At , Chosen Parents™ we receive calls daily from adoptive families that are interested in situations that we have posted. Many of them are distraught because they have already paid an adoption agency and they are unable to move forward with another active service because their agency refuses to refund any of their money. They are stuck with this service . Without exception , they regret making the decision to hire the first service.
Since Chosen Parents™ does not work directly with adoptive parents, we do not “have a horse in the race ” so to speak. We can , without bias, suggest to you what to look for in an agency or attorney. This information will hopefully save you from being stuck with a service that you will ultimately be unhappy with.
1. Stay away from the mega agencies
These “mega agencies ” or “mega facilitators ” or “mega attorneys ” seduce adoptive families with their flash and fanfare. They are apt to have a high end website containing a myriad of articles and custom videos that are designed to lure you in , lots of super friendly “sales” staff, and a brick and mortar location in a high end rent district , all paid for of course by the hard earned money of the adoptive families that retain them. They usually have profiles of hundreds and hundreds of families posted on their website , some in excess of a thousand. So many adopting parents could not have all made the wrong choice could they ? Yes. And most likely they did. These families, are by far, the ones that we get the most complaints from . Many have been with these services for in excess of 5 years . Some of them will say that they had called originally to inquire , and within days the service called them with an ideal situation , and the service would like to present them to the potential birth mother. If they already have 500 or 1000 families, why aren’t they presenting THEIR profiles , rather than yours… when you aren’t even one of their clients yet ?
Some of these services HAVE to continually bring in new families. The monies that the newer clients paid may be long gone.. spent on overhead. In order to keep going , they bring in more and more families . The problem is, with fewer birth mothers available, there is going to be a longer and longer waiting period.
2. Make sure that the service that you hire has a refund policy
When a service requires $25,000.00-$35,000.00 upfront , most people feel like they are being kept hostage as time goes by and they realize that the service that they hired is inactive. There are a lot of adoption services that are going out of business these days. They just don’t have the resources to advertise, and they have few or no birth mothers that are seeking placement. It can be agonizing to be stuck with one of these services , being unable to pursue another viable adoption situation that you come across just because you no longer have the funds. Make sure that whoever you sign up with will commit to giving you a refund for any services that you have not used with them. That will give you an out and an opportunity to adopt elsewhere if need be. Make sure that the refund policy is in writing .
3. Avoid companies that promise you efforts to “rematch” within the next two years
It is upsetting for us to receive phone calls from adopting families that tell us that they hired an adoption service based on a potential match . They paid a large fee to this service and were told not to worry , if the expectant mother changed her mind, the service would spend the next 2 years seeking another match for the family . Some services don’t have a time limit.. they state they will continue their efforts until the client adopts. The second match , or third , or however many it took for the clients to adopt would be at no cost because the large amount of money paid up front would cover the future costs of advertising. Those high energy salespeople that are employed by these services, can make this sound like a winning proposition. It is … but almost always only for the adoption service. Ask yourself the following question . If you see that this adoption service has in excess of 1000 families posted on their site , why did they reach out to you in the first place with this situation ? Shouldn’t they have offered the case to one of the families that has already paid them ? Their excuse may be that the expectant mother is looking for someone in particular , that none of the thousand(s) of families fit that criteria. If that is the case, request that they make an exception and refund your money minus an admin fee in case of a failiure, don’t get stuck in their rematching ploy.
If you have hired a service under these circumstances, wherein you have paid for that initial match , and the adoption plan disrupted, and you are now on “the list” for 2 years.. or forever, depending on their contract , we are going to make you aware that there is a very good chance that you will not only lose all of the nonrefundable monies that you have paid, but 2 plus years of time. Do not count on a “rematch”. We receive calls daily from families that have never received another call after their first failure. These companies need new money coming in in order to operate. Our numbers show us that some of the largest companies out there have so many families on their “list” already , that it may take in excess of 5 years of heavy advertising just to match the active families on their site, without ever taking on a new client.
DO NOT LOSE CONTROL OF YOUR ADOPTION JOURNEY.
By entering into one of these agreements, you are at the mercy of complete strangers. They have your money , and now they have years of your life. Waiting in silence as day after day goes by with nothing more than a periodic false hope email or a pep talk when you desperately call them after weeks of silence only to be told things like , ” well it’s been a little slow for the last few weeks, I am sure things will pick up they always do “, or ” the right situation for you just hasn’t come around yet , be patient”, can be frustrating and depressing. There is no reason for you to ever have to be in this position. Don’t do it.
