Second hand lions

I’ve been thinking about the world of international adoption lately. This isn’t just Russia here. I’m talking about all of international adoption. China, Vietnam, Guatemala, Russia too. It seems that they are all shrouded in some sort of negativity. In particular the agencies that facilitate international adoptions are taking a bit hit on the negativity scale. It used to be that if you were careful and did your research you could actually find the good and ethical ones out there. Nowadays it feels like there is bad stuff written about every agency everywhere. Who are the good ones? How do you know? Can you go by longevity, reputation, hearsay alone?

Jen got me thinking about this more and more. You read so many negative stories out there about how so and so didn’t like their agency, but more often than not people have become so afraid to mention their agency by name. Fear factor and all. (Hell, we all seem to be part of some big blogger witness protection program and don’t even mention our own names.) But as she puts it, last someone checked we still have our 1st amendment right. If you tell the truth about your process there is no reason you can’t be open and honest. Hell, we are afraid to mention our names in the presence of the internets. Anonymity is not something I have ever been concerned with on the internet. Sure, I don’t post with my real name. I don’t post my son’s name or my husband’s name, but that isn’t out of fear or protecting privacy. I do it to be clever.

Back to the original subject. When we went through our months of agency searches I told myself that first hand knowledge was what I would go by. Statements like, “I used so and so agency and I had a fantastic/terrible/horrific experience.” I used this method to whittle down the list of agencies that I wanted to talk to. Sounds simple right. It is.

Ever heard of a game called Telephone? That is basically what second hand information is. Something passed from person to person until the original thought gets lost. People interpret information in their own way and I guarantee you that you can’t tell someone else’s story word for word and know the ins and outs of every excruciating detail. You may be familiar with my story and told it to a friend or twelve, but I know for a fact that you don’t know everything. That’s because I haven’t told you 100% of it. I’ve told you the important parts and for all intents and purposes that is what matters.

What gets me the most is when our story gets used in a capacity that is false. More than once have we been made the example. I’ve had people link our original blog and said that this is what is wrong with Russian adoption. I’ve had people use my story as an example of why not to use my agency and posted so on message boards.

My story is just that. MY STORY. Never once have I said, “I know Sally and she was with a really shitty agency and you shouldn’t use them.” Not once have I said, “ohh, I heard bad things from my friend’s sister’s brother in-law’s dog and they had a terrible experience in Vietnam. You shouldn’t go there.”

What I have said is that I used Alaska International Adoptions and they rocked! I had a long and crappy adoption process. Not one single solitary minute of that wait was the fault of my agency. Never ever ever.

Be careful of what you say but say your truth. Stick to your story because that is the one you know. You owe others that follow the courtesy.

16 Comment

  1. Nancy says: Reply

    Amen Sister! I am so tired of reading people’s blogs where they bitch about an agency and how it treated people, when they didn’t use the agency and the story has nothing to do with them.

    We both got the good agency AIA rocks!

  2. I second that amen! But I’m an Alliance cheerleader 🙂 …we can still be friends, right?

  3. Tricia says: Reply


  4. Well said. My first agency has a clause in their contract that states you can’t publicly (on internet or on web boards) state any problems or issues you’re having with the agency. It’s a load of crap, if you ask me. I never posted their name because of it. Much of what happened with my losing Peanut was 100% out of their control — accreditation, the patronat program, etc. But they held culpability and they lie to clients as easily as adding 2 + 2. I would give my opinion about my agency if asked, but I also know of people who had good experiences and LOVE them. So I know my experience was likely atypical.

    Your blogger witness protection program comment is hilarious. How true, how true. I couldn’t post real names of the kids I was considered for, nor can I of Slugger because they are still in foster care. But I changed my name slightly for a touch of anonymity. There’s some freaky, freaky people out there on the net!

  5. Lauri says: Reply

    Great Post

    When I was researching agencies I wanted the real scoop… I would ask what the best and worst qualities about each agency was…. if a family could not give a worst quality then I was leery…I would steer clear of those
    ” My agency was the bestest ever” reports.

    Also I never payed much attention to outdated ” I adopted in 1999″ reviews, or once removed feedback. I love the agency we used…. I can provide positive feedback and I also think they can improve and will share that as well when people are seeking my feedback.

