Are you looking for an adoption agency to help you adopt from Ethiopia? Not all adoption agencies are created equal. Perhaps the most important first step is this: never base your decision on fee or speed of adoption process. Some agencies may guarantee you a baby fast and cheap. But when things seem too good to be true, they probably are. Consider these kinds of promises as a red flag.
Here are some tips and important things to consider before selecting an agency.
Ask if your agency is licensed in Ethiopia and how long they have been licensed there. Ask for a copy of their license to operate as an agency in Ethiopia (issued by the Societies and Agencies licensing authority in Ethiopia) if you doubt that they may not be telling you the whole truth. Some agencies do not have a license in Ethiopia but claim they can help you adopt from thee. This usually means they are partnering with another agency that has license. This means they don’t really have any control over your adoption and you are at the mercy of the agency they are partnering with. And there is a reason they were not able to be licensed in Ethiopia themselves so just go with one that has a license there.
2. HAGUE Accreditation
This is so IMPORTANT! If the agency has not been HAGUE Accredited then run the other way. There is a reason they didn’t pass the accreditation. They most likely have sloppy paperwork process or have low standards when it comes to the information they provide on a child. And they are most likely to be agencies that have been involved in some form of suspicious activity in their intercountry adoption programs. Eventhough the country you are adopting from is not a HAGUE country and doesn’t require adoption agencies to be HAGUE accredited to work in their countries; it doesn’t mean you should select an agency that doesn’t have an accreditation. The fact that very few agencies couldn’t pass the high standards placed by the accreditation process should be a big red flag for you. Visit the following site to know more about what HAGUE Convention is. http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/overview.php
If an agency fails a HAGUE accreditation then it is probable because it is not in compliance with the regulations and standards of HAGUE. You want to entrust your adoption of a child to an agency that meets ALL standards, not just a country that has little to no standards when it comes to adoption.
Always research any agency you are interested in. You can simply Google an agency and you can find many information, from complaints to useful comments from families. Of course every agency may have a complaint or two but avoid agencies that have many repeated complaints from current or past clients.
4. Orphanage & Agency Relationship
How many orphanages does your agency work with? And how many orphanages does your orphanage work with? In my many years working in Child Welfare in Ethiopia, I have noticed a direct correlation between the number of orphanages an agency works with and the number of agencies an orphanage works with. If an agency works with only one orphanage and the orphanage only work with one agency (not just US agency but including others in Europe, Canada & Australia) , one must question why the relationship is set that way. Usually it is an indicator that the exclusive relationship is set up so that an agency can “own” the orphanage.
How transparent is the agency with their clients? Some agencies want to “control” everything about your adoption and expect you to ask no questions about the process or the status of your adoption. At the end of the day YOU are the one adoption and YOU are the one who will be raising the child, therefore it is important that the agency you select has a culture of transparency when it comes to giving you information about your child. An agency should give you the following before you ask for it (and if not definitely when you ask for it). It is not limited to just these three things but the following are a must when you are given a referral of a child.
1. Complete medical on your child including lab work.
2. Complete social history of your child. This document should not be one that is generated by your agency. It should be a direct translation of an official document generated by the government of the country you are adopting from, declaring the child an orphan. If an agency does not give you such a document and only gives you their own “summary” only then it is possible that they are referring a child that is not declared an orphan yet.
3. Pictures of your child
After the adoption is approved at court, your agency should give you copies of documents such as court decrees, birth certificates and passports as they get them. They may not automatically give them to you but shouldn’t resist when you ask for them.