Being a prospective adoptive parent requires you to place all of your hopes and dreams into the hands of your adoption agency.  They ultimately determine what information is shared about you and how often.  We need to do what they say and when they say it (and pay what they say and when they say it) regardless of any of our own personal feelings.  This is our path, but it is not an easy one.  And we have become increasingly concerned about our agency’s attention to detail and overall competency in this process.

A number of months ago, we became aware of one of the more seasoned social workers adopting a child through our agency (her employer) from one of the birth mothers she was directly counselling.  I still cannot make sense of how this fit with her professional code of ethics.  I question how the agency even allowed this social worker to work predominately with prospective birth mothers when she herself was on the adoptive parent wait list.  It feels like a major conflict of interest. I think about it often, and have reviewed the codes of conduct on the social work professional association’s website.  As much as I would like to explore the circumstances around this placement with the agency’s director, I fear I will be labeled as “trouble” and it will impact our chances of being shown. It feels awful to put my own self interest ahead of ensuring that the birth parents and adoptive families served by the agency are supported by staff who have impeccable ethical standards.

We had put our file on hold in April when they called us two weeks later to let us know that despite me specifically asking, our file had been with a birth family at the time, and they now wanted to see our home study.  We had to make a quick decision about showing the file and also buying more trip cancellation insurance.  Ultimately this was not our match and we endured unnecessary heartbreak due to their mistake of neglecting to tell us about our file being out in the first place.

Our home study update had just happened prior to this incident.  We did not even get to see a draft of it before being asked to make the decision to share it with the potential birth family.  When I finally got our own copy (that had already been viewed by the potential birth family), it was filled with errors.  This was so frustrating after spending a huge chunk of money on an hour long interview.

What has upset me most recently, is a clerical error made.  My brother-in-law and his wife (who now have four biological children) looked into the possibility of adoption a few years ago and attended a seminar with the agency we are currently with.  Shortly after our home study update, they received OUR bill in the mail.  They contacted the agency who apologized and said there was “someone with a similar name in their database.”  The agency never let us know about this breach of our confidentiality.  Thankfully, our family knows about our adoption wait, but had we been keeping this private, this could have been even more upsetting.  I do not feel thrilled about my in-laws knowing exactly how much money we have spent to date on this process.  I have been contemplating about whether or not I say anything to our agency, but once again fear that if I cause “trouble” it will impact the quality of services and support we receive from them down the road.

Ultimately, I feel powerless.  Infertility makes me feel powerless and so does this adoption journey.  This is such a challenging feeling for someone who craves feeling organized and in control.

I would be so curious to see what other’s think about our experiences thus far with our agency.  With this anonymous blog, it feels safe to vent about our agency’s mistakes, but I know I need to be incredibly careful.



11 thoughts on “Oops.

  1. Oh my gosh! What the hell?! They sent the bill to the wrong people?! That is preposterous! Is there anyway you can switch agencies, or would that set you back years again? That is just so terrible. I’m sorry.


    • If we chose to switch agencies, we would lose all of the money we have invested so far and would be placed at the bottom of a new list. In our city, there are only three or four agencies, with two of them being faith based (and not a match for us). We really don’t feel we have any other options but to ride it out.


      • That’s the predicament we’re in– we feel too invested (financially, emotionally, time-wise) to “start over.”


  2. I really appreciate this post, because I am struggling with our adoption agency. We’ve been an active family with them for a little over a year and I am getting SUPER frustrated (not over the wait, although it’s hard, but about how we’re treated). I feel totally abused by the agency director and would 100% not recommend them to anyone beginning the process. If I could turn back the clock I would do it all differently, but now I feel too invested to leave. It is SUCH a hard position to be in.


    • I am so sad to hear you are feeling so discouraged by your agency. It is such a challenging position to be in. I hope you are matched soon and can move forward from your time with this organization.


      • We actually are matched, it’s just not a good situation and, to be honest, has almost been worse than just plan waiting. I know not to expect things to be “perfect” (I got over that years ago, when we started this journey), but every step feels worse than the last. I still have some small hope this will all work out, but am also preparing for the worst. And with that, the feeling that we wasted even more time.


  3. I definitely don’t plan to use our agency again in the future, if we ever have the chance to adopt again. I didn’t make any formal complaints during our adoption process, but I did on the anonymous post-service survey after our adoption was completed. I felt the same fear you’re describing – how would it affect the process if I expressed my concerns? Are you able to share the name of your agency on your blog?


  4. I think it would be best for me to keep the name of our agency to myself in the off chance someone that works there somehow comes across this blog. The fear is real!! I truly wouldn’t want to do anything that could jeopardize the quality of service they offer to us (any further)! It sounds like agency troubles are more widespread than I imagined.


  5. That sounds so frustrating….we’ve considered adoption being a future option for us depending on how other opportunities play out. I like being in control too so this would be frustrating to me. Is it possible to use a different agency, or do things not transfer over (home study)? I personally would speak up about the errors they made on your home study and the whole sending the bill to the wrong person! You should be able to speak to them about your concerns and be honest. They can’t discriminate against you (by not putting your file out there with prospective matches) due to you being concerned about the errors. You spend a LOT of money on that and they need to be more on top of their work. There is a way you can go about bringing it up by keeping in mind not to be confrontational/ argumentative, but by saying “It concerns me…”


    • There is a lot of variation among agencies, but the one we chose does not do “shared homestudies,” meaning that as long as we’re working with them, we can’t be working with any one else. They can do this because while my husband and I “own” our homestudy (it’s about us, we paid for it), the agency holds it.

      There is a lot of fear around “angering” the agency, because they do have a lot of power over you. While the social workers will continue to show our profile, there are many situations where the birthmom doesn’t want to choose, etc., and in those cases our agency director decides which waiting family to call. We are concerned that if we are too much of a squeaky wheel, we won’t be selected for those situations.

      It’s not right, but that’s how it is.


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