  6. Jenn says: Reply

    This post is truly a snapshot of “adoption world” right now.
    We, too, had an abnormal process and I know for a fact that it upset our agency as much as it did us. Imagine my outrage when I arrived home to find that our travel group was the talk of the boards. Setting people straight does no good, either.
    I’ve always tried to tell PAP’s to please get it straight from the horses mouth, don’t go by what the rumor is. Find a rumor, then investigate it…don’t take it for fact!

  7. Lea says: Reply

    Our experience must have been a bit unusual because, except for five months of added waiting due to accreditation issues, our process went like clock work and we had no complaints with our agency at all. Our experience with them was wonderful, although they would be the first to tell a client that everyone’s experience is different.

  8. Wendy says: Reply

    You said it! We have one good agency experience and one horrific agency experience. I know of people who used our bad agency but had a good experience, and vice versa. There are so many things that are out of control for the agencies. The sign of a truly good/great agency is not how they perform in a routine case, but how they perform when the going gets tough. Of course, another sign of a bad agency is when the people involved are arrested on federal racketeering and money laundering charges, and the owner wants her ankle tether removed so she can go back to work as a stripper. Unbelievable, but true! Hah!

  9. I agree with you about the negativity. In the end, Frank and I had narrowed our list down to a 2 agencies. The initial narrowing of the list was after hearing first hand stories, as you mentioned. Next, we called both agencies to get a feel for the people we’d be working with. In the end, we chose our agency based on our gut instinct. Maybe that is dangerous or uninformed as compared to some people’s way of chosing their agency, but we’re comfortable with our choice. In the end that is what matters. By the way, I would tell those people using your story you don’t want it being used in than manner if you aren’t comfortable. It’s your story and they should respect your feelings.

  10. Tam says: Reply

    Amen! I love my agency (Guatemala) and start sounding like an ad for them when asked for feedback. I honestly received no negative feedback on them when I was researching them before signing with them. I consider that very lucky because I’ve seen some horror stories about other agencies posted on the message board I belong to. I always wonder how much of it is actual fact…

  11. I totally agree, first hand info is so important. But like you said, the problem is that so many AP’s are afraid of lawsuits or whatever so they don’t post or reply for requests of info and they have (really bad) stories that need to be heard. I just wish there were a way to deal with the agencies who are unethical to the core – if we could, I think that would remove a lot of the general media negativity we all live under.

  12. Rhonda says: Reply

    Yeah, great post. Its such an emotional process, and while there’s bad agencies out there, I think sometimes the agencies are simply the nearest target to vent frustrations. Its a process where you have absolutely no control, so any horror story freaks everyone out. I think its best to go into the process knowing there’s going to be glitches, knowing its risky, and doing your homework on your agency.

    The best story that AIA could get is one like yours, where things didn’t go your way and they handled it really well. Because that’s really the bottom line of how good your agency is. Anyone can handle a smooth adoption, but its how they step up under bad circumstances.

  13. DebiP says: Reply

    AMEN Sista!!…rocks…who said shameless plug weren’t allowed!!

  14. I think it is kind of like getting angry at your waitress because the cook didn’t do a good job. A lot of agencies are blasted because of things beyond their control. However, I do think that some agencies are better than others when it comes to personal service.

  15. Jenni says: Reply

    Well said! We were very lucky with our second agency (Adoption Options) because they were on top of things, open and honest about the process (and potential delays), and got us through our adoption without any real hitches.

    Our first agency, however, was the exact opposite. When doing research, we could find nothing negative about them (and believe me, I looked)! Since leaving that agency and joining Adoption Options, we’ve heard plenty of negative feedback – it’s as if by experiencing the agency first-hand, a veil was lifted, and all of a sudden, people were willing to talk honestly about their experience (both the good and the bad).

    I hate that people feel scared to discuss their agency and adoption openly. I have a link to Adoption Options on our blog, and they have a link on their blog to mine. Secrecy only breeds distrust and negativity. It also leads to the secondhand stories you mentioned in your post.

  16. kate says: Reply

    Your remark about being in the witness protection program really hit the mark! When I’ve posted comments on FRUA that my agency sees (harmless, innocuous ones like what the weather is here) I get comments from them. I’ve changed my posting name there and shut up. I don’t use their name or my last one. I don’t even have a blog roll because I got followed to someone else’s blog and where my comment was commented on! It’s crazy. So far they haven’t found MY blog, and I hope to keep it that way.

    Once I’m finished, though, all bets are off.

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