Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WWG and Choosing an Agency

Don't forget to enter my Gratitude Giveaway!

I am so thankful for my imagination. The world is such a magical, amazing place and I feel like I would miss out on so much without the gift of believing.

Today I am going to combine three questions I received because they are all along the same vein:

Would you recommend the agency you used with Joci to others? Yes

Another question asks how/why we chose the agency we used, what criteria we used, and why we ruled some out. The third questions asks why we didn't use LDS Family Services.

I didn't take choosing an agency lightly. I am an internet junkie (ask my husband - he says I'm always on the computer) so I did a lot of searches on adoption agencies and reputable practices. I decided that these factors were the most important to me:

  • No price differences based on race or gender
  • Unlimited counseling services for birth parents
  • Supported open adoption
  • Would let me meet with the potential caseworker free of charge before committing to use them
  • Had experience in the type of adoption we wanted (domestic infant)

I knew that it was important to find an agency that was the right fit for us. We were emotionally fragile and going into uncharted territory - we needed support and love and nurturing too! My sister's friend had experience with LDS Family Services in this area and I had a coworker who used a different agency. I spoke with both those women to understand their experiences.

I did internet research on other agencies too. They just didn't fit. Many have different prices based on the race of the baby. That is unacceptable to me and I refused to do business with any agency that profited from racism. Some just felt cheap. Some charged a lot more and offered a lot more to birth moms - but in a way it seemed like bribery to me. Some didn't really support open adoption. Some were more focused on international adoption.

We chose not to use LDS Family Services for several reasons. First, the area we live in is heavily LDS and the majority of adoptive couples here use that agency. That creates a lot of internal competition among the adopting couples. Most of the time when a potential birth mom comes in, the agency matches her desires and usually shows her just a handful of adoptive parent profiles - so if an agency has a lot of families they are representing, there is less chance your profile will be showed. I had also heard through couples that had used this specific branch of the agency and were frustrated with the turnaround time for homestudies and reports and lack of face time with the caseworker.

Those reasons were strategic. On a personal note, our infertility had made us fragile spiritually. I didn't want the stress of adopting to add on to that. Like if our caseworker made a mistake or took too long on our homestudy, we might redirect our anger and hold a grudge against the church. I didn't want to risk that. I hope that makes sense.

When talking with my boss one day about adoption, he mentioned a neighbor he had who worked for an agency called A New Beginning. He gave me her number. I called. They sent me a packet. I asked to meet the caseworker before committing. We set up a meeting. (Not all agencies were keen to have me take up their caseworkers' time without a commitment.) We met Claire. We loved her. She was so informative, kind, patient, and I could just smell the efficiency coming off her. I also liked the fact that this agency only represented 20 families at a time, thus controlling the quality of service they could give the families and it helped control the wait-time.

At the agency right after placement

We would've paid less through LDS Family Services because it is subsidized through the members' fast offerings, but we really felt like A New Beginning was the right fit. We prayed about it and felt good. I really feel like we made the right choice. Our experience was stellar. We had great support and Claire's turnaround time on paperwork was never more than three days. She is awesome!

Disclaimer: I just really want to emphasize that I think LDS Family Services is a great agency and I know for a fact that it is a moral and ethical agency. It has been the perfect fit for many, many families. It just wasn't right for us at that time. In fact we might use them in the future. Please don't take this as a dis on them. We even participate in many networking opportunities with them now and have a great supportive adoption community through them. And while I would wholeheartedly recommend A New Beginning, it might not be the perfect fit for everyone.

I would give this advice to anyone hoping to adopt: Figure out what is important to you in an agency. Research several agencies - don't go with the first one you hear about or the cheapest one. Insist on  meeting the caseworker. You're gonna spend a lot of time with your caseworker and he/she could be the cause of much frustration or much confidence and peace. You want the latter. Make sure you jive with them. And go with your gut.

P.S. Sorry for the long post. I just made the most sense to answer all those questions together.


Liz Smith said...

i found this post really interesting, especially your personal reasons for not going with LDS Family Services...mainly because i was curious too. Obviously, we all know you guys made the right choice. You just have to go with your gut. But don't worry, i didn't think you sounded at all like you were dissing them. I think your post made perfect sense. :)

Wendy said...

Great post, I think this kind of thing is helpful for people to see all the different things to consider when choosing an agency.
LDSFS recently changed their adoption process, mainly they reinstated the infertility requirement and now have a 3 child limit. They also only do online portfolios, meaning the birth mom has to go online to see anything. I really love this new method for showing portfolios, it may seem more daunting but it puts all the responsibility on the birth mom to find the family she wants and hopefully eliminates any chance of bias on the case workers part.
We adopted through Idaho Youth Ranch, who recently merged with A New Beginning. Before we settled on IYR however we went to several LDSFS meetings and I was always impressed with the program directors positive attitude towards all of the other adoption agency's in the state.

Traci said...

Makes perfect sense! Thanks for answering my question!


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