The Internal Conflict - Part 1 - Choosing an Adoption Agency

I think I’ve started this post in some form or another several times, but have been worried about putting it out to the blogosphere.  It was easier to spill my guts when I didn’t “know” anyone who was reading my blog.  These days, there are IRL peeps who read, and I fear that with my limited ability to convey what I’m thinking/feeling on paper I’ll offend people inadvertently.  However, I keep coming back to this topic, and so, I think it’s time to take the plunge.  This isn’t exactly in response to Love Is Not A Pie’s post about a cultural shift Rebecca would like to see in the decision to live child-free.  (I encourage you to go read the post if you haven’t yet, it’s thought-provoking and well written).  Rather, this is inspired by the post and thoughts I’ve been having as we enter into our second adoption journey.  
 
This is Part 1 of 3.
 
There’s an internal conflict growing within me regarding the ethics of adoption.  When we began the journey, I inherently knew that I wanted to be very careful about the type of agency we chose.  As of now, we’ve interviewed or been to informational meetings at four different agencies.  Here’s my thoughts on each (without naming them here, but I’m happy to put names to them for anyone interested in researching agencies).
 
1.  The Small Non-Profit Agency
As I’ve stated in previous posts, we chose this agency because of their openness regarding process, the potential birthparent counseling, and their philosophy on matching (late in the pregnancy), not to mention the relatively low price tag.  They are non-profit, and local in that they only operate in the state of CO as far as networking advertising, etc.  The agency has a flat fee, and every prospective adoptive parent contributes to a crisis fund within that fee, which is used in the cases where medical expenses or limited living expenses are needed.  Prospective adoptive parents are never asked to contribute more than the flat fee, which puts everyone on a level playing field.  And of course, the wait is long.  I got really annoyed when telling people that that we were adopting that they would come back with the “there are so many children who need homes”.  Yep, but that’s not the route we took, and we knew it all too well.  It was frustrating for sure, but I know that the situation we ended up with is truly a situation where adoption was the most viable option (more on that in another post).  Another thing that made us feel comfortable with the agency is that C's caseworker worked with C after placement.
 
2.  The Religious-Based Agency
We attended this agency’s informational meeting when we first started looking into adoption seriously.  I hated it and almost walked out 15 minutes into the meeting.  Forget the fact that they want prospective adoptive parents to sign a statement of faith and be active in a church, which automatically kicked us out of the running.  The slide show was slick and the brochures colorful and something didn't feel right.  Much later, I learned that this agency has been accused of coercion.

3.  The Small Non-Profit Open Adoption Agency
This agency is similar to the agency we use (secular, local), but it's smaller and promotes full-disclosure once you are matched with an expectant parent.  The wait once you are in their pool of about 15 families isn't too long, but getting started with the process can be delayed if they aren't having placements (we would have had to wait 6 months to start the process).  Unlike the agency we chose, there isn't a flat fee and prospective adoptive parents can end up providing financial assistance to the expectant parents.

4.  The National Agency
The fees of this agency threw us for a loop.  I realize they have more overhead and expenses given that they operate in several states, but it just seems out of whack with what both agencies operating in our state charge.  They seemed ok, and I know others have had positive experiences with them, but I didn't like the response when I said we are in an open adoption and prefer our second child to be in an open adoption as well.   The representative on the phone said some things that didn't sit well with me.  However, we probably would have signed on with this agency (with caution) except for the astronomical cost.  S wasn't all that comfortable with being in another state as the birthparents because it would make having an open adoption more difficult.


A Side Note:
I don't understand the practice of having prospective adoptive parents pay living and medical expenses.  I realize all states are different and ours is somewhat strict in that we have to use an agency, where others can work with an attorney.  However, I think all states should strictly limit what amount of money can be paid towards medical and living expenses.  I also think that agencies and attorneys should all have a crises fund that the prospective adoptive parents pay into so that there is a pool of money for them to draw from.  That way no one knows if the birth parents they are matched with are receiving assistance, and the birth parents don't have the knowledge that a specific couple or person has paid for their living/medical expenses.  At the very least, it seems to me that it would create some feeling of indebtedness on the part of the birthparents.  At the worst, it's coercion.