After more thought than the average adoptive parent would EVER put into their agency choice, we have it narrowed down to three agencies we’re really considering.
Agency A: Local. 50 miles from us. Already handling our homestudy. Allows for closed, semi-open and open arrangements. Claim they average about a year between completing your homestudy and holding a baby. Cons: They require money up front. If we end up going to another agency, that money is lost. But if a situation falls through (say a bmom decides to parent), we don’t lose that money. It will transfer to the next available adoption situation. They’ve only been coordinating adoptions since last March. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure gives me questions to ask. In fact, I have a HUGE list of questions for this place. I’m waiting on pins and needles for them to write me back today or give me a call.
Agency B: Located near Dallas. That’s 6.5 hours from us. Not a huge deal, but they require all adoptive parents to attend FOUR “quarterly” seminars at their office. These seminars are usually always scheduled for Tuesday evenings, and they can’t be made up in a teleconference. Could they make this any harder for out of town adoptive parents? Especially since Travis is a teacher. He can’t take off at the drop of a hat when he has to arrange for subs and has contest dates locked in place a full year in advance. There are kids counting on him. They claim that depending on the race you’re open to, placement of a baby in your arms could take anywhere from 6 months to one year. I imagine we’d land on the latter side of that estimate now, but what if you land on the former side? How can you attend 4 quarterly meetings before you can adopt if you’re matched and placement occurs before all 4 of these meetings can happen? It’s very confusing to me. Their fees are very reasonable, and they don’t require any money up front at all. You don’t pay until the baby is born, the mother has signed her paperwork and you’re on your way. All good. But those blasted meetings…what do we do with LB? What does Travis do with 70+ kids who are counting on him should one of these mandatory meetings land on an important date they’ve been preparing for all year? This just makes me nervous.
Agency C: Located near Austin. Again, roughly 6 hours from us. However, they DON’T require any in-house meetings when we sign up. Yea! They also don’t require a penny down until you have a baby in your arms. Sounds great, right? I know. Their fees are also very reasonable… However, they’ve been increasingly difficult to talk to. I have been emailing her for nearly a year because originally this was the agency we were absolutely set on. She said they were “desperate” for parents willing to sign up for their African American program, and originally we were. She was very nice and helpful. Recently though, I can’t get her on the phone and my emails are going unanswered. I sent her an email a month ago asking about any changes in their program fees from the last time we talked, and she shot me an email back that said, “Debbie, I’m busy. Can you talk to this woman?” Um… excuse me? I wrote her back and said I’m pretty sure that was intended for Debbie and not me. Her response was overtly polite and filled with many apologies. She said, “I’m so sorry, I was out of office and I definitely wanted your questions answered immediately, so I was writing my assistant Debbie to ask her to tend to your needs so you would receive prompt service.” Funny, “Debbie, I’m busy. Can you talk to this woman” certainly didn’t read like a person who was exceptionally concerned with her client service and promptness….
So that was a huge turn-off for me. Also, they said they needed us to print off a complete credit report for them. I talked to my homestudy coordinator at Agency A, and she said she’s “never” heard of an agency requesting a pulled credit report. In fact, she laughed at the thought. She said, “Before you move further with them, I would call and ask why.” So I did.
Sharon the wonder agent (the same one who rather curtly brushed me off to ‘Debbie’) was busy (or she was when they told her it was me on the line) when I called, so I got to talk to the unnamed receptionist who was obviously eating on the other end and had a smoker’s cough like you couldn’t imagine. I asked her why the wanted a credit report and she said, “Um… I dunno.” I asked her if she could find out for me. She was gone for a while, then came back and said, “Oh, they just wanna know that you’re not like in debt up to your eyeballs.” I sighed and said, “That’s a little subjective. Look, my homestudy social worker wants to know why you need this credit report and why a credit score would reflect on our ability to parent a child if you already have access to our bank accounts and paycheck.” She said, “Well, they just like, want to know like, if you are drowning in debt.” OOOOkkkk. Thanks.
So I’m thinking as great as Agency C sounds on paper (low fees, no meeting required, etc.) they’re off the table. I sent an email to both A and B on Friday and they haven’t responded yet. I requested for both to either write back or call me. I want to arrange a face to face meeting with Agency A.
I realize I’m being incredibly over-analytical about this. But for us, this is big money. This is also a big risk, because if you pick an agency that doesn’t REALLY work themselves to the bone for their clients, then you aren’t going to be matched. I want that phone to ring as soon as possible. I need an agency that really works for their families. So here we are.
I’ve been praying about this for months, and I’m hoping to have a decision very soon. I said a long time ago that I wanted to have an agency picked as soon as our homestudy is complete. That way we can send it straight to that agency and proceed with their program applications. (Most places will not let you apply to their programs until you have a completed homestudy on file.)
I know I’ll be checking my phone and email obsessively today. I just want to get this show on the road. Enough research, let’s commit to something!
I wanted to share with you where we are in this, and as always I try to remain transparent about the myriad of emotions and anxieties that come with adoption. The choices and decisions are hard and weighty from the very beginning. Be prepared for that, and do your research. We didn’t dive in- we slowly stepped into the shallow end. I feel like now we’re standing on those pebbly little steps that suddenly drop off into waist-high waters. I’ve got my arm floaties on, I just need to know where to step.