Okay. This is just a short tip, but a good one. If you’re working on an international adoption and you have the option of using a dossier service, do it. That process can be a real nightmare and it helps to have someone who’s experienced it helping you pull everything together. We’ve been blessed to work with KBS Dossiers and been thrilled with the results. Kate Sawyer held our hand and cajoled us when necessary to get all the right documents with all the right signatures to all the right places at all the right times and did it with amazing alacrity. I still can’t believe how easy she made all of that seem.
Like anything else in life there are pluses and minuses to working with a dossier service. They do streamline the paperwork process quite a bit, but they also charge you a pretty decent amount of money to do it. Not thousands, but definitely in the hundreds. For us, when we were trying to decide we looked at the time it would take us to get all of our paperwork authenticated correctly and it made total sense to pay someone else to do it. We’re not super-organized and we don’t do paperwork all that well. We also had our doubts on whether or not we could figure out all the ins and outs of all the governmental agencies involved and get the right paper to the right people. It just seemed overly daunting. So, even though we’re having to watch every nickel and dime throughout this process, it made sense to pay someone else to do it. Having gone through it, I’m so glad we did.
Maybe you’re one of those uber-organized DIY types and feel up to the challenge of cutting through miles of red tape. If so, go for it. If not, hire someone like Kate. You’ll be so glad you did.
A good friend of mine from Austin, Lee Rothenflue texted me the other day asking what advice I would give to a couple he knew who was considering adopting from Ethiopia. While we don’t know all the ins and outs yet, we have learned quite a bit in our adoption process and I was able to pass along a couple of tips that I thought would be helpful. It also got me thinking that there might be other folks out there who would benefit from what we’ve learned. So we’re adding a new category to the blog that will include tips and lessons we’ve learned through our own process. Hopefully it will be helpful to other prospective adoptive families. Please note that these tips will mostly apply to people adopting internationally as we’ve never adopted domestically.
One of the most important tips we could ever pass along is to find a good agency. International adoptions are extremely complicated with multiple governmental agencies requiring different paperwork and certifications before allowing an adoption to go through. There are many issues that can come up during international adoptions and you need to have an agency that knows how to navigate all the bureaucracies and red tape that go along with the process.
Obviously you can Google “adoption agency” and you’ll get a ton of results. Of course you don’t really know whether any of these agencies are good or not. It’s better to look up organizations that help adoptive parents and see who they recommend. For example, the Abba Fund, a group that provides grants and loans for adoptive parents has a great list of agencies on their site – click here to get it. Go through their list and look for others. Read about those agencies and see which ones are licensed in your state. When you get a good list together, narrow it down to a handful that you want to learn more about.
When you’ve narrowed down your list of agencies here are a few things to consider.
- How old is the agency? We wouldn’t use an agency that’s brand new. Most people learn from their mistakes. You don’t want to be their training project.
- How old is their program in the country from which you’re adopting? The same rule applies here. There are many agencies that have been around for a long time but are new to international adoption or to the country you’re adopting from. Again, you don’t want to be their case study as they launch a new program.
- Are they Hague Accredited? If not, you should avoid them. Don’t take any chances.
- What do other adoptive parents say about them? Really there’s no better reference for an agency than people who’ve already used them. Ask around and find friends and friends of friends who’ve adopted and ask them about their agency. People love to talk about this stuff and it’s easy to find all you need to know from people who’ve already done it.
We hope this is helpful. If you’re struggling with choosing an agency or anything else about adoption, please leave a comment. We would love to help in any way we can.