It’s worth telling the story of how we chose our adoption agency.
Living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our city is home to a couple of the biggest international adoption agencies in the world, as well as a handful of smaller ones.
From what I’ve heard, most people call up an agency they have heard of or stumbled across, and jump right into their process. Sometimes they back out or switch to another agency if they don’t get a good vibe from the first one. Some do a little comparison based on cost or country expertise.
But I’ve yet to find someone who put in the hours of research we did. Better Business Bureau, Google searches, government websites, agency website, numerous conversations with couples who have adopted or are in the process … we shopped around.
Yet somehow we never ended up using one of the local agencies. Part of it did have to do with the vibe thing. You are investing a lot of time, money and a lot of yourself into the process. If you don’t have a good sense that an agency or its representative is responsive or knowledgeable or has your best interests in mind, then you are tainted. Kristi got that vibe on a couple of phone calls.
Another one of the agencies was being affected by the difficult fundraising environment that followed the economic downturn in the US. So they were passing costs onto the adoptive parents – sometimes with little notice – and seemed a little strained overall. Not a good confidence builder for such a long-term relationship.
Then, we found few large agencies that were experienced in Ethiopia. It’s still a relatively new program and not under the Hague Convention for adoptive countries. After hearing stories from people who have tried to adopt from a small agency, or a lawyer, or going it alone, we didn’t dare take the risk of being devestated by fraud or failure in the adoption process. We wanted an organization with strong on-the-ground experience.
So we stumbled across All God’s Children International (AGCI), based out of Oregon, and we found that they had a representative based in the Grand Rapids area because so many people in Michigan were adopting through their programs.
If you remember our earlier post, there seemed to be all these signs that were telling us we were on the right track. Well, first we found that AGCI had a transition home in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Here they cared for the children as soon as they came into the program. Nobody else seemed to have that level of control and quality.
Then we found out the name of the orphanages (there is another AGCI one on the ground in Guatemala). It’s named Hannah’s Hope, after the daughter of the founder of AGCI. Most of you know that Hannah is our daughter’s name too – our firstborn.
The founder of AGCI wrote a book about their adoption story and how they created All God’s Children. It’s pretty dramatic, and talks about a lot of moments where they felt led by God and saw little miracles along the way to assure them that they were on the right track. It’s quite a beautiful story actually, especially how some of their setbacks and fustrations become victories in the end.
So after all the research, and the qualifications, and the back story, we finally settled on All God’s Children. And we got a great vibe right away … which is maybe all we should’ve been looking for in the first place!