Friday, December 15, 2006

I Sounded so "Blah" Before! LOL!

[First, notice the new blog title and description?! =-)]

Okay, so I realized in my last post that I sounded pretty "ho hum" about our plans to adopt from Ethiopia. In reality I am SUPER excited!!!! It's kind of ironic. When we first began the adoption process back in Febuary 2006 I really thought we might adopt from Ethiopia. But the fees seemed so much higher and the thought of adopting from a country that not many people go to (where the need is so great) was very appealing to me. Now--after our adventures in trying to adopt from Liberia and Ghana the quite stable but a little more expensive Ethiopia program just sounds pretty perfect--even if we have to take it slow.

We have possibly already hit a bump in the road though. [I'm telling ya people--adoption luck and I don't go together!] When I spoke to AAI they said that they may not work with us because we are currently in process to adopt Bright. They had me leave a message for someone who will call me back to discuss things. I understand the policy, but the reality is that Bright will have almost definitely been home for 6 months by the time we could bring home an Ethiopian baby through their program. :0/

If you know me at all you know I'm not going to waste my adrenalin high just sitting around all day waiting for someone to call! So instead I spent the morning calling every other adoption agency currently licensed in Ethiopia (except for Illien, Wide Horizons, and Children's Home Adoption and Family Services). Here's the run down for those that might be interested...

International Adoption Guides:
Total Fees: $8500
Time Frame: 4-6 months from dossier to travel

Told Alisa that we wouldn't be working with them
because of the fee lump at the beginning and got a very kind email back
immediately saying that she was disappointed but to let her know if they could
ever be of service. Wrote her back to let her know that AAI might not work
with us and she might have to put up with me after all--got another quick email
back saying she would love that. I've heard some questionable things about
how this program is going but I absolutely ADORE Alisa Blevins.

Adoption Avenues:
Total Fees: $11,500
Time Frame: 2 months from dossier to travel (?????)

This agency's website put me off because it's written
in poor English, but I called them anyway. I spoke to Radu (the male
director) who was very friendly. He is a non-native English speaker, which
explains the poor English on the website. =-) Radu seemed VERY eager to
work wtih us, but also made no bones about how it was all about the money.
He told me that he has 6 people working for him in Ethiopia that need adoptions
to happen so they can get fed--so referrals come very quickly for him.
Hmmm...quick referrals always sound nice, but his workers being motivated solely
by the money that adoptions bring doesn't. Radu says that referrals are
happening within 1 month, and travel is happening within 1 month later.
Just too many red flags for me here, even though I've read some nice reviews
about this agency's services.

Christian World Adoption:
Total Fees: Not sure. $5350 to the agency but don't know Ethiopia fee yet
Time Frame: Don't know

I called this very large agency and got a nice
receptionist who forwarded me to Director of Intake--Carol Nelson. Ms.
Nelson didn't answer so I left her a message. No call back yet.

Children's House International:
Total Fees: $13,500

Time Frame: 1-4 months for referral; 2-4 months for travel (according to website)

I called the main office who told me I needed
to call Lisa Anderson in Louisiana to speak about Ethiopia. I got her
voice mail, which said she is the India Coordinator. Oops! That kind
of says how new this program is for the agency if the coordinator hasn't put
"Ethiopia" in her voice mail message yet. I left Lisa a message and
haven't heard back yet.

Adoption Advocates International:
Total Fees: $8750 (for our family--sliding scale)
Time Frame: 12-18 months from application to travel

I can't remember the person I spoke with. I just
remember that it felt pretty business-like. She answered the basic
questions I asked (and already knew the answer to) but when she heard that we
were in process for Bright in Ghana her tone changed. She sent me to
voicemail for someone who could discuss things with me. No call back as of

Total Fees: Not sure. $5800 to Gladney but don't know Ethiopia fee yet.
Time Frame: Don't know

I called Gladney, listened to the automated message
(turn off), chose "2" for Central Time Zone" and then got a lady's
voicemail. I left a message but no call back so far.

Last but not least...

Dove International Adoptions:
Total Fees: $12,100

Time Frame: 4-5 months from dossier to referral; 1-2 months from court date to travel (time from referral to court date varies according to child's legal status)

I called and originally got a receptions or
intake person that didn't seem so knowledgeable about the program. She
just wanted to send me the packet. =-) Eventually she tranferred me over
to Krista, whom I LOVED! Kristi is so down to earth and has adopted 2
children from Ethiopia through Dove's program. Very impressed with
her. Anyway, she said their program is going very well. The work
with TouKoul Orphanage in Addis, which brings in children from 18 different
intake centers across the country. One thing I liked about Krista is how
she kept telling me how things are going "NOW" and was always sure to mention
how unpredictable international adoption is. That's what families need to
hear rather than the typical "blow sunshine up your skirt" mentality of some
other agencies.

So...I don't really know where we stand on which agency we will be using now. Luckily, there seem to be several good choices, if we can just gather the finances. One thought that occurs to me is that with a program like Dove, we could save the money and start the process and still possibly bring home our baby sooner than we would with AAI.
One other thing to share with you... I requested a refund from Lois of the money that we had already paid for a second referral. I haven't heard back from her and hope she doesn't take it too hard.

We sure appreciate your prayers about which agency to go with, and about us getting a refund from LVI without a big hoopla.