At Forever After Adoptions, 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 Forever After Adoptions 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, 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 . Waiting … and waiting. Many 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 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.oo 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. 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 Forever After Adoptions 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 . 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.
4. 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.