4. Do your due diligence
We recently received a call from a couple that had paid a huge amount of nonrefundable money to an adoption facilitator who had a birth mother situation posted on her website. When they called us they had just gone through what they described as a nightmare experience with the birth mother that they were matched with. As they explained what they had been through, they shared that they were very angry with this facilitator. They stated that they found out later that she knew much more about this situation than she had disclosed to them , and that they would have never proceeded had they known. Because the staff from Chosen Parents™ has been in the adoption advertising business for almost 30 years , we are familiar with most services. We pointed out to them that if they had done a simple internet search , that they would have discovered numerous lawsuits directed towards this facilitator, and that they all had an identical theme. The plaintiffs all felt that she had intentionally withheld critical information . The pattern of behavior would have been a huge red flag for these people, if they had only done some research.
Beware of Fake News. So often we hear from people that have researched an attorney or agency and were distressed by a review. Give that person a chance . Call them and explain your concerns . Listen to their side . We recently had someone concerned over a review regarding a facilitator that we had referred to . It turns out that the review was written by birth parents that had scammed a couple. The facilitator had taken legal action and the couple was upset. The birth father that wrote it is currently incarcerated for child molesting ! Some of the top agencies and attorneys in the country have negative reviews or articles. Look at patterns, not isolated instances . Gossip abounds on the internet . Do they have numerous judgments against them ? Are there numerous pending lawsuits ? Are there multiple people complaining about dishonesty ? Make sure that these numerous people are not their competition. Ask for references . Yes, it is scary to hand such a significant amount of money to a stranger, but by doing some research and making sure that the service that you retain has a refund policy , you can protect yourself.
5. Find out what services are being provided
There are “adoption centers” that will give you the impression that they are a licensed adoption agency . Their elaborate website suggests that these are people that have social worker experience, and that they will do everything to assist you in your adoption plan. They are not. Unless you specifically ask them , they will not volunteer that they are simply facilitators. One such organization charges $24,000.00 .. and they are in the state of California. Once you have paid this nonrefundable fee, there is a chance that if they do find you a situation , that it may not be legal to proceed as many states have passed laws that do not allow adoption facilitating . This same organization charges almost $8000 .00 to “assess” the birth mother that they have encouraged you to find through your own advertising efforts. You do not need this service. You can hire an attorney or agency in the state that she lives in to meet her in person and assess for a fraction of the cost. In fact , if you are using an agency , they will insist on meeting and assessing her, so the $8000 .00 that you sent the facilitator to do an “assessment ” was thrown out the window. There is nothing wrong with hiring professionals to assist you in your journey , but it should be clear going in as to exactly what you are paying for.
6. Consider hiring an Adoption Consultant to assist you.
If you are just getting started , and need guidance through the process, please consider hiring an adoption consultant . Consultants do charge a fee, but the money may be well worth it as they can give you guidance for a set fee rather than having to pay your attorney hundreds of dollars an hour for basic guidance . . Here are a few adoption consultants :
We can not recommend one in particular, so be sure to do your home work and ask for references and read reviews !
7. Ask for numbers
If you just can’t help yourself, and insist on hiring an adoption professional prior to locating a child to adopt, at the very least request verification that they are actually doing what they say thay are doing. Numbers should play a huge part in any major investment that you make in your life, yet so few people ask for numbers when writing a check for $30-$60000.00 to an adoption service. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR PROOF. You wouldn’t spend a huge amount of money on anything else wherein you didn’t do some research. You look at numbers when purchasing a car. How many miles per gallon of gas, what are the safety ratings, what size of engine does the vehicle have ? When making a home purchase , you may want to know what the ratings are of the schools are , what the neighborhood crime rate is , how much are the property taxes ? What are current interest rates ? What is the average summer temperature ? These are all numbers that assist you in making a decision on moving forward with a major life investment . Oftentimes, when we receive calls from adopting families that are lamenting about their service’s lack of..service . we pull up our own Google chart that shows us who we are competing with. Sometimes the biggest name companies do the least amount of advertising. Charismatic salespeople tell vulnerable adoptive families what they want to hear… but numbers don’t lie. It is very easy for them to send you a screenshot of their monthly internet activity .We post ours online for all to see.
If you have made the mistake of hiring a company that made you a lot of promises and more than three years have passed without a solid match , it is time for you to reevaluate your adoption journey.