They lose real life friends and Facebook friends. They are kicked off of support groups. They are asked to stop talking because they could ruin adoption for everyone else.

But I want it to be clear: families who beg for someone, anyone to listen to their story are not ruining anyone's adoption. It may feel like they are threatening something dear to the heart. Something prayed about, stressed about and let's not talk about the savings and check writing. But really, they are not threatening adoption. The agencies they are trying to chuck a stone at, like David against Goliath, who participate in child trafficking, or forge documents, or don't investigate "abandoned" children's history, or turn a blind eye to poor practices, they are the ones that are ruining adoption.

And what is far worse, they are destroying families. Not yours, the one you dreamed about, the one that has a cute brown kid in it. No, the first families. Ethiopian families. Children who should or could stay with their parents, or at very least in their extended family, or even country, are far too easily brought into a system. And once these kids are in the system, reunification seems far too rare.

I am an adoptive parent, with three wonderful children from Ethiopia. I love adoption. I love Ethiopia. Even after all I've said, I do want kids who need loving families to be adopted. I just don't have a lot of optimism that there are enough people in Ethiopia, at agencies, orphanages, at the US Embassy in the Ethiopian court system who know how to make sure the kids who are adopted really should be adopted. I am losing my faith.

Before we all nod off to sleep, I end by saying I wish Dove were closing for the right reasons. Not because they ran out of money and didn't have a staff member with the right kind of Master's degree. But because they failed to do right by Ethiopia and their clients. I wish more agencies were asked to close their doors too, for also participating in corruption.  Ethiopian adoption reform has so much room for improvement. I pray it happens, for the sake of children, Ethiopian families and adoptive families, who deserve better.

**After I wrote this post, I was flooded with emails and Facebook messages on the Scooping it Up page, and I wrote another post to try and address some of those questions. 


Barb Aloot said...

You've said this so well. And I am rejoicing that CWA and Dove are closing - I hope none of the players at either are ever involved in adoption anywhere again. I do want to adopt from Ethiopia again, and I want to know that the children being adopted genuinely have no better option. Kicking out the unethical agencies is the best thing that can happen for ethical adoptions to continue.

Leah said...

The hardest pill for me to swallow with Dove, is that they did some good and some bad, and it's eating at me thinking and wondering if my son was truly an orphan. If his case was one of the ethical ones. I've reached out to a PI now to find as much out as I can. It's all just very very sad. I remember choosing an agency and finding out about Dove. I read the reviews, and the only negative one I saw, I rationalized that it was juts one person's bad experience. I read many good reviews too. Isn't it amazing how we can rationalize when it comes to what we want to believe? I'm glad they are closing their doors to, and the manner and communication in which they've done it, is speaking volumes about who they are as an agency. It's just all very very sad. I wish I knew then what I know now. I'd probably still be on a waitlist, but. . .

Stacy Cloyd said...

It seems fishy that they'd close for the reason they say--why wouldn't they just hire someone with the appropriate degree?

Also, do you have any suggestions for NGOs doing family preservation work (in Ethiopia or elsewhere)? I would like to make donations to them. One I like is Real Hope for Haiti, which operates clinics, does school sponsorships, has a feeding program where the kids go back to their families with nutrition education, etc. I wish it weren't missionaries (from a local development standpoint and because as a non-Christian of faith, I love religion and also worry about its power to define who gets helped and what barriers they have to cross to get it). It's not a perfect NGO but I think it seems good and I'd like to hear of others people support.

Shannon said...

I, too, have mixed emotions because our adoption in 2009/10 with Dove was “smooth” and we chose them based on a recommendation from a friend who had used them and we chose them after researching and researching. I thought we were well-versed since we weren’t new to international adoption and were more than aware of ethics in both international and domestic adoption after having adopted from China and the baby trafficking scandal there led us to hire a PI to investigate our daughter’s adoption story. Before our first international adoption, we walked away from a domestic adoption with a highly-regarded, well-known U.S. adoption agency because their dealings with the birthmother were total coercion and they tried to pit us against another adoptive family by telling us “if we made a charitable donation in the amount of…” we could get the upper edge and would “make it to the top of the list” and be selected by the birthmother.

