Tuesday, January 4, 2011

the agency question

A few months ago I posted a question here. It's a forum for families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting a child from China.

This was what I wanted to know:

We are thinking/almost ready/I'm pretty sure going to start our 2nd adoption soon. Although I LOVED our previous agency, I am curious to know what other agencies are highly recommended. Please pm w/your recommendations. I'm noticing a somewhat significant difference in costs w/a few agencies. It's hard to match up fees exactly when comparing agencies but from what I can tell they can vary by about $5,000 or more. I'm looking for a lower costing one but don't want to sacrifice service/expertise/communication availability, etc.

I got quite a lot of responses and even more personal emails asking me to share the info that I received. I had planned on cutting/pasting the responses I got but I just never got around to it. Which, by the way, happens to be a common theme in my life by the way. Not. Getting. Around. To. It. Thus the reason Anna's baby book abruptly stops about the time she started crawling and the reason why Nathan doesn't even have a baby book. And it's also the reason why after living in our home for 5 years I have no curtains for 80% of our windows. I've even talked myself into believing that I don't like curtains and don't need them. But the fact is that I do like them. I just have never gotten around to it. But I digress. Speaking of...I think I may change the name of my blog to that. "I digress". What do ya think?! It's kind of how I talk in real life too.

Back to the regularly scheduled program...

Here are the recommendations as well as a few cautionary emails I received. Feel free to comment below if you would like to add any others or extra info.

America World Adoption Agency (AAWA):

*We had a great experience, however I am not sure where they fall on the financial end. We were transferred to them from our small in state agency during the slowdown when our original agency closed. They called all hours with possible referrals and stayed late when we were reviewing sn files. I was impressed with their sn program. They also did an excellent job of counseling us through a couple of referrals we were not able to take on. I don't have to tell you this was very difficult, and they made a point of talking us through the situation. We had a wonderful travel experience.


*My agency is BAAS. The china coordinator is the best!!! I have also heard fantastic things about Madison and Small world as well. I feel like for the special need program the smaller agencies are doing much better working into the night to make matches and all that good stuff. If you use one of these agencies i just don't think you can go wrong.

*We/ve adopted from China 4 times and have used 4 different agencies--go with BAAS (Bay Area Adoption Service). You will be very pleased with Xiaoqing, the China coordinator. She checks the computer from her home office to see if any new kid's files have been added by CCAA--new kids are added all the time, apart from the big shared lists that come out. That's how she found our daughter. We woke to an excited e-mail that said "I think I've found your daughter!" She was exactly what we hoped for! While she is looking for your child, you will also be given access to view the shared list via password protected site, and agency list too, I'm sure, now that the program has changed.

CAWLI (China Adoption With Love):

*Very highly recommended, great reputation, ethical, small, good service, low fees. We are using them again.

*We were 100% satisfied.


*I just came back from China last week adopting our first child, and I will tell you this: the one agency I kept hearing about over and over again was CCAI. Everyone RAVED about them.

*We are using CCAI and we love them so far!

*We are LID 5/29/06 with CCAI- NSN program. Many of my friends have completed a NSN and more so a SN adoption with CCAI. NOT ONE PERSON has a major complaint and most have none. I would highly recommend them- they have been nothing but responsible and ethical- during this whole wait. I do believe that it has been hard for all agencies to get through this slow down- but they have done a great job.

*We are with CCAI...I LOVE them. They have been beyond fantastic. I NEVER wait more than 24 hours for a return email (communication is a big deal for me...) I really can't say enough good about them.

Children's Hope International:

*We really liked our agency - Children's Hope International. In fact, we will be a partner family with them and host an information meeting in our home this Fall. We were pleased with all of the organization of our referral and our trip.



*Love love LOVE FTIA. My mom used them when adopting my sister in 2000. We used them in adopting our daughter in 2005. Used them, again, when we signed up for Nepal. They were super honest w/ us about the program and we soon realized it was not for us. We left that program. Ended up moving to the Taiwan program of another agency. If we were going to China, though, no doubt that we'd be back with FTIA. They held our hand the entire way and continue to keep up w/ us all these years later.

Holt International:
*They were fabulous.


*We love, love, love Lifeline! I can't imagine there being a better agency!

*We are going through Lifeline Adoption (http://www.lifelineadoption.org/). They are wonderful! We started the process in February and were DTC on 8/20/2010! Lifeline has a track record of matching their clients within 1-2 months of being LID. Another agency that is good is Madison Adoption. They match quickly as well.

Living Hope:

*We loved our agency.

Madison Adoption Agency:

*We are on our 2nd adoption and LOVE LOVE LOVE our agency this time around! We are using Madison- they are a bit more than others I think, but really wonderful, amazing, hard working women who will go to bat for you to help make families. They are what happens when an agency is run with their hearts, not with their pocketbooks!

*They really are awesome people. I hear so many horror stories from friends about their agencies. Madison really is in it for the kids.

