Sunday, August 1, 2010

How we started

I read a bunch about adoption online, and I found a couple of local information sessions to go to. One was on international adoption, and one was about adopting from foster care. After the sessions we talked, and we both were more interested in international adoption. It seemed far more likely that we would be matched with a toddler, and one who was fairly healthy.
Then we started thinking about countries. We both were looking at sub-Saharan Africa, because we’ve both lived there before (Namibia for me, Senegal for T). We had to rule out most countries because they have a five-year marriage requirement, and we’ve only been married for three years. We started thinking about Ethiopia and getting excited about what we learned. For one, we would get to meet our child’s birth family. We didn’t know that was even possible in international adoption, and we feel it would be very, very important for our child. I also love how ancient a country Ethiopia is (I’m Greek, being obsessed with antiquity is required). And all the descriptions I read about the orphanages sounded positive.

At the same time we were learning about countries in other parts of the world and realizing they wouldn’t work for us. Many of them have the five-year requirement; many only make older children available for international adoption; many only place special needs children; some have religious requirements. We kept coming back to Ethiopia, and it felt right.

Then we had to figure out which agency would be best to work with. Early on I had read some articles about unethical practices in international adoption, so we were really, really concerned about working with an agency that was transparent and completely committed to ethical adoptions. From the Ethiopian embassy, I got a list of all the American adoption agencies registered in Ethiopia (there were 22 of them). I crossed out any that were not Hague-accredited, and all the Christian agencies. Again, nothing against Christians, but I see adoption as joining a community of adopting families, and I simply cannot relate to someone who thinks the creator of the entire universe has a personal interest in their adoption. I also crossed out the agencies that were on the west coast. I figured if our agency organizes events and meetings, as many agencies do, we would be more likely to attend if they were on the east coast, where we are. Then I started reading about the remaining agencies in online forums and message boards.
Useful groups to join: and

Finally we had narrowed our choices down to two agencies: Wide Horizons for Children (based in MA) and Gladney (based in TX but with an office in NC). Both had very positive reviews and good reputations. Two things pushed us over the edge to WHFC - 1. they had responded to a survey on and Gladney had not 2. they responded to a list of questions I sent them about ethical concerns and Gladney did not.

Since WHFC is in Massachusetts we also had to find a local agency to do our home study. There were two secular partner agencies in NC listed on the WHFC website so again I researched them online and Carolina Adoption Services was clearly the better one.

So… we have applied to both agencies and that’s where we are now.

1 comment:

  1. Hi - just saw the link to your blog on the big Ethiopian adoption yahoo group and had to click when I saw the title - I love it! I would also describe myself as agnostic, and find the heavy Christianity slant of most of the adoption world to be...a little bizarre. I also chose WHFC for my adoption from Ethiopia, have been home now for about seven months with a little girl who just turned three. I think you made a good choice of agencies!