I am reminded of the backlash and anger when UNICEF released its opinion on international adoption (http://www.unicef.org/media/media_41118.html). So many people were angry. Three international adoptions later, I’m beginning to understand even if it isn’t easy to hear.

I would also like to read more and find more information on hiring PI’s inside Ethiopia to research adoption stories.

scooping it up said...

To Stacy Cloyd, fantastic question. I will work on getting a list of programs in Ethiopia that work on family preservation. Thanks for asking. I have a few names floating in my brain, and I want to do a little HW before listing. Please come back for an update!

Shannon, many many many folks, including us have done repeated private investigations in Ethiopia. I would say over half the people I am friends with have gone back to Ethiopia to search, learn the truth and open up communication with first family.

We learned a lot of stuff that was not investigated about our son's case/situation.

Investigations can be tricky for a few reasons and that could be the topic for another post: but I highly recommend private investigations.

Kari said...

Boy, do I wish I had been better educated when applying, instead of soaking in the warm fuzzies about how the work I'd be doing would be a blessing. Although, I do believe in some cases it was. My eyes opened when going to Ethiopia, much like yours Scoopy. The attitudes of those assisting with the adoption in ET was appalling. "Seeing" the some what never-ending pipeline of families coming into the "waiting" room adopting babies on a fast track process. Countries need family preservation, one thing (among many) I would like to see from adoption agencies is that by-law they must contribute to family preservation programs that are NOT linked to the organization in which assist with the adoption. The idea is that the money given can't be funneled back into the hands of those in adoption. The issues, though, seem so big and so convoluted I don't know if adoptions in countries like ET can continue and be ethical without MAJOR overhaul. Like closing entirely and restructuring.

I could go on and on.

I am sadden that so many families I know and nurtured thru the process have crappy stuff mixed in their adoption. Dove should have closed long ago, or severed ties rather than turn a blind eye. The employees who had "bad feelings" about info families reported should have spoken up faster, including myself. I agree with you about being sadden that Dove is closing because of a technicality instead of their own amission to being apart of fraud and doing nothing. Yet, I can guarantee they believe they are doing God's will.

janekurtz said...

Brave post! I'm a listener in this world--someone who has never adopted but someone who grew up in Ethiopia and can understand how easy it must be for some people to justify that the kids will be better off. My passion will always be for strengthening Ethiopian communities so that families WON'T feel that way. Hope we'll be able to keep Ethiopia Reads (www.ethiopiareads.org) going to do a piece of that.

Sha Zam- said...

I get the sentiment of ' wanting them out for being wrong' . But if the reasons for not certification was 'child traficking' 'mismanagment of funds' etc... they'd fight it. and conitinue to do business in the mean time. And the groups responsible for doing the recerts are not well funded... and won' tever be. Shannon & T

tina b said...

Hi! Our friends were a Dove family, and are trying to find others. I found you on google. I don't think you are, but maybe your readers will be or know someone who is. You may already be in contact with them, but here is their website. Hope this helps all of you find each other!


scooping it up said...

Tina B - I am a Dove family, our first adoption was through them, hence my personal connection to this agency, I thought my post made that clear.

marymuses said...

So glad you wrote this post. I am happy to see both CWA and Dove closing doors. I think there are a few more that need to go. Maybe more than a few more. I think it is more common to find out truth that was hidden when a family does a search than it is to find that everything was by the book. I think this is true even of the best of agencies. There are so many places where things can go wrong, and if an agency is purposely committing ethics violations on top of the other areas of concern, then it's just a disaster.

sarasolace said...

Stacy Cloyd and others who asked about NGO's doing family preservation or other good work, I strongly recommend the following:

2. WEEMA International (Formerly Mudula Water)
3. Hope by twelve
4. Clinic at a Time

Each of these organizations are doing outstanding work in funding education, health, self-sufficiency, working with women, and partnering with local communities to truly make a difference in the lives of families-- adults and children, together-- for a better life.

Kyra said...

I can't speak to what information was out there when you did your first adoption. What I can wonder about is how people now continue to select these blatantly unethical agencies. Do people not know how to do a simple google search? Join a couple of online forums? Is a recommendation from a friend really all that it takes? People do more research when buying a car.

maggie g. said...

Thank you for sharing this... I know it was difficult to write and I appreciate your honesty on the subject.

Stacy said...

Good post and good analogy, as even people who never planned a wedding (like me) can see the stress involved. I wasn't a Dove client but I am a victim of a different agency,mdifferent first country, who DID speak out. I contacted the embassy, my congressional representatives (senators and rep), the COA, the agency's state licensing office, the Better Business Bureau, anyone I could think of. When Dateline came calling, I answered. THAT made a difference, in both the number of other victims of this agency willing to speak out AND on public beliefs about how much money is to be made by shady individuals. After Dateline, the agency's local news did a follow up and the agency closed the very next day, we're denied COA accreditation, and pretty much disappeared from sight. Did people bad mouth me when I spoke out? Yes, but not nearly in the quantities I feared (and this was over five years ago, before international adoptions were in the ethical spotlight they are in now), and most people were incredibly supportive. In fact, my real life friends who continually rolled their eyes at my misery finally sympathied and started to understand that it wasn't anything I personally did, that I just got caught up with shady people. How clients can continue to look the other way at these claims, after so many years of victims screaming, especially when we're talking about "hotbed" first countries, is beyond me.

If you are the first victim to speak out, that doesn't mean you were THE first victim. If you look for more negative stories to prove your story is really as bad as you think it was, you'll find more. It is unfortunate that the business of international adoption has somehow shadowed the true need.

julie said...

Great post,thank you.

One thing I've never understood is why anyone would want to use an agency that umbrellas under another one. Even if you leave ethics completely out of it (!), how could there possibly be any advantage to adding a layer of bureaucracy to an adoption? The could the cost and time frame wouldn't be any better than the partnering agency. (I exclude the families who are with Dove now, and will have to continue with them if they hope to complete their adoptions. My heart goes out to you)

I am curious to know who is going to work with Dove....

Rachel Pehl said...

Thanks for sharing this post. We recently left our agency because of the unethical activity that was going on there. This gives me courage to deal with all the judgement when the word gets out.

hotflawedmama said...

Great post. Brave mama, carry on warrior. Love to you

Life in the Bend said...

Yes, you nailed it! We started our first adoption with Dove in 2006 before the first bad story started to circulate. We had a great experience with them and recommended them to friends. When we started our second adoption in 2010, we re-did all our research. We were aware of the original very bad story, but other than that we didn't read any specifically bad reviews of Dove - just people saying they were a bad agency. Since it seems like all agencies have some problems and faults, we went ahead and signed with Dove again.

Since people are asking for evidence to support poor behavior on Dove's part, here is what I posted on an agency review board. I apologize because the formating will probably be off.

In short:
1. Communication was absolutely deplorable. We applied to adopt child(ren) with
special needs and were told that because we were open to some specific and
common needs, we needed to be prepared for an instant referral. We waited seven
months with no explanation. I am fine with the waiting. I was not fine with the
fact that nobody would return our calls or emails asking questions about the
process. We were not pests, but did have some questions over whether our
requests were too specific and if we needed to open our request to healthy
child(ren). We never got a reply. Ever. Not from the program director. Not from
the director of the agency (she replied and said she would get back to us the
following week with answers and never did despite reminder emails). When we were
matched with our children, it turned out they had already been in the orphanage
system for nine months and nobody could tell us why the powers that be had
waited so long to match them with us.

We were told after our referral that it would take 1-5 weeks to be submitted for
a court date. It took NINETEEN weeks just to be submitted. Again, nobody was
returning our emails or offering an explanation of why this wasn't happening. It
eventually turned out that there was a power struggle within the orphanage and
our paperwork was being held hostage in a locked office.

