reputable adoption agencies? Need help!!
Can anyone give me pointers from experience as to what agencies are good and which ones to stear clear of? I have been online with and also adoption-partners. Can anyone recommend any others that have photolistings? Are the two above reputable? You are the only link i have to stearing me in the right direction. Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.
Thank you.
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Stork Adoption Agency
This is an agency I have encountered in my research. They do not have a photolisting on the website, but will provide photographs (along with medical histories, etc) upon request. They are very reliable, offer personalized service, and have lots of children available. Definitly give them a call. Here is a link to the website for your reference: [url=]Stork Adoption Agency[/url]
What country are you leaning towards? It is more than your agency being reputable, they also have to be effective in the country you are drawn to. An agency may be great in one coutnry, and horrible in another.

So, I would really suggest:

1. Pick your country
2. Pick your agency
3. Pick your child.

If you have a couple of countries in mind, post a message looking for agency suggestions on that specific county's forum.

In general, be very careful with photolistings.

First off, many countries do not permit the photolisting of children, in the interests of protecting their privacy. If you go with an agency that photolists children from a country that does not permit photolisting, and the country becomes aware of the photolisting, you could be put into a situation where you cannot bring the child home after having committed emotionally and financially to him/her.

Second, remember that photolistings were developed in order to help agencies find homes for the hardest-to-place children -- usually school aged children, children with signficant special needs, or children in sibling groups of three or more. Many people who wouldn't normally think about adopting a ten year old or a child who is missing an arm will change their minds upon seeing the picture of the beautiful child in question.

Legitimate adoption agencies almost never need to use photolistings for healthy infants and young toddlers, especially girls. They usually have long waiting lists of families who want such children, and do not need to recruit new families. If you see a photolisting of an infant or toddler, with a notation that he/she is healthy, ask a lot of questions.

Unfortunately, there are disreputable agencies that use one or both of the following:

1. Bait and switch tactics. They post pictures of a gorgeous child who is not -- and may never have been -- available for adoption, just to get you to call them. They then say, "Oh, we JUST placed that child but we have lots of other beautiful children. Why don't you fill out an application?" Or, worse yet, they have you send a nonrefundable deposit, and then come up with an excuse about why he/she is no longer available.

2. Misrepresentation. They post pictures of a child whom they represent as healthy, when they know that the child has been rejected by families who have met him/her because he/she clearly has very significant and non-correctable physical or mental challenges, or when they have disturbing medical reports that they do not plan to share with families.

In addition, there are some agencies that photolist genuinely available healthy infants, in the hopes that some family will fall in love with them and sign up with them, without doing their homework. Unfortunately, there are some agencies that offer such terrible service that you shouldn't go with them, even if a healthy infant is available. You will run the risk of a terrible adoption experience if you choose these agencies -- paying high fees, and running into delays and difficulties that far exceed those normal in intercountry adoption.

If you plan to use photolistings, NEVER send any money until you have researched the agency representing a particular child, to see if it is right for you. And NEVER give in to an agency's demands that you send a non-refundable deposit to "hold" a child for you, even before it sees your approved homestudy and such. No reputable agency will take a child out of circulation, without knowing that a family is paper-ready and suitable for meeting the child's needs.

Photolistings can be an excellent option for families who are strong enough NOT to fall in love with a picture, to the point of failing to exercise good judgment. They can also be an excellent option for families who are open to the possibility of parenting an older child or a child with special needs, as long as they have really done their homework and understand the challenges inherent in older child and special needs adoptions.

But in many cases, a person would be much better off if he/she stayed away from photolistings, and simply did a lot of homework to identify an ethical agency working in his/her country of interest. Once the person has identified such an agency, that agency will work hard to ensure that the person receives a referral of a child whom he/she is equipped to parent, and who will be the child of his/her dreams.

To add to the above, here are some ways to evaluate an agency:

1. Contact the U.S. Embassy in your country of choice, and ask if the agency has had many cases in which children were rejected for visas, either because they did not qualify as "eligible orphans" under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act or because of suspected irregularities in the adoption process. Also, ask if the agency has been working with any in-country facilitators whom the Embassy has identified as associated with improprieties in the adoption process.

2. Contact the state licensing authorities in the state or states where the agency is licensed. Find out if the agency is in good standing, and if it has a history of disciplinary action. Also ask whether there is a complaint registry and find out what complaints have been lodged against it in recent years. While nearly all agencies will occasionally receive a complaint, usually because a family didn't do enough research ahead of time to find an agency that was a "good fit, look for a pattern of serious complaints involving financial or ethical problems.

3. Contact the Better Business Bureau in the state(s) where the agency is licensed. Ask the questions in #2.

4. If you will be adopting from a country that has ratified the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption, make sure that it is accredited by the U.S. to do Hague adoptions, usually through the Council on Accreditation (COA) in New York. Once the U.S. has ratified the Hague, which will probably occur in early to mid 2008, you will need to use an accredited agency to adopt from a country that has ratified. Even if you will not be adopting from a Hague country, consider choosing a COA accredited agency, as it is likely to have systems and processes that represent good adoption practice -- for example, a written grievance procedure and a refund procedure.

5. If you will be adopting from a country that directly accredits American agencies wishing to place children from there (for example, Russia), be sure to choose an agency that has received the necessary foreign accreditation. In general, stay away from any agency that "umbrellas" -- that is, that works with an agency that is accredited, but that is not, itself, accredited. You could well wind up being unable to complete an adoption if the foreign country becomes aware of the practice of "umbrella-ing" and moves to stop it.

6. Determine whether an agency is a member of well-respected organizations of adoption professionals. The main one for international adoption is the Joint Council on International Adoption (JCICS), though you may also want to look for membership in the National Council for Adoption, the Child Welfare League of America, and/or the North American Council on Adoptable Children. These organizations advocate for ethical conduct in adoption, and help to provide in-service education for adoption professionals. While they can't guarantee their members' performance, you will find that they do tend to attract agencies that share their commitment to ethical conduct and well-trained professionals.

7. It is especially meaningful if key people from an agency have served on the Board of one of the organizations mentioned in #7, or have made presentations at the organizations' conferences and workshops. Such involvement generally shows that an agency's staff are respected by their peers, and familiar with good adoption practice.

8. Become an "expert" on adoption from your country of choice. Get to know the laws and processes well, through reading reliable information from unbiased sources such as the U.S. State Department. You will then be able to read agency websites and literature and determine whether they are making any untrue statements. And remember the old adage, "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably isn't true!"

9. When considering an agency, ask the staff for a list of references. Insist on getting the names of people who have used the agency RECENTLY and for the SAME country that you are considering, and who have completed their adoptions. Remember that agency programs can change in quality over time, and that an agency can have a great program in one country, but a mediocre one in another.

10. Also go out to your local adoption support group and on-line to find other references, not provided by the agency. Remember that agency-provided references are likely to include only the most satisfied clients of the agency! Again look for people who have used the agency RECENTLY and for the SAME country that you are considering.

11. When you contact references, be very specific in what you ask them. It is not enough to ask, "Were they ethical?" or "Did you have a good experience?" Think about what is most important to you, since an agency that is a good fit for one person may be totally inadequate for another. As an example, if you have never traveled overseas before and are rather scared about doing so, be sure to ask lots of questions about the degree of in-country support. An experienced international traveler, or one with previous adoption experience, may not need as much in-country support.

Choosing a good agency is one of the most important things you can do in planning for an adoption. It can mean the difference between a joyful experience and one that ends in a broken heart and an empty wallet. So do your homework thoroughly.

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