*LOVED our agency...Madison Adoption Associates

*We are with Madison Adoption Associates and can not recommend them enough! They are beyond fabulous. Seriously! This is our 3rd adoption and 3rd agency, and we will never switch from Madison. I had an urgent home study question on a Saturday afternoon, and emailed Diana the SN coordinator with my question, fully expecting to have to wait until Monday for a response. She emailed me back on a SATURDAY NIGHT a 11 PM her time with the answer! She is amazing! It was started by Aleda Madison, and she is now joined by her daughter Diana and a few others. They don't just do this for a job - they are adoptive families themselves. Aleda adopted two children and Diana and her husband have a dossier in China right now. They live this stuff.

Small World Adoption:

*We absolutely LOVE our agency -- Small World Adoption. Their web site is www.swa.net They are very proactive with matching families off the shared list (wait time is usually less than one month for a referral), are professional and knowledgeable, will do all your paper certifications and authentications if you want them to, and their staff in China is F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.! We are in the process for our third adoption with them (sixth China adoption over all). I would never use another agency at this point.

*We are using Small World and I love them! They have been excellent. Upfront and honest.Kind. I think, there are a few who have slightly lower agency fees, but they have never once asked us for money. Never. Will absolutely use them again.


*My agency was wasatch adoptions. The only thing I didn't like was how they did travel arrangement. They have someone in CA doing it and there was always a break in communication.

Here are are a few "cautionary" emails I received:

*Whichever agency you choose, please stay away from Adoption Ark. I beg you. They do not do China but many other programs.

*We have not been happy with CCAI...chinese children adoption international....they have great reviews...but we feel they are not working for us, not aggressive, and have done things that are unforgivable.....we still aren't matched...after 18 months.

*We just got back from China for our adoption and I won't be using our agency again. Great Wall China Adoptions for these reason. Very Very slow on returning phone calls or emails during the referral stage(sometime at least a week!)I don't think that they work very hard trying to match people. I think they are one of the more expensive agencies in regards to travel. They tried to charge me quadruple rate for the train to Hong Kong. They were good in the dossier phase and the travel coordinator was easy to deal with and I thought our guides were good. But I know there are better agencies out there.

*My first agency was Americans Adopting Orphans and they are only suitable for families who will happily sit blindly by and never ask a single question and not doubt it when your agency says "it will happen sometime..."- they HIGHLY discouraged communication between families and on Internet forums, and HATED when we asked questions that showed we understood the process. seriously, they are horrid...stay far far away from them......

Our agency recommendations:

I will close this by adding that we used All God's Children for Caleb's adoption. We were actually very happy with them and I would highly recommend them especially if you've never adopted before. They pretty much hold your hand through every process. There were just a few reasons why we even looked into other agencies to begin with. AGCI's fees were a bit higher than some others. And I was looking for an agency that had more connections among the families who were in the process of adopting. AGCI seemed to have a large number of families that were adopting from Ethiopia and not so many from China. I was looking for an agency that really specialized in China adoptions, in particular special needs adoptions.

We ended up choosing Madison Adoption Agency this time. And I will say that one of the nicer things about them is that they mostly communicate through their private yahoo group and email. If I have a question, I send an email or post a question on the yahoo group and I get a response within minutes every time. They have a very small office staff which I like. If we call we are never directed to voicemail or put on hold or shuffled through some large phone system. It feels like you're calling a family member. And ditto to all of the above positive comments. They have been wonderful and I'd highly recommend them!


Faye said...

Thank you so much for compiling these comments. They were very interesting to read. I would only caution other readers that each adoption experience is individual and there are so very many variables that can affect an adoption experience.

We are in the process of completing our second adoption (we are currently waiting on TA) and we are using Madison Adoption Associates. We have been pleased, thus far, and yes, they are expensive. For our first adoption, from China, we used Americans Adopting Orphans. We were extremely pleased with the level of service they provided and, no, we did not just sit back and let things happen! We were extremely involved in the process, asked lots and lots of questions and got lots of timely answers and advice. I really liked the fact that AAO was on the west coast and we are located on the east coast so the 3 hour time difference meant I could contact the office when I was home at night. Additionally, AAO's different levels of "do-it-yourself" services meant I could save some money and have some control over the adoption process if I wanted it. So I thought they were great. Just thought I'd I put in another point of view on AAO.
Good luck with your next adoption!

nina said...

We used Great Wall adoption for 2 adoptions and I would not use them again. I had to call and call and call to get an answer. Also, their staff has a high turnover. When we started having problems with our 2nd adoption the support was non existent. They never called to check on us in China.

Lori Printy said...

Thank you so much for putting this info together. Sadly I have to agree with the comments on Great Wall. There are exceptions-some of their people are gems- but overall this agency leaves a lot to be desired. Everyone in our travel group was fed up with them by the time we left China. Of the 8 families in our group NONE said they would use Great Wall again.

China Dreams said...

Hi Julie,
Just saw your email on the beijing group and wanted to say welcome, and best of luck. We seem to be operating in reverse. Our first adoption was from Beijing, but our second which we are working on now is through Madison. So we may have spoken online through that group.

Kendra said...

So glad you chose madison. If we adopt again that is who we will use. Right now we are with Gladney and LOVE them but their fees are on the higher end.

Jenny Lynn said...

thanks so much for this! working on picking our agency now and have been overwhelmed. this was super helpful!!