At one point while we were waiting to be submitted to court, an email circulated
from Adoption Avenues families that was supposed to be a private internal memo
from the orphanage. It said there wasn't enough money for food, nannies, and
medical care, and that soon the nannies might leave and children might not
receive medical services. We were panicked and considered leaving immediately
for Ethiopia. It took Dove two full days to issue a mass email addressing this
and during that time they weren't returning our phone calls or emails. This
email did not address whether children were receiving medical services and our
children need regular medication. Again, the program director and then the
agency director never replied to our messages inquiring about this.

Life in the Bend said...

Part II:
By the time of our court date, we were spooked enough by what we were seeing
other Dove families experience (not my stories to share), that we took matters
into our own hands and did a third party investigation to verify what we'd been
told about our children's stories and to also present to the U.S. Embassy with
our application. After we'd prepared our third-party investigation reports
to be submitted to the USE with our application, Dove told us to let them submit
it so all of our paperwork would be together. They submitted our son's
investigation report but forgot to submit our daughter's. We would not have
known that and our daughter's case likely would have been put into review by
USE/USCIS. Luckily, I'd been in contact with the vice-consular and he emailed me
to thank us for our son's report and to ask if there was any chance we'd done
the same thing with our daughter's case. The vice-consular emailed us personally to say that they were
able to clear our case specifically because of the information we had gathered
without any help or urging whatsoever from Dove.

During the nine months between our referral and bringing home our children, we
got two photo updates of our daughter and one of our son. At one point Dove said
our photos weren't making it over the internet because our children were in a
different orphanage than most of the children and the internet wasn't as good.
However, our friends whose children were in the same orphanage as our children
received regular photo updates during the same time period that ours were there.

All told, our children spent 17 months in orphanages when they had paper-ready
adoptive parents trying to bring them home.

We adopted our older children through Dove in 2007 and had a very good
experience with them - probably because the entire country program was running
very smoothly. The adoption of our younger children - who came home in April
2012 - was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, in large part
because our agency was so unresponsive. Imagine not getting replies to emails or
voicemails from the agency in charge of helping you when things are going very,
very wrong in your process. I did find that if I called from a friend's out of
state cellphone, they generally picked up at the Dove office.

Nearly all the staff at Dove, including the program director, have turned over
in the past year. However, the agency director, to whom we appealed many times
to help us achieve better communication, is still the one in charge. Yes, she
eventually replaced the employee who was so terrible at helping families and
Dove says they now go through each case carefully before referral, but it took
her a very, very long time to take action. That would make me hesitate if I were
a PAP.

I can't speak to the issue of true violations of ethics with Dove. We didn't experience that ourselves and independently investigated all four of our children's cases and found them to be legitimate. However, I would be very interested to read what others know.

Amanda Mills said...

We adopted a 2.5yr old in 2009. We told our agency from the very first call we were only open to adopting a child w living relatives that we could meet prior to court. Long story short, we did meet our daughter's birth mother several times during process and felt she understood what was happening (her child was leaving Ethiopia).
After returning home, w a very sick little girl, we knew we needed to go back. So this past nov my husband made the journey back to Ethiopia and traveled out to our daughter's village so he could speak to her mother and other relatives in a less intimidating environment. All meetings during our process were very formal and I couldn't help wondering how authentic everyone's emotions were?? We did find out that some (relatively minor) facts were off...
My husband's trip was so so worth all the other information he gathered... So even if you are part of what feels like an ethical adoption, going back and connecting when not in the middle of the adoption can be a wonderful thing.
We decided to sponsor our daughter's birth mother and her family and currently are receiving monthly updates w photos... Our agency has had nothing to do w any of this.
All this said the ethics around adopting from developing countries are not black and white. I feel in many ways our daughter is (sorry if this isn't PC) better off w us but I am also sadly aware of the circumstances and misogyny that led her mother to make the decision to give her daughter away. When I study the photos that apear in my in box monthly I cannot help but see/feel her pain.
We are planning a big trip back w our whole family in 2016. My husband promised our daughter's birth mother that we would all be present. I pray everyday her health will hold up...
Thank you for this blog, for your vigilance, and for your voice. My mantra lately has been "life doesn't have to be easy to be good."