Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How We Chose Our Agency


Originally posted April 2011:

If you’ve been following our family, you know that we were trying to figure out how to adopt from India for several years.  It was so difficult to get the right information, or even figure out who to ask about certain things. I can’t count how many hours I spent making phone calls, sending emails, reading website and after website of legalese.  
When we realized that India was not going to happen, I was so mentally exhausted from running all the circles. I told Paul, “I just want to pick an agency and fall into their hands and let them tell me what to do!”  So that’s what we decided to do. 
We have quite a few friends that live overseas and have completed adoptions while abroad.  So we decided we’d write them and ask them where they adopted from, how they did it, what agency they used, etc.  Whatever the consensus was, if there was one, is what we would do. 
There was a resounding consensus.  The vast majority of the replies came back: “International Adoption Guides!”  They all highly recommended them.  They said they are great with working with expats abroad.  They have a paperwork service that collects all your documents for you!  Ah, I was sold when I heard that!  I did some thorough research online, and we both felt like we were ready to apply.  
As for our home study, that was a little more complicated.  IAG recommended two different agencies, one in Germany and one in China.  The guy in Germany has very different parenting philosophies from us, which prevented us from working together.  The lady in China was really busy and booked out quite a ways, so we would have had to wait quite awhile for her to come here.  Through some friends in India that are beginning an adoption process, we learned of another agency called Adopt Abroad, Inc.  They are in Pennsylvania, but have a social worker contracted in Bahrain.  We contacted her, and it just worked out for her to come and do our home study as well as this other family’s on the same trip, and we can split her travel costs!  Yippee!  In addition, her husband is a pastor, and she has lived abroad for 11 years.  We were so excited to know she is a believing sister and would be understanding about our life abroad, our motives for adopting, and our religious beliefs and commitment to Scripture.  
We see God’s hand of blessing in all these small details, smoothing the path for us as we walk down this road!  I am enjoying every little twist and turn, cherishing it all, knowing what a great blessing is waiting for us at the end.  

Update:  (6/18/2013)
Now having been home for a year with our daughter, I feel I can confidently speak regarding our experience with International Adoption Guides.  We found many things to be a bit off in the way our case was handled.  We lost a lot of confidence in their truthfulness.  Several time I was told things by the director, Jim Harding, that just didn't square up for either me or Paul.  When pressed for more details, we were always told "to just trust us."  It became increasingly harder to do.  All we were told about our daughter initially by IAG was that she was abandoned, the date she was found (possible date), and a town name, with an original orphanage name, and the name of the man who found her.  Doing a quick google search with this information, I was able to find out the man who found her actually worked at the orphanage she came from.  Hmmm... I confronted IAG about this.  Jim said not to worry about it.  I felt like he acted like he had known that (of course he would have, they work closely with that orphanage).  He just didn't think to tell us that.  *I* think that's kind of a nice detail, maybe even a little important??  At that point, I was pretty sure they were not to be implicitly trusted.  I wanted to know more.  We hired a private investigator to see if he could find out anymore.  The story stopped at that orphanage employee.  However, he did find out from that man that he found two babies next to each other that night, not just our daughter.  Both girls were about the same age.  IAG was referred both girls, and in turn referred them separately to families waiting in their program.  Neither family was told these girls were found together.  It is possible these girls are related, maybe even twins.  No testing was done.  No information was given to the families. (This could, of course, be because they *knew* the girls weren't related, because they actually know where they came from... that could be even worse, because in that case, their origins are being covered up).  When confronted with this information, Jim Harding told me that he didn't think it was relevant, or something along those lines.

We cannot in good conscience ever recommend anyone to work with IAG.  There were many other red flags, as well as, to us,  questionable ethics going on there. Please believe me when I say, I would not trust IAG to tell the whole truth, or anything close to the truth.  I have heard from too many other moms with stories much worse than ours.  Listen to the other families.  Just because some get through the process with International Adoption Guides with a good experience, does not mean our bad experiences are not true.  Of course, many adoptions are legitimate and above board. And of course, every agency will have families with bad experiences.  It has just become apparent to me that IAG seems to have PATTERNS and HABITS of questionable choices and practices, in my opinion.  With any agency you are working with, think very critically about answers you are being given to your questions.  Don't just drink the Kool-Aid, please.  THINK!  Question!  Don't be in a hurry to believe something that's convenient for you.


  1. Please know that you are not alone, Megan. My family, too, went through a horrible and corrupt experience with IAG. I know others who believe they have had positive experiences, but have not hired investigators to find out the truth behind how their children came into the system. I worry that they are in denial, and I worry about the consequences for their children once they are old enough to ask tough questions. It is remarkably sad to say, but I feel that the international adoption system is broken, and corruption is the rule rather than the exception. I am sorry that you have gone through this.

  2. I understand that there is corruption in the international adoption world – but I would not say this is the rule of thumb. We adopted form Korea and we know exactly why our girls were given up, the circumstances surrounding the relinquishment, the opinions of the extended family, the health history of the parents, their education, their employment, etc… We even correspond with one of our birth mothers somewhat regularly. We send photos and letters to both birth mothers so they can watch their girls grow up. I can speak confidently that Korea is NOT corrupt. I will also say that Korea is a first world nation and so the laws, safe guards, and corruption is better controlled through laws that are actually followed. I know this is not always the case in other countries, so LOTS of research is obviously required, and even then, it is still very difficult. (As you well know)

    I know a wonderful Christian couple who worked in Guatemala. They had a church, health center, and orphanage there. People who adopted through them could be assured that these babies were relinquished without any blurred lines of corruption. This wasn’t the case with all Guatemala adoptions which is why you cannot adopt there any longer. It makes me sad that the ethical people and organizations get eclipsed by the corruption. Its always the kids who pay the price – and live their whole lives without families. All adoptions are messy. None of them go smoothly. It doesn’t matter if you adopt domestically or internationally – but it is beautiful to kiddos raised as sons & daughters in families. Let’s not lose sight of this, even though corruption exists – there are ethical people/organizations striving to help kids find families.

  3. We adopted our son from Ethiopia through IAG back in 2007, and were told the same thing as you, except they supposedly didn't even know the name of the person who found our son and took him to the orphanage in Tigre.We naively believed the excuses they gave for not knowing this information, and didn't know how to dig deeper to find out more about our son's past. Now I wish we had pushed for more answers. It kills me to see the disappointment in my son's eyes every time he asks about his birth mom and I'm not able to give him any information.

    I would love to get in touch with you and find out more about the private detective you hired. Unfortunately, I'm sure it's far too late for us to find out now if our son's birth mother is still alive and if he has any siblings. It makes me sick to think that IAG was so corrupt, and that we were naive enough